All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

A Novel

Book - 2014
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
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 ).
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2014
ISBN: 9781501104565
Branch Call Number: DOE
Characteristics: 531 p. ;,21 cm

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PoMoLibrary Aug 15, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Patricia: This is an excellent book in all aspects - story, character, writing - just lovely!


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e
essanator
Apr 17, 2018

Absolutely wonderful read! It may have started off slow, but compared to what? All the preteen/young adult novels out there? I loved all the details, and how the point of view changes with each short chapter. The descriptions are not overly detailed but gives you enough to let your imagination run. This book brought lots of emotion without forcing it. I would definitely reccomend this to someone who appreciates light fiction, and of course, WWII.

f
firefly5
Apr 03, 2018

I felt this book had a slow start but it picked up as I continued to read. There were times in the early part of the book that I wondered why I was reading this and was ready to return the book. As I got more into the story I could not put it down and read far into the night. Interesting contrast between a blind French girl and a young German boy during WW2. The conclusion fills in some of the gaps and I thought it worked very well.

c
claire1953
Apr 02, 2018

Read through this book rather quickly and the series of very short chapters made it easy to stop and return to the following chapter later. On the other hand, the constant back and forth between years made some of the story hard to follow at times. The story, which follows the story of Marie Laure, a blind French girl and Werner, a young German orphan who is recruited for his electronic abilities, contrasts well the horrors of war with the kindness which can still occur (and does). Anthony Doerr does a good job, in the last few chapters, of reuniting some of the characters to bring closure to the five-year period of World War II. I’m not sure why this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner but it was interesting with an intriguing story line.

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wmtlady
Mar 25, 2018

Reviewer J.R. Moehringr said "Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet."
I think this presents the amazing and captivating quality of this book, and why it continues to be much in demand. Please don't think you should be of a scientific mind to enjoy this; the book is full of fascinating details of gems, birds, aquatic creatures, insects, and on and on.

o
orange_lobster_23
Mar 16, 2018

Absolutely one of my favorite recent reads--because of the evocative description of Saint-Malo
and the interwoven characterizations of Warner and Marie-Laurie. Beautifully touching.

e
ErikaCh
Jan 24, 2018

I can understand why this book got very highly spoken about. But this book will not be my first pick among all the WW2 history novel.
For sure, it is superbly well written. To me, some paragraphs or even chapters are just redundant. The story itself lack a tempo/twist to it. Only the last 100 pages showed some tense. Also, some of the words maybe just too difficult for me to grab the beauty since English is not my native language.
I wasn't able to finish the book before it's due. So I turned to audio book. It is my first trying audio "reading". It enabled me to finish the book.

m
MaggieBrooklyn
Jan 23, 2018

I don't have a lot of time to read these days, so when I do read a book, it's got to be good. Literary or historical fiction is my favorite, and I usually pick something that has been well-recommended and has great reviews. Well, this book did not disappoint.

I read this a few years ago, and I think it's been one of my favorite books in recent years. Totally deserved the Pulitzer Prize. This is a fascinating story about these two characters, how they survived through really tough times. The story was very sad but also poignant and uplifting. Very well written. So engaging it was hard to put down. You want to read through to see what happens to the characters, but you also want to savor every page.

k
Kathi92
Jan 12, 2018

I am half way through the book and I am hooked. Short chapters (2-4pages) and the story about different sides and different perspectives during WW2 is amazingly to read and experience. The people are intriguing and you want to know what happens next. I didn't mind the jumps in time back and fourth which I usually dislike in books because you can lose track but it was easy to follow and had a good structure. The writing style is very detailed, maybe because Marie-Laure is blind and therefore a lot of things are described how she would perceive it.

All in all, I cannot put the book down and need to finish it. Maybe it is because I am German and even more intrigued by the history of Europe and what happened from people's perspective rather than history books.

I recommend this book to everyone because I would have not thought that I would be interested but I am very much.

h
hikerbean
Jan 11, 2018

One of my favorite books of all time. I've never suggested this book to anyone who didn't call and thank me for it. The writing is phenomenal, character development is fantastic, and the plot is exceptional. I honestly don't have enough superlatives to describe this work. I saw him speak at Seattle University during the Search for Meaning Book Festival. I bawled through his entire speech. He's an amazing human being and his unmatched curiosity makes for a superb intellect and skillful mastery of the writing craft!

Librarian_Deb Dec 03, 2017

Phenomenal. It's an interweaving story, one thread follows a young girl -blind and living in Paris with her father who works for the Museum of Natural History. This girl, Marie-Laure has learned to navigate the city through the intricate models her father builds. Unfortunately, they are living during World War II and when the Nazi occupation begins Marie's and her father have to flee Paris. They travel to Saint-Marlo, an walled city right next to the sea where Marie learns to navigate a new set of streets and to get along with her eccentric Great Uncle.
The other thread of the story follows Werner, an orphan boy growing up in Germany. He begins to develop an intense interest in radios - an interest that leads him to discovering extraordinary broadcasts that come from France, and an ability for repairing radios that is notices by the local authorities. They decide to send him to a special school where he can develop his skills - and be groomed to enter the German military machine.
Eventually the stories of these two young people comes together in a remarkable way. But I cannot by merely relating what happens in the book convey haw beautifully the story is told, how much the characters came alive in my mind, and how my heart was touched by their ups and downs. I would highly suggest if you like reading at all to read this remarkable book and find out for yourself what a treasure it is.

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Quotes

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s
shayshortt
Jan 12, 2017

Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

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

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

The ending thought:
And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it. Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world. We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

At her feet, the snails go about their work: chewing, scavenging, sleeping. Their mouths, Etienne has taught her, contain something like thirty teeth per row, eighty rows of teeth, two and a half thousand teeth per snail, grazing, scratching, rasping.
===
Etienne knew artillerymen who could peer through field glasses and discern their shells’ damage by the colors thrown skyward. Gray was stone. Brown was soil. Pink was flesh.
===
All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?
===
To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.
===
“Mutti, what goes around the world but stays in a corner?”
“I don’t know, Max.”
“A postage stamp.

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

“Is it right,” Jutta says, “to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”
===
“Did you know,” says Marie-Laure, “that the chance of being hit by lightning is one in one million? Dr. Geffard taught me that.” “In one year or in one lifetime?” “I’m not sure.” “You should have asked.”
===
“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”
===
Madame Ruelle says, “So the Gautier girl wants to get married. The family has to melt all its jewelry to get the gold for the wedding ring. The gold gets taxed thirty percent by occupation authorities. Then the jeweler’s work is taxed another thirty percent. By the time they’ve paid him, there’s no ring left!”
===
“But minds are not to be trusted. Minds are always drifting toward ambiguity, toward questions, when what you really need is certainty. Purpose. Clarity. Do not trust your minds.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

...It’s not a person you wish to fight, Madame, it’s a system. How do you fight a system?” “You try.”
===
“Can deaf people hear their heartbeat, Frau Elena?”
“Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle, Frau Elena?”
===
...plants eat light, in much the way we eat food.
===
What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.
===
Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever,...
===
There are ninety-six thousand kilometers of blood vessels in the human body, children! Almost enough to wind around the earth two and a half times . . .

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

Seems the entire book has been quoted in goodreads, but may be exceptions:
The hotel’s fourth floor, where garden rooms with French balconies open directly onto the ramparts, has become home to an aging high-velocity anti-air gun called an 88 that can fire twenty-one-and-a-half-pound shells nine miles.
===
Saint-Malo --- Up and down the lanes, the last unevacuated townspeople wake, groan, sigh. Spinsters, prostitutes, men over sixty. Procrastinators, collaborators, disbelievers, drunks. Nuns of every order. The poor. The stubborn. The blind.
===
Marie-Laure imagines the electromagnetic waves traveling into and out of Michel’s machine, bending around them, just as Etienne used to describe, except now a thousand times more crisscross the air than when he lived—maybe a million times more. Torrents of text conversations, tides of cell conversations, of television programs, of e-mail, vast networks of fiber and wire interlaced above and beneath the city, passing through buildings, ...

m
Magicworld
Aug 21, 2015

“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”

m
Magicworld
Aug 21, 2015

“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”

M_ALCOTT May 21, 2015

" We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother's birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us."-excerpt from "All the Light We Cannot See"

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a
anneholmquist
Dec 04, 2017

blind jewish girl in WWII, has blue diamond verybody is looking for. Intersects with young German wunderkind.

l
Liber_vermis
May 19, 2017

This novel has an "X" shaped plot. One leg follows the life of orphan Werner Pfennig who hopes to escape the poor, short life of a coal miner in western Germany. His quick-minded understanding of radio technology wins entry to a Nazi youth training school. He spends the Second World War pinpointing and destroying clandestine radio transmitters. The other leg of the plot follows the life of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind girl, who thrives in the Museum of Natural History in Paris where her father works. Forced to flee Paris by the invading Germans, the two narratives cross on a late summer day in 1944.

s
shayshortt
Jan 12, 2017

In 1934, at the age of six, Marie-Laure LeBlanc lost her eyesight. Her father, Daniel LeBlanc, is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. He builds Marie-Laure a scale model of their neighbourhood to help her navigate, and she spends her days with him at the Museum, reading Jules Verne in Braille. But their peaceful life is upset by the German invasion, and they flee the Nazi occupation of Paris, taking refuge in the coastal town of Saint-Malo. Unbeknownst to Marie-Laure, the Museum has entrusted her father with an item from its collection. What Daniel LeBlanc does not know is if it is the real artefact, or one of the three duplicates that was made to serve as a decoy. Meanwhile, in Germany, Werner Pfennig is orphan who lost his mother to illness and his father to the coal mines of Zollverein. He has a passion for radios and math. When war comes, these skills draw him to the attention of the Reich, and he is selected to attend a special military prep school where talented young Germans are indoctrinated into National Socialism.

m
maggielo
Aug 19, 2015

yng girl goes blind, flees nazis, meets orphan

n
novelust
Aug 10, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See is the beautiful story, set in WWII, of how the lives a blind French girl and orphan German soldier move slowly closer to one another and are destined to collide.

p
pattyloucor67
May 13, 2015

What an excellent book! At first, the thought of reading 500+ pages seemed daunting! But, Anthony Doerr constructs a beautiful work (with short chapters) and creates characters that endear themselves to you - I found I had trouble putting the book down. The story takes place during WWII, is told through the eyes of a blind French girl and a teenage Boy whose lives take different courses. Werner Pfennig, an orphan, and his sister survive in a coal-mining complex. It is Werner's exceptional aptitude for making and fixing radios that land him in a prestigious Reich military school. In Paris, Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives with her father, a locksmith employed at the Natural HistoryMuseum. Being blind, Marie-Laure spend her days with her father, learning from the feel of shells and organisms. As the war escalates, Marie and her father must flee Paris and love with an uncle in Saint-Malo, a town along the Atlantic Ocean. The recurring element of a fabulous diamond being pursued by the Nazis and Marie-Laure's father's role in keeping it out the their hands adds suspense. I loved how the lives of the two main characters develop, despite the desolation of the war - and how these two lives interesect, however briefly. A very worthwhile read!

b
bixby
Jun 23, 2014

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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taupe_skunk_4
Aug 27, 2016

taupe_skunk_4 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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