Belinda’s Book Nook Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer


Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Copyright:  May 6, 2014
Genre: non-fiction
Format: book Pages: 545

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.

My Thoughts:

I heard so many people praise this book on booktube and was thrilled when my bookclub chose it for one of our reads in February. I decided to read it in January since it was a rather large book and I have big book phobias.  I always look at big books and keep walking when I am in the book store. However, with my e-reader, I find that I can read them and that much of it is psychological. I also have spoiled myself with my Nook because I don’t have to worry about trying to hold a big book when I read in bed. Which let’s face it, is not the most enjoyable thing because I like to lay down at night and read and it’s not happening with this book. However, for some crazy reason, I decided to buy the hardcover that was on some crazy ridiculous sale at Barnes and Noble. I was thinking I might want to mark passages I want to discuss while at book club and it’s easier with a physical copy than an ebook.

I saw the author of this book being interviewed on television before reading this book and I was really impressed with him and the amount of research that went into writing this book. He also said that the two main characters would meet around page 400.  So I had a little clue before going into the book.

I was so impressed with how the author captured so much essence of the sense of a blind person when he wrote about Marie Laure. How she used all of her other senses so keenly to absorb her surroundings and make sense of them. It makes me realize how having sight can dampen the beauty and richness of all of the other senses. I think because we use our sight to classify more than experience fully. Life for Marie Laure was not easy but she remained strong beyond her years.

The story moved back and forth between Marie Laure and Werner in each chapter. Sometimes it would stay longer with one more than the other. The author used short chapters so it helped when I needed to put the book down I could always complete a chapter first.  I was curious about Werner’s story at the orphanage with his sister  and heartbroken when he was recruited to Hitler’s Resistance. Werner was so talented and unfortunately he had no control over his life with limited options (mining with high risk of desk or joining the war effort). It made me so sad to know that he never was able to dictate his life and be able to see his potential fully blossomed for good.

The supporting characters were also very richly described and interesting.

Did I like the book you ask? Yes, I did find the story was very interesting. Did I think that the length was fine? Nope. I think he could have easily shaved off 100 pages and the book still would have been great.

Even with the excruciating length I would give this book 4 butterflies.



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