Book Review

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

Rating: 3.5 / 5

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr has been on my shelf for a long time after seeing it recommended multiple times. When a friend on instagram announced a buddy read of this one for March, I immediately added it to my huge TBR. I was able to get this one on audio book which helped me to squeeze it into my reading for the month.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE follows two main characters, a young blind French girl and a German boy, in the years leading up to and including the German occupation of France during World War II. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris, joining him often as he works at the Museum of Natural History. She loses her sight early, but her father is rather ingenious in coming up with ways to teach his daughter to navigate the world around her.

Werner is a young orphan boy in Germany who is obsessed with the mechanics of radios. The skill he develops working with them opens doors for him to work with those tracking down the broadcasts of people working against the Germans. As the story progresses, it is clear that the lives of Werner and Marie-Laure will intersect in some way, but the reader must follow along to see how.

This book was very beautifully written and I connected both with Marie-Laure and Werner well throughout the story. I loved seeing Marie-Laure and her father’s interactions and the way her father didn’t give up on her having independence after she loses her sight. As for many of us (especially in recent days), reading (through braille) is an escape. Werner is a young boy who craves knowledge, excited to find educational broadcasts to listen to. Though we know he will grow up on the opposite side of the war as Marie-Laure, he is an example of someone who gets caught up on the side of wrong without being bad himself.

I struggled with focusing on this one at times. I thought the audio was very well done, but Werner’s story in particular in his older years didn’t hold my attention as well as Marie-Laure’s story did. This book was battling everything going on in the world outside of the pages, so some of this was probably bad timing more than the book itself.

Overall this was a beautifully told story and I would second the many recommendations I saw that had me buying a copy!

Reading Challenges:

#AroundTheYearin52Books – a book that is between 400-600 pages

8 thoughts on “ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr”

  1. Great review! Honestly, I wasn’t able to finish this when I first picked it up, but I’m willing to give it another chance. I had the same sentiments as you—I had trouble focusing during some parts. Hopefully I’ll come around to reading it.

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    1. I probably would have set it aside for a while if not for the buddy read I was doing. It was an enjoyable read, but one that was easy to have my mind wander!

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      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is beautifully written but I didn’t love it as much as others have. I read it fairly early before I read many reviews and I kept expecting the two timelines to intersect sooner and more profoundly than they did. That disappointed me and if I had known that ahead of time I might have had a better experience.

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    1. We talked about that with the buddy read – the synopsis and what I had read about it ahead gave me different expectations from what actually happened! I do think it could have been described better in the synopsis maybe. ________________________________

      Liked by 1 person

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