All the Light We Cannot See // Anthony Doerr

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

From the back cover:

Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he 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 Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined.  Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance.  Marie-Laure and Werner, from warring countries, both having lost many of the people they loved, come together in Saint-Malo, as Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

-Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

It’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts on this one.  I have to admit, All the Light We Cannot See really intimidated me for the longest time (as any massive, Pulitzer-winning, WWII novel would).  It was a slow read for me with not much happening in terms of plot, but the characters and the writing are why I kept returning.  Doerr pens elegant, well-crafted sentences and his characters are not only vividly-described but heart-breakingly beautiful as well.  I quickly grew to adore Marie-Laure and found myself flipping through the pages to find her next chapter.

“What do we call visible light?  We call it color.  But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is visible.”

-Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See focuses on themes of interconnectedness, with the various characters crossing paths at different points in their lives.  There are so many untold stories from the war, and Doerr hints at this throughout the novel.  You would never think that two characters as different as Marie-Laure and Werner would come together, but they did.  I felt like the majority of the book was leading up to their meeting, and then when it finally happened… I was disappointed.  It wasn’t a big meeting, more like a small introduction.  I know this isn’t a plot-driven book, but there was virtually no plot at all, and I could definitely sense that it was missing.  Luckily, the beautiful prose made up for the lack of story.

Overall, I can say that I enjoyed this book… but not as much as I thought I would.

You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon.

2 comments

  1. This is one of my favourite books, mostly because of the writing. But I must admit, I was a little disappointed with their meeting as well, although that’s probably because I’m so used to plots from contemporary, ya novels where everything just seems so… intense.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s