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All the Light We Cannot See

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,159,195 ratings  ·  80,974 reviews
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in G
Hardcover, First Scribner Hardcover Edition, 531 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner
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Kim My mother was in Hitler's Youth. It was not optional. Not doing so would bring harm/death to your family/self. Knowing what I do abouit Berlin and the…moreMy mother was in Hitler's Youth. It was not optional. Not doing so would bring harm/death to your family/self. Knowing what I do abouit Berlin and the accounts my mother has shared with me, I always say the first country Hitler invaded was Germay. (less)

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

This book has haunting, beautiful prose. It's brimming with metaphors, painting gorgeous images. I didn't want it to end, but I couldn't put it down.

"In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo, the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France was almost destroyed by fire....Of the 865 buildings within the walls, only 182 remained standing and all were damaged to some degree." -Philip Beck


This is a carefully constructed book which is bound to captivate a large audience and become very popular, and be blessed with many warm reviews - it was chosen by Goodreads members as the best historical fiction of 2014, and shortlisted for the National Book Award. There are multiple reasons for its success - but they are also the same reasons as to why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.

Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See follows the parallel lives of two protagonists - Marie
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Why write a review if I am such an atypical reader?

I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn’t it important that all views are voiced?

All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the
Miranda Reads

No denying that this one is a big boi.

But was it worth all that paper?

Click the link for my video review of the big bois in my life.
The Written Review:Why are all prize winning books so depressing?

Do the Pulitzer Prize judges immediately disqualify fun books? Seriously, I don't think I've seen a happy one yet.
Don’t you want to be alive before you die?
We follow two storylines - one set in Germany focused on Werner Pfennig, an orphan, who's always dreamed of an education.

He finally gets
Emily May
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

I'm going to be honest - love for this book didn't hit me straight away. In fact, my first attempt to read it last year ended with me putting it aside and going to find something easier, lighter and less descriptive to read. I know - meh, what a quitter.

But this book is built on beautiful imagery. Both in the literal sense - the physical world of 1940s Paris/Germany - and the metaphor
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I always thought, or imagined, that there were these invisible lines trembling in our wake, outlining our trajectories through life, throbbing with electric energy. Lines that sometimes cross one other, or follow in parallel ellipses without ever touching, or meet up for one brief moment and then part. A universe of lines crisscrossing in the void.

Anthony Doerr's astonishing new novel "All The Light We Cannot See" follows the complex arcs of two such invisible lines through the lives of Werner P
Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Adult fiction

This book is getting a lot of well-deserved attention for its unique story and its beautiful writing. It starts late in World War II, as the Allies begin shelling the French city of Saint-Malo to drive out the remaining Nazi troops. Our two main characters are Marie Laure, a blind French girl who fled here with her uncle from Paris, and Werner, a radio expert in the German army who is stuck in the city when the attack begins. We jump back and forth in time, and between the two char
May 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm sure this is going to mark me as a literary dud, but for all the brilliant reviews of this book? I couldn't really get into it.

The book revolves around Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father. Her father is the locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History, and Marie is raised wholly in the museum and at home. Marie has a semi-idyllic childhood until the Nazi's invade Paris and she and her father have to flee to another city, where a reclusive uncle lives. Unknown to Marie, he
Michael Finocchiaro
Honestly, wtf? I mean, we all know the blind person trope (Daredevil, etc) and the lovable Nazi trope (Hiroshima Mon Amour) and the mystical object searched for by evil Nazis trope (Indiana Jones), so why throw all of these together? The book was readable but no more so than a pulp fiction thriller. Honestly, I don't see this as being Pulitzer quality. The characters were ok, the narration interesting, but a masterpiece? The best US fiction in 2015? Perhaps not. And please don't accuse me of bei ...more
Jim Fonseca
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This is a great book. Its very high ratings (4.3; half of the ratings are "5's") renews my faith that GR ratings count for something. With almost 50,000 reviews on GR I don’t feel there is a lot for me to add but here’s a brief summary of the plot and I’ll give a few examples of the great literary writing.

It’s just before the Nazi invasion and occupation of Paris. A young blind girl relies on her father for everything and she is his world as well. He spends all his time making her a wooden model
Will Byrnes
4/20/15 - PULITZER WINNER for 2014
The brain is locked in total darkness of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?
Marie Laure LeBlanc is a teen who had gone blind at age 6. She and her father, Daniel, fled Paris ahead of th
It has been awhile since I have found a book that I wanted to read slowly so that I could soak in every detail in hopes that the last page seems to never come.

When reading the synopsis of this novel, I never imagined that I would feel so connected to a book where one of the main characters is blind and the other a brilliant young German orphan who was chosen to attend a brutal military academy under Hitler's power using his innate engineering skills.

This novel was so much more than the above st
Caz (littlebookowl)
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was so beautiful and haunting. I fell in love with so many of the characters, and loved how their lives were weaved together. Knowing the time period this was set in, I knew the ending would hurt. And it did, though I didn't shed as many tears as I expected.
The writing was incredible, the descriptions so vivid. It did a superb job of showing the reader how the characters felt through their actions, rather than telling. Whilst the short chapters (on average 1.5 pages) helped to make thi
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: book club read
Shelves: ww2
I enjoyed this novel by Anthony Doerr and yet when I was nearing the end I couldn't help feel a a sense of relief to have finished the book.

I enjoy historical fiction and really looked forward to this novel by Anthony Doerr as it was set in a time frame that that really interests me. Because I read quite a lot of novels set around World War Two I love the fact that the author took a a slightly different path with his storytelling and that is what drew me to this novel.

I loved the characters of M
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Did I just... finish a book?

The audiobook was definitely the way to go with this one!

Very popular historical fiction. Out of my comfort zone. I get the hype, the writing was beautiful but not a favorite!
I think that my opinion of this book does not match the general opinion.

I was pretty bored throughout and my mind kept wandering. I kept waiting for a big payoff, plot twist, that would bring my attention crashing back. I thought there might be some grand resolution beyond the symbolism and poetry of the writing, and there really didn't seem to be. Maybe I missed it while my mind was wandering.

Two other things - I have been encountering these a lot lately:

- WWII is now definitely entrenched as a
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bumped this up to 5 stars because the last 100 pages made me cry like a little bitch. Both the main characters are likable, inquisitive, and sympathetic; the side characters are also endearing and wonderful companions. The writing style and imagery is poetic without veering towards purple prose; I was impressed by Doerr's ability to weave words together in such a lovely and rich way, especially from the perspective of a blind character. The themes throughout the story — how war can rob the norma ...more
Angela M
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What I loved most about this book was all the light that I did see. There is so much here that captivated me - from the beautiful writing to the strong, caring characters to the loving relationships and the way people touched each other's lives during the trying times of WW II.

Parallel stories are told in alternating chapters of Marie Laure, a teenage French girl who has been blind since the age of six and Werner, an intelligent, perceptive and sensitive German orphan who learns to fix radios an
So, I know I should be oohing and ahhing over this book, but it just wasn't for me. This is definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me" moments. I can see why many people have given such glowing reviews, but I found it to be unbearably dull and slow-moving. I never felt a strong connection with either of the main characters or the story itself. I'm just glad that it ended. ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a novel written by American author Anthony Doerr, published by Scribner on May 6, 2014. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

In 1934, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a six year old blind girl living in Paris with her father, the master locksmith at the Museum of Natural History. Her father constructs a scale model of their neighborhood to help her visualize her surro
How do I review a novel that most of my friends loved but left me mainly indifferent. Again, I have a case when I feel guilty for not liking a book more and trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Since that failed I will try my luck explaining what this novel did or didn’t do for me.

Firstly, the writing. It is beautiful, intricate, full of elegant, well thought sentences. However, they let me untouched. I don’t know why but I did not feel anything when reading those polished words. Maybe,
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
* I received a free copy from Netgalley, so thank you to them*

Saint Malo is one of my favourite places in France, it's a joy strolling its historic cobbled streets on a warm sunny day, but the St Malo depicted in this story is as far removed from the one in MY memory as it's possible to get. Set against the backdrop of World War II, France is under German occupation, St Malo under siege, and then finally the city comes under aerial attack. There are parallel lives here in the guise of Marie-Laur
Diane S ☔
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For me, this was a very special read. I feel like I have been on a long gut-wrenching journey, and in a way I have, traveling with two young children, one in Berlin and one in Paris and follow them as they grow-up. There are poignant moments, downright sad moments, moments that made me smile and moments that made me so very angry. Werner in Berlin is a curious child, a child with the talent for putting things together, like radios, he and his sister Jutta live in an orphanage. Marie-Laure, a bli ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
‘open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

reading this story reminded me of eating a decadent chocolate cake - so rich and filling that you are only able to eat a couple of bites at a time. meaning this book took me sooo long to finish because there was just so much to savour, so much to appreciate.

had this been any other book, i might have complained that it was too slow paced, too dense, too tedious. but i didnt think any of that with this story, regardless
Charlotte May
Haunting, harrowing, heartbreaking.
This book was an incredible depiction of the Second World War, told from the point of view of two characters in very different circumstances.
Switching between narratives following Marie-Laure, a young blind girl living in France with her father, a museum caretaker. Forced to flee Paris, Marie Laure's father carries the real one of 4 copies made of the legendary 'sea of flames' a jewel said to bring bad luck and destruction on whoever holds it.
The second narr
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
This is a case of where I am going to hate myself for again feeling a book that has received a multitude of five star ratings feel short for me. It was not that I disliked it, but I found it to be jumpy and often disjointed. I am not a fan of the current trend of devoting one chapter to one character and the next to another and flipping back and forth. To my way of reading and thinking, it doesn't allow the reader (me) to gather depth of a character. It makes me overly anxious to sally forth try ...more
David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
"Book - you have the right to a speedy trial" - review

- The story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking at times. Anyone looking for a good cry (or an ugly cry, or a proud cry, or, well, any kind of cry, really), this is the book for you!

- Both lead characters are extremely likable and sympathetic.

- The book does a brilliant job portraying the bleakness and tragedy of war and the many different ways it can affect people's lives.

- Werner's story is particularly effective.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book topping the charts for weeks and weeks hardly needs my help, but I’m going to do this one the favor of a recommendation anyway. For efficiency’s sake, I’ll be addressing categories of friends en masse.

To those who like big-boughed characters (i.e., more than just stick figures): You get two compelling souls with this one: Marie-Laure, the valiant and inquisitive French girl who went blind at age six, and Werner, the tow-headed German orphan who had a knack for gadgets and science. Set in
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."
It's a story of childhood interrupted by war. Two children - a blind French girl Marie-Laure LeBlanc and a German orphan Werner Pfennig - caught against their will in the unrelenting forces of cruel madness and destruction of World War II, dragged along in the senseless current of history that does not care about the fates of ordinary people. This is a story of their lives until the brief moment in which they collide,
"So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

I follow a very specific plan whenever a new work of popular fiction bursts upon the stage. First, I buy it, right away. Like the instant I finish reading the review in the New York Times. Second, I put the book on my shelf, as soon as I receive it. Finally, I read it, two or three or four years later, when I finally get around to it. This routi
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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . His new novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land , will be published in September, 2021. Doerr’s fiction has won five O. Henry Prizes and won a number of prizes including the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal. Become a fan on Facebook and stay u ...more

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