All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: 9/10

One of the books I read over the summer was “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. This novel is set in the 1940’s, in the midst of World War II, and tells the story of two teenagers by the names of Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig. Marie-Laure has been blind since six, and is from France, where she lived with her father, the principal locksmith of the Museum of Natural History. Werner is an orphan who grows up in Germany with his younger sister. His uncanny aptitude for fixing radios gets him into a very prestigious academy for Hitler Youth. These two characters created by Doerr are on opposite sides of the raging war, and yet their paths would manage to cross.   

Although Marie-Laure was blind, she could get her way through the city. She could laugh with her father and feel the shells of snails and mollusks at the museum her dad worked at. Things were finally looking up for her. When Marie-Laure’s city was being attacked, she and her father fled to seek refuge with Marie-Laure’s great uncle in a city called Saint Malo. Here, she and her father try to rebuild everything that they had lost from evacuating their old home, but only so much can be recovered.

Werner is an orphan boy with a younger sister. He has a fascination in radios, which gets him into an academy for Hitler Youth where he is challenged physically and mentally. He makes friends and he finally feels as if he belongs, but one day he goes out to the field. His job is to locate enemy broadcasts by using radios and to eliminate them. His new job shows him new things, but also brings him to Marie-Laure.  

One aspect of this book that really drew me in was the use of dates and the switching of narrators. The book was divided into segments, where you could get a brief overview of what would happen in the future. With the switching of narrators, Doerr managed to keep me as a reader almost completely hooked. One of his well-placed cliffhangers could get me thinking about the book days after I had put it down and many hours in the night. The new way of writing that Doerr had brought to the table had amazed me and had me constantly imagining what I would do if I were in the situation that Marie-Laure and Werner were in. Some unique parts of this book include the history of the time period. After reading the book, not only did I connect to the characters, but I also felt as though I understood the time period better as well. The struggles that Marie-Laure faced running away from the Nazi’s, but also the terrors that Werner had to go through in training both painted me a very clear picture of the life they were living in. I would recommend this book to anyone because of just how fun of a book it was to read, but especially if you are a person who finds yourself drawn to the characters or find yourself identifying with them. Doerr did a fantastic job in the character development department, making the characters in “All The Light We Cannot See” one of my favorites that I had ever read about.


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