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All the Light We Cannot See
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May 2018: Family Drama > All The Light We Cannot See - 4 Stars

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All the Light We Cannot See is a moving story of devastation and heartbreak in war. This story in particular demonstrates how war can lead people along paths they would never have taken in other circumstances. The book is primarily set during World War II Germany and France, as well as some disturbing moments of the Soviet Union involvement. Anthony Doerr, the author writes of lives of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan. Werner is a gifted boy that is drawn to math and electronics, attracting the attention of Nazi military technicians. They recognize his natural talents and use this to exploit him, dragging him into a special school of Hitler Youth, which leads him into the war where he is responsible for determining the coordinates of enemy resistance fighters using hidden radios. Marie-Laure, is the cherished daughter of the French National Museum locksmith. He flees Paris with his young daughter when the Germans invade, going to stay with his housebound uncle, Etienne, in St. Malo.

The story begins when the child Werner and the older Etienne lives connect over the radio waves. Etienne’s brother had recorded radio shows and Etienne played them over the wireless radio. Werner and his sister, Jutta listened to them faithfully, even though this was not allowed in Germany. It was then that Werner’s interest in science and electronics began. Throughout this story we learn all about these two characters by traveling back in time to when there was no war through the early days of Nazism to the capture of France, leading to its liberation. Doerr continually shifts from one time to the next in this book.


The foundation to this story ends when the soldier Werner encounters Marie-Laure, while his group is on the hunt for resistance communication to take out. Through his equipment he hears Marie Laure reading a book over the same wireless he listened to as a child, while requesting help between sentences and goes to her aid instead of reporting her. The author portrays the paths followed by the two children and how their individual decisions determine the wartime choices they make.

The adoration, patience, and kindness shown by Marie-Laure’s father molded her into the brave, determined girl she was. His character was both remarkable and proof what love and guidance can do for a child. Werner and his sister Jutta were orphans that were taken care of the best way possible. They loved one another and held one another up during difficult times. While Werner was thrown into the school and assignment without choice, given he was a German boy with no voice he grows and changes throughout the story. His survival characteristics are certainly different from Marie-Laure but also a demonstration of what you will do to survive, while attempting to determine wrong from right.


The authors use of parallel stories while moving back and forth in time took a little getting used to but once I was able to grasp his style it wasn’t difficult to follow the story.
All the Light We Cannot See is a story about ordinary people and what they are sometimes forced to do protect themselves and those they love when faced with circumstances beyond their control.


Susie | 4488 comments I absolutely adored this book. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.


Beth This is probably my most recommended book.....I love it!!


Jason Oliver | 2098 comments Great book!


message 5: by Joi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments I also gave this four stars, but looking back it has stayed with me. I'm starting to think I should go back, and give it 5 instead.

Glad you loved this, a PBT favorite.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 8428 comments Wonderful review-it is a great read!


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9359 comments Add me to the raves. This one was truly special.


Karin | 7470 comments This was 5 stars for me with 4 hearts--I listened to the audiobook. I'm glad you liked it.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6400 comments Ditto ....


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