All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Book Summary

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller 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 near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. 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, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

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All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) Book Reviews

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- Loved it5 star

Loved the way this boom is written. The book jumps around but it’s easy to follow. Couldn’t put it down.

- The Light We Cannot See1 star

I bought this book based on some very prominent reviews. Big Mistake. Just four hours into the reading of it, I’m done. Way too slow moving, depressing and boring.

- What was the point?2 star

Life and how disappointing?

- Great book!4 star

Loved it.

- Difficult to plow through1 star

There are so many and so many descriptions throughout this book that the story and characters get lost. To make it more confusing the author jumps back and forth though different time frames, which really do not add to the story or its telling. And then: the two main characters are together for less than a day and one of them gets killed! I waded through all of this for a terrible ending! And then the stone is mysteriously somewhere! Good grief. So bad.

- A must read5 star

This book is so captivating. It’s mesmerizing. You will not want to finish it, because all the emotions it makes you feel, you’ll become addicted to it. Everyone should read it.

- All the light we cannot see5 star

This book had me captivated until the very end. I was in awe of the way the story was written. It made me cry and only really amazing books can make a person cry.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

Loved it.

- If you like WWII fiction, you’ll like this5 star

Beautiful story with characters you can’t help but fall in love. So many great elements to this book: the telling of the story from both sides of the war, through the POV of children. I loved the way the story was structured so that you knew what it was leading towards. I think that added to it rather than spoil it. Completely worth the read.

- Let down1 star

I read this after I read “the nightingale” and I think because the other book was so good, I felt this was horrible. I had to force myself through every page

- Completely recommend5 star

I love this book so much. Especially science there so much tea in this book. But, I do wish there was more of a plot twist. Overall it’s a great book.

- Trite story in great setting2 star

Trite story in great setting—blind motherless girl meets albino tech-savvy boy—what are their chances?

- A literal journey5 star

Although many other reviews state that the book starts off slow or that the characters are hard to connect with I did not feel that way. Right from the jump it pulled me in and made me want to read more. The author’s language and imagery never fail to paint precise scenes in your mind. The storytelling and connections among characters also intertwine beautiful all throughout the book. Truly a good read from start to finish.

- Loved it!5 star

Great book!

- Was a tough read3 star

I’m not saying this wasn’t a good book. It was just a hard read. Disjointed. I get what the author was doing, but it was just too disjointed for my liking. I’m by no means a simpleton, however, when I have to look up the meaning of the author’s words every other paragraph, that gets old. Almost like his ego is based on how many obscure words he can fit in. The story itself could have been amazing, if I wasn’t slogging through trying to read a disjointed, wordy book.

- Magnificent5 star

The story is woven together beautifully with well thought out characters and intricate details. I loved it!

- Beautiful book5 star

A remarkable novel. Sad, sweet and incredibly touching

- Fantastic5 star

One of my top 5 all-time favorite novels.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

Really enjoyed this book. I read it sporadically when time allowed and could not wait to get back to it. The story itself is inspiring but the descriptions and things this blind girl could “see” were what made the book.

- Beautiful book!5 star

So beautiful, even the ugliest parts of war, tragic and awful are somehow made poetically beautiful. I found this to be the perfect beach book, leisurely winding down a multi-stranded path, with tension mounting to pull you through!

- Breathtaking5 star

I’ve never before had simple words move me so deeply. The author had my heart on a pendulum, from elation to devastation. He captured what I imagine to be the honest essence of what the horrors of that war did to everyone in its wake. The characters feel as if they are actual acquaintances of mine, such minute detail was used in describing the hows & whys of what they did. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

- Meh2 star

Much has been made of this novel, which in my opinion could have been reduced by 200 pages while still keeping its voice. Great prose but it plods and plods. Overrated.

- All the Light We Cannot See3 star

Enjoyable, but not a satisfying ending.

- Amazing5 star

What an incredible book!! Loved every second reading it. Thank you for writing this incredible novel!

- Beautiful book5 star

Loved it.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

This book is the best book I’ve ever read. It should be made into a movie.

- Almost perfect5 star

Simple review. Great book. Vivid, beautiful prose. Characters that will never leave you. You feel their heartache, their love, their desires, their sadness as if it’s your own. Buy it. Read it.

- Favorite Book Ever5 star

This book was amazing. It had so many different plots and sub-stories going at once in a way that was easy to follow and connected beautifully at the end. A must-read.

- Loved it5 star

Different.... Good!

- Slow1 star

Honestly, this book was slow and kind of boring. I typically love books set in WWII.... this one was not for me.

- A very beautiful book5 star

This book is very beautiful and painful it is heart warming and sad but at the end it is all so beautiful

- Tragically beautiful4 star

A tragically beautiful story of life and death. A story filled with moments of despair with hope on the very next page. It left me feeling angry, sorrowful and in the end hopeful. You won't regret the time spent reading it.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

This book brought back inspiration as a reader. After many years lost. It touched my soul with the author's beautiful language and lovable, flawed, genuine characters. My heart is bursting. Must read!

- Great5 star

The best book

- Haunting5 star

A haunting story of love and loss during WWII and its aftermath.

- Amazing5 star

Everything about this book, from start to finish, was absolutely incredible!

- Magnificent5 star

This was such an enjoyable read! Magnificent imagery; wonderful characters that touch the human spirit. Definitely recommend to anyone who is fan of World War 2 era novels. Very well written.



- Long...3 star

Beautifully written saga of several different lives intersecting during WWII. It was a great piece of storytelling but definitely could have used a dose of suspense and/or action to move it along. Found myself trying to rush through the book to finish it instead of rushing through it to find out what happens.

- So beautiful5 star

Brilliant story written beautifully.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

This is one of the most amazing WW II books I've ever read. Doerr brings not only history into this intriguing story, but he weaves science, music, medicine and so, so much more into this excellent view of Nazi occupied northern France. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more I realized that this was not just a terrific read, it was an absolutely exceptional book which I've since read over and over. To the person considering this as his/her next book to read, I would say "just don't miss this! You have no idea what this young author has in store for you".

- Magnificent!5 star

Loved this book; the twists and turns, the characters and the rich descriptive writing. Absolutely beautiful! Stayed up way too late, couldn't put it down.

- Not What I Expected5 star

I went into this book thinking it would be about the mechanics of WW2, not a story. Yet I still continued to read it and by the end I was crying and smiling. I'm not going to spoil anything. But I will say, if you haven't picked it up then do it! It deserves five stars and I think you will understand why once you read.

- Great Book5 star

I couldn't put it down. I loved this book.

- Captivating5 star

Read this book in 3 days and didn't want it to end. The detail used by the author allows your mind to bring you to that exact moment making you feel the emotions of each character. Undeniably one of the best books of our generation. You will lose yourself in this one....and when you get back to reality you will thank god for your wonderful life.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

This masterpiece is packed with Haunting description. It now resides in my top ten Best Reads ever! Timeline masterfully mimicked our own seldom-sequential memories. Easy to read, hard to put down and impossible to forget these characters and the unimaginable choices they made.

- Didn't get very far1 star

I know a lot of people think this book is great. I got bored with it midway through and stopped reading it. Just couldn't get into it, but what I did read was depressing and I didn't really care what happened to the characters. Maybe I've read too many WW2 books recently and need to give it another try. But that won't be for a long time!

- I loved it right until the very end4 star

I absolutely adored this book as I was reading it. Normally I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but this one kept me gripped and invested in the characters enough that it didn't bother me much. What I did mind, though, was the ending, which seemed to wrap up like a fairy tale and didn't at all match the very real tone of the novel up until that point. It seemed like way too clean and coincidental of an ending.

- I hate stories like this1 star

Don't waste your time unless you like investing in a bunch of characters who die tragically amidst the hell of war. Great visualization of the diverse but converging stories then everybody dies except one. Oh, and there's one other that lives but he's severely brain damaged. Wow, do I feel edified after that masterpiece!

- Exquisite5 star

Beautifully written story about the darkest of times told from a entirety human point of view. Knew it was different and special within the first two pages.

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- Fantastic !5 star

The only person who can see the light is blind and all the other characters stumble through in anguish and turmoil. Could not stop reading. Loved it from cover to cover.

- Could not stop reading5 star

Very well written with most compelling characters. Historical background story is very accurate. Highly recommended (I see Tom Hanks in the role of Etienne ;=) )

- So very good...5 star

I’m not good with words… I just couldn’t resist putting a 5-star rating here so that people might choose this wonderful book ahead of another one. It’s so worth the time.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star

This book is incredibly well written, a masterpiece, a work of art. A must read!

- Crap1 star

A pale, vapid imitation of Hemingway that co-opts both times and places with which the author is unfamiliar, and is original only in the extent of its aesthetic redundancy on a literary stage replete with such works

- Amazing book5 star

Hard to define the category. A wonderful book that combines suspense, mystery, romance, tragedy set in a backdrop of rapidly changing history. Characters that live on after you close the book and a story that you don't want to end. One of the best books I have ever read.

- Amazing5 star

This book is truly amazing. The amount of detail bring the story to life and you become so involved with the lives of the characters. Really gives you a beautiful look at the nature of people and the brutality of the war.

- If I could5 star

All The Light We Cannot See, is, as it's title suggests, purely made of magic. The story, the characters are so unassuming they will absorb you (and all your time) in a Carol Shields esque trap. Just one more sentence, paragraph, chapter, until you smile and realize your far down this rabbit hole that you have no desire to come back up. Almost every sentence is a reduction, a photograph made of poetry and still finds traction in historical accuracy; so is it an extended poem, a beautiful work of historical fiction? It finds a balance between both, very real and effortlessly enchanting. Not to compare, never to compare, but it is The Fabulous Life of Amelie entwined with The Piano and spiced with a dash of Luka and The Fire Of Life. If I could I would use the same entwining of poetry prose and verbal photography to capture and describe the elegance of this book but then if I could I would have written it. If I could....

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- Brought me back to fiction5 star

I haven't read pure fiction for some time, but this beautiful book has re-opened my eyes to the enjoyment I can receive from something besides narrative non fiction. I just finished it, but I'll be starting it again tomorrow.

- I guess I’m not seeing it..2 star

The writing was done very well. Great description and just the right amount of detail. However, I just couldn’t get into the plot. Some parts really had me thinking “Ok, here we go..This is when it get’s good”, but then it just dies off and transitions back to a lot of “radomoness”. This is the type of book that had such short chapters though, so maybe that’s what threw me off. Bottom line, I guess I’m just not seeing all the amazing reviews it’s gotten..

- Deserves Its Awards5 star

After reading this book, I'm confused that some reviewers found it to be "boring" and report that it is plotless. In fact the plot begins immediately and the author masterfully shifts time and place to unfold it. The characters, including several of the secondary ones, are drawn with great depth. The imagery is highly evocative. And in just about every other way it's interesting. The only fault I could find was the ending was somewhat disappointing, but only because I had such high hopes for the key characters, and not all my hopes for them were realized - but that's real life, isn't it? I've read most of the Pulitzer winners over a period of almost 50 years, and I believe this novel is as deserving of the honor as most.

- Unpleasant tedious read1 star

Sure it got a prize, sure it took ten years to write. Sure I did well in literature classes at an elite school. Tedious book, but after a while one can skim to get to the last page.

- Best book ever5 star

It's amazing! Really, best book ever!

- All the light...5 star


- Amazing.5 star

Just read it. Take your time.

- Good5 star

Han Solo dies at the end of Star Wars

- Great read5 star

Enjoyable read, very well written. A good perspective as seen from both sides of the war. Highly recommend

- Excellently written5 star

It is hard to put into words how good this book is and why...simply put, it's one of the best stories I've read in quite some time.

- :(2 star

It took me so long to get through the this book. Several chapters I would get hooked then it would dull down. I wanted the characters stories to intertwine so much sooner and when they finally did it was so brief. I wanted to enjoy this story more than I did but I just couldn't.

- Thoughtful, enchanting, eye opening.4 star

This book was amazing. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen it was different, which was what I was torn with. I love the story and how it turned out, but I kept wanting it to go in a different direction. Refreshing being surprised by the story line and loving it.

- Breathtakingly beautiful and enrapturing5 star

Hard to put this one down. Makes you feel like you're watching the story unfold before your eyes. Worth every penny and only sad that it had to end! Must read!!

- Very good, but VERY slow3 star

A wonderful story with wonderful detail. However, the middle half of the book was painfully slow. As much as I appreciated the story and character/scene developments, I also felt they could have been abbreviated to keep the story moving. I'm glad I stuck with it, but this was the first book in years that I came close to giving up on.

- All the Light We Cannot See5 star


- Mediocre2 star

This book was pretty boring and the characters had almost no personality. It kind of drags on too long to be worth the read.

- A must read4 star

Very touching and realistic. I hope it becomes a movie

- Beautiful and more than I dream to see5 star

This book is beautifully written. The main character is a young blind French girl and so there is a lot of detail that goes into describing what she cannot see. It was so descriptive that at times, I felt as if I was there and could even smell the air. It transports you to war, to Germany, to France, to those unfortunate days in history where innocence disappeared and loved ones lost. This was a heavier read than usual for me, but I honestly did not want this book to end.

- Authentic5 star

I am French and come from near Saint Malo. This book was fascinating and gave another dimension to all the WWII stories I have already heard. I really can picture the whole book

- Amazing5 star

I just finished reading this book right now and honestly, it was a fantastic well written book. You really connect with characters and go through the journey with them.

- Great book!5 star

I'm normally a thriller and mystery type reader but I took a chance on this book because of all the great reviews. I was not disappointed! This is possibly one of the best books I have ever read. So detailed (but not overly so) that all of my senses were engaged; I was there with the characters and in one case I actually held my breath so I wouldn't be heard.

- Amazing5 star

I couldn't put this book down. It was simply amazing and so well written I felt like I was there. I was disappointed that it ended and wish there was more!

- Magnificent story. Well written5 star

One of the best novels I have read. Well worth your time.

- Right cover Wrong Book1 star

I downloaded this from iBooks and while the cover and headings at the top seem correct the actual content on the pages is Fifty Shades of Grey can someone please fix this

- Beautiful!5 star

Loved this story. Character development was on the mark. Beautifully crafted story.

- Breathtaking5 star

Absolutely loved this book. It was so well written. The author takes you on this journey with the two main characters that you'll never want it to end.

- Incredible5 star

Easily one of the best books I've ever read.

- Amazing!5 star

Thank you Anthony Doerr for taking me on this journey. Emotionally charged!

- Absolutely amazing!5 star

I hardly ever rate a novel 5 stars but this one was phenomenal. You must read it!

- Wonderfully written5 star

Characters as big as life, easy to read, wonderful story.

- All the light we cannot see4 star

Doerr descriptions are near to Steinbeck quality.

- Sad, depressing, unsatisfying.2 star

I'm sorry. There is obvious effort and talent here but I don't see enough light to enjoy the trip.

- Read this book!5 star

This will probably be the best book I will ever read, because I can't imagine how anything could be better. You will fall in love with Marie-Laure and you will empathize with Werner. There isn't any emotion I didn't feel reading this book. Anthony Doerr's writing is incredibly beautiful. Read it!

- Superb5 star

Searing fiction.

- Powerful5 star

Beautifully written. Soul-searing. This story will stay in your heart. Painful, powerful portrayal of the goodness and complexity of the human spirit.

- Beautifully written!!!5 star

Amazing story, characters, and events!!! It's a sad story but some how beautiful at the same time.

- Wonderful read, but at times . . .4 star

Wonderful read, but at times . . . the chapters skipping back & forth in time were hard to follow, the long narratives were sometimes boring, and the ending didn't fit the book at all . . just my opinion. But would I read it again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

- Exquisite writing and compelling story4 star

Unfortunately I retract one star because of approximately 100 pages in the fourth section of five in the book. I found this part tedious and tiresome to the extent that could only skim. However, I have no regret for reading the book. It was a blessing.

- Slow, but true.5 star

The beginning was very slow and the passages just didn't connect or flow for me. However, once the book started to pick up the pace I found myself drifting into a land so was almost magical. The ending was definitely a cherry-on-top. I highly recommend this book, but you have to stick it out until the end..(or at least halfway by then you'll be hooked.)

- N/A5 star

At last, a work of literary art with soul. I haven't enjoyed a novel this much since Killer Angels. Thank you sir.

- The most boring book ever1 star


- Boring1 star

Plot doesn't start until page 400. Snail pace, barely any excitement, would not recommend.

- All the Light We Cannot See4 star

Exceedingly well written!

- Wonderful!5 star

One of my favorite books I've read in a good while! Unmatched quality of writing.

- Wonderful5 star

Lovely book! Beautifully written.

- Couldn't put it down!!!5 star

This book is beyond amazing!!! What I loved most about this book was All the light that I did See!!!

- A young person's perspective of Nazi occupation4 star

I very much enjoyed learning about the impact that the war must have had on young people (on both sides of history). The author makes you understand the terror that everyone experienced. The author divides the books in short chapters which makes it an easy read. At the same time, there are many characters, and it was at times a little difficult to keep track of everything that was going on. I was very impressed by the author's ability to provide an elaborate plot with so much richness.

- Tragically beautiful5 star

This is one of the best books I've ever read. I've never felt so much emotion after finishing a book.

- Absolute perfection.5 star

A beautiful, searing tale that will grip your very being. A must-read.

- Wonderful Read!5 star

Loved the characters and their emotions in this story which was like a puzzle that all comes around!

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The orphan siblings Werner and Jutta manage to tune in a broken radio for the first time... in Doerr ‘All the ligh…

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If you loved the book All the Light We Cannot See and you're thinking of visiting Saint-Malo, this episode is a mus…

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