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All the Light We Cannot See

Cover: 'All the Light We Cannot See'

Staff Review: "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr


"All the Light We Cannot See" is a non-linear narrative centered on the stories of two children coming of age in WWII Europe. Marie-Laure, blind from the age of six, lives in Paris with her father, who is the principal locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History. At the age of 12, Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris as the Nazis advance. They find refuge at the home of her great uncle, a reclusive WWI veteran suffering from PTSD, in his home in Saint-Malo. Werner, an orphan living in a mining town in Germany, dreams of becoming an engineer and becomes a self-taught “expert” of radios. Though it requires leaving his younger sister behind, he is thrilled to be granted admission to the National Political Institute of Education at Schulpforta, an elite academy for Hitler Youth. The novel is an evocative exploration of love, loyalty, sacrifice, family, friendship, and fate, and the narrative is suffused with the protagonists’ shared love of learning. The descriptive prose creates a strong sense of place, whether it is through Werner’s eyes or as “observed” by Marie Laure, whose descriptions remind us that we are surrounded by textures, sounds, and smells. "All the Light We Cannot See" may have special appeal to fans of historical fiction and is situated in a specific historical moment; however, I think this beautifully written, moving novel will appeal to a wider audience.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

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