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All the Light We Cannot See

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4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  401,460 Ratings  ·  44,415 Reviews
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master o
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ebook, 597 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner (first published 2014)
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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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Emily May
“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 metaphoric
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Becky
Jul 06, 2014 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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LeeAnne

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr


This book has the most hauntingly beautiful prose I've ever read. It's brimming with rich details that fill all five senses simultaneously. It's full of beautiful metaphors that paint gorgeous images. I didn't want this book 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 18
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Melanie
Dec 22, 2014 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chrissie
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
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Jenna
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
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Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
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
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Maciek
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
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Dem
May 25, 2016 Dem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book club read
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
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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 the German
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Angela M
May 25, 2014 Angela M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Raeleen Lemay
Jan 04, 2015 Raeleen Lemay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
oK.

When I started this book, I noticed some similarities to The Book Thief, and although they quickly fell to the wayside, I couldn't help but compare this book to The Book Thief the entire time I was reading it. And since The Book Thief is my favorite book of all time, it kind of took away some of the enjoyment for me while reading this.

The plot and the characters ended up being quite different (which was great), but I just found that the pacing was a bit off for me. It was a bit too slow for m
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Diane S ☔
Apr 04, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve
Apr 15, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Diane
Is this the best World War II novel I've ever read? Possibly. It's definitely at the top of the list.*

Once again, I'm a little late to this book party, but I'm glad I made an appearance. So many readers had loved this book (and now that I've read it, I can see why it's such a favorite), but I kept putting it off because I've grown weary of WWII stories. Seriously, there is so much published about that period that it's overwhelming to sift through all the titles.**

But there are several things ab
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Nataliya
"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 or ordinary people. This is a story of their lives until the brief moment in which they collide, to
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Dianne
A 4.5....review coming. Have to ponder this a bit. It was a 5 until the last 50 pages....not sure I am being fair here. Very, very good book.

UPDATED: I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley and Scribner. Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner. This review, however, is based on the hardcover version.

I have read this book twice now. The first time, the author had me in the palm of his hand. I was totally absorbed in the book and the flow and the pace of how the stories of Marie-Lau
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Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)


*Edit* Rambling, part one.

5 stars for now because I will never forget this story. What they mean, will they stick, is another story. I may be able to review this novel in 20 minutes or days or years. For now I feel betrayed and speechless and sick and humbled and haunted and confused and hopeful and depressed and mad and bewitched and exhausted.

Perhaps I'm supposed to. Perhaps I'm not.

"I need to gather my thoughts" never sounded so fitting, really. Trust me, you don't want to be in my head rig
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Cecily
description

In the darkest places, at the darkest times, there is light, if we can but believe.

This is a story of contrasts, parallels, and coming together.

It is about light, and so, inevitably, also about the dark.

The descriptions are very visual, but what cannot be seen is key. One of the two main characters is blind, so it’s about touch and smell and sound as well. And it’s radio that drives many lives and events. “Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth.” It is also “a war waged through the air
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Connie
2.5, maybe 3

So I maybe cried at the end of this....because I was done, or because I was so sad that I didn't like it more, not sure which. I rarely count pages...sometimes I am just sad when I only have a few left. This one I was counting to be done! Not a good sign.

Let me say, the writing was beautiful...I kept reading descriptive passages aloud. But they were about the settings, not the characters. Doerr made the settings come alive, the poverty I saw, the bombings I heard, the dust and rot
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Marialyce
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
Violet wells
“What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models... None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.”

I’m a sucker for beautiful writing and this is a very beautifully written novel. Doerr always has full imaginative command of his detail and, even if occasionally he feeds too much pr
...more
Regan
Nov 16, 2014 Regan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was amazing.
Matt
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 routine is a function of several things, chiefly a love of books, a deliberate reading speed, and also financial impulsivity. At one point my wife found this ...more
Tabetha
Jan 09, 2016 Tabetha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust, favorites
"A corner of the night sky, beyond a wall of trees, blooms red. In the lurid, flickering light, he sees that the airplane was not alone, that the sky teems with them, a dozen swooping back and forth, racing in all directions, and in a moment of disorientation, he feels that he's not looking up but down, as though a spotlight has been shined into a wedge of bloodshot water, and the sky has become the sea, and the airplanes are hungry fish, harrying their prey in the dark."

Light, a penetrable li
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Laz
Dec 26, 2014 Laz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, every one
We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.


This is majestic. This is gr
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Michael
A wonderfully moving and lyrical account of two teenagers coming of age on opposite sides of the conflict during World War 2. One is a blind girl, Marie-Laure, living in Paris at the beginning in 1940 and then, before the German occupation, moving with her father to the walled Brittany town of Saint-Malo. The other main character is Werner, an orphan in a German industrial and mining town whose talent in fixing radios gets him sent to an elite training academy. The narrative alternates chapters ...more
Jenny
May 26, 2014 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I died a thousand times while reading this book. It is mysterious, heart-breaking and just brilliantly beautiful. It deserves all the stars.
Arah-Lynda
Apr 20, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Jenna
‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud.
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
“Come in”, she said. “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”




There is a girl:

Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, lives in Paris
with her father who works at the Museum of Natural History.
Her world is surprisingly full of colour.
She seeks her shelter in reading.

When Marie-Laure is twelve
the Nazis occupy Paris
and she and her father m
...more
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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 . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discov ...more
More about Anthony Doerr...

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“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” 1367 likes
“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?” 634 likes
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