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All the Light We Cannot See

A Novel

Doerr, Anthony

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
All the Light We Cannot See
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"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 of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2014
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476746586
1476746583
9781476746593
1476746591
Branch Call Number: FICTION DOERR 2014
Characteristics: 531 pages ;,24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

a blind French girl and a German boy encounter one another in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Two wonderful characters, one who becomes a German soldier, and one a blind girl who winds up working for the French resistance, grow up under the shadow of WWII until their paths converge. This is wonderful, moving and beautifully written.

July. This wonderful novel follows two characters, one of them a young German man whose path leads him to become a soldier, and the other a blind French girl, who winds up doing work for the resistance. Very moving and beautiful written, I think that despite its title, it showed us the light we c... Read More »


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Feb 24, 2015
  • sharon711 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this very real story of people coping in desperate situations, with true-to-life endings that can't be considered at all happy for everyone. Just as in our own lives, there is no fairy-tale magic to get us through hardships. Courage, love, and hope are what sustains us. The unusual dual approach of seeing the world through a blind girl's ears and the nonvisual commentary of radio is "eye-opening."

Feb 18, 2015
  • harrissusanc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is a masterpiece, if only for what it does to the historical novel. The short fabulist chapters in one dazzling voice in sections that jump ahead and back take you out of time and then you're back in a miraculous history where humans occupied the universe for just that moment. Beautiful, wondrous and new.

Feb 13, 2015
  • SeattleXL rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An exquisitely written novel which evokes beautiful images and emotions. Well executed, well plotted, well paced with believable characters that come together at a moment during a devastating war.

Feb 12, 2015
  • Iowakid rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I listened to this, and could not stop. Masterful writing. I didn't want it to end. The best book I've read all year.

Feb 05, 2015
  • BrigidWilson rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Read from January 14 to February 01, 2015, read count: 1

This is a stunningly beautiful and moving novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths converge, for one pivotal moment, in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The story alternates between Marie Laure in Paris and then Saint-Malo, with Werner Pfennig, a German orphan with a natural talent for electronics and radios.

When she goes blind at six, her father, who is the master of locks at the Natural History Museum, builds her a precise model of their neighborhood so she can memorize it with her fingers. Then he helps her learn to navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, they flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle,also fan of radio, lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

Werner, grows up in another world with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. His inextinguishable talent for building and fixing radios wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Per the Library School Journal review: "A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned."

Jan 31, 2015
  • DanaKBurgess rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

All the Light We Cannot See is a book comprised of parts, and chapters within the parts. The parts are grouped according to year and the chapters alternate points of view between a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German boy, Werner. The chapters are short and the author does an amazing job of keeping the reader in both of these characters lives simultaneously. I was also very impressed with the style of Anthony Doer's writing. The story allows the reader into the lives of these children as world war 2 begins to affect them. Mr Doer does a great job of telling their stories without being judgmental or overly sentimental. This allows the reader to really connect with the characters as well as their circumstances and sympathize with both. At first I did have a problem with how the parts of the book bounce between past and present in the characters lives. I would get so involved in what was going on, that when the part and therefore year changed, I had to flip back in the book and figure out where the last part left off. This was not enough to make me put the book down and pretty soon I was changing time periods as quickly as the book was. My eyes were opened to a lot of realities I hadn't before considered with regard to how the war continued to affect people long after it had ended. This is a fabulous book and will definitely lead me to read more of the author's work

Jan 30, 2015
  • grannyat55 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent

Jan 28, 2015
  • becker rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book offers an endearing and unique approach to yet another WWII novel. It is a touching story with many redeeming characters. The type of story you can get swept up into. If you have been considering this one, don't put it off any longer.

Jan 20, 2015
  • fjvalentin rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An absolutely outstanding novel. I can't add to what has previously been said by others who have commented, other than to say it is a dramatic blend of the savagery of war with the preciousness of life.

Jan 19, 2015
  • Chapel_Hill_TishaW rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This was an enjoyable, bittersweet story. "All you could have been," a quote addressed to one of the main characters, captures the story's main idea: how much was lost during WWII, as depicted through the experiences of Werner, a German scientist-soldier, and Marie-Laurie, a blind teenager who becomes involved in the French resistance. The two of them share a heartachingly brief connection (indeed, so much in this story touches the heart, including the prose) that results in salvation, though of differing kinds, for them both. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys WWII-era writings, historical fiction and complicated personal narratives.

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Jun 23, 2014
  • bixby rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

1934-1944 France
A blind girl trying to survive the German occupation and Allied shelling of Saint Malo on the coast of France, a young, reluctant German soldier tasked with finding radio transmissions, and a German officer searching for a diamond which he believes will cure his illness.....fantastic manipulation of characters and events to bring them and the war to an end.

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Dec 29, 2014
  • leberly rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?”

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