Review–All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


All The Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

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).

Source: I purchased a hardcover.

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 All The Light We Cannot See was a Pulitzer Prize winning book that looked incredibly interesting. It was all the rage last year, but I waited to read it until the mood really struck, which I figured would be in the winter.

The book was beautifully written and the plot was moving. It was set during World War 2 and it was definitely one of those books designed to pull at your heart and move you. In many ways, it did. There is no denying that the book is well written. Not only were sentences put together in poetic ways, the author was also well versed in the technical aspects of his world and demonstrated knowledge when necessary.

With all that being said, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I’d hoped I would. It was longer than it had to be and it jumped around a bit from one moment in time to another and from character to character. I couldn’t truly connect with any of the characters because I never really felt like I was in their head. Instead, I was hovering over them, watching them in their world, but never really knowing who they are.

As I feared, All The Light We Cannot See wasn’t really the kind of book for me. I think I expected way too much and I felt like I was trudging through a lot of the book. I didn’t like the layout and how far away the characters seemed. I think the short chapters and beautiful prose would make it a great book for the kind of readers who pick up and finish a chapter or two at a time and prefer to set books down over a long period of time. Trying to dive into it like I typically do with books did not work at all. Also, I feel like this book would be geared towards those best seller book club book readers. I kind of read it and thought “Ok, I like that sentence, but overall I feel like I know where this is going.”

I definitely understand the wonderful reviews and awards. It’s a beautiful story. I do recommend the book, especially if you are the kind of reader I mentioned above. I think the time period is one that has a lot of great fiction written in it and for me, All The Light We Cannot See just didn’t do it for me.



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