All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

img_0317Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: Print 544
Digital: eAdudiobook 16 hrs 02mins
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Author: Anthony Doerr
Rating: ★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I borrowed a copy of this book from a library in Sugarland, TX. The copy used for this review was a printed copy for the first half and the second half was an audiobook from Scribd. This review is no way tied to the library or the publisher. 

Goodreads Synopsis

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. 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, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Favorite Quotes

‘Don’t you want to live before you die?”

Final Thoughts

This book was actually recommended to me by my coworker and I adored it. I have a degree in History and I am trying to read more historical fiction. I cried, yelled at the pages, and held my breath while reading this novel. It took me over two weeks to finish because I had to keep putting it down to breath.

The book starts off near Paris with Marie-Laure in the Museum of Natural History listening to a guide explain the history of a prized jewel that is kept in the museum. The guide in the novel explains the myths surrounding the jewel and why it is kept in a special lock box in the museum. Afterwards we learn more about Marie-Laure and her fathers relationship by getting a glimpse of their everyday life and how they handle her condition. Then the author transitions to telling the story of Werner and his relationship with his family. The author develops a multi-level back story for each character sharing little details of their parents and siblings. I personally would have liked more depth in the back story of the main characters but I am confident that would have added more to the page count. The story then follows both characters through the war and details how each handles the various events. In the beginning of the book I wondered why the author would have two very unique main characters and the importance of the two. Later I realized that each character provided different perspectives of the war. The story continued on to be filled with sadness, grief, , love, happiness, family, and friendship. The  last five chapters were the hardest and happiest chapters for me. This was mostly due to the revisiting of family members of each character and the development of the supporting characters. Also, the ending shares a glimpse of the main characters and their families in the future. The author writes about how the family members of these characters were affected by the war, where they are now, and how they are dealing with the aftermath mentally and physically. The author did a fantastic job with the character development, the realism, and the overall plot of this book. I personally like a bit more violence since this is a book that focuses on World War II but I cam understand the point of this novel was to tell it from the perspective of the youth.

This book definitely takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. I recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction. I would also recommend the audiobook, the narrator is amazing. If you’re interested in reading a Young Adult Historical Fiction then I would recommend the Alex & Eliza series by Melissa De La Cruz. It’s a fictional tale of the life of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. It is laced with humor throughout the entire novel. You can find my review of the Alex & Eliza story here.

To purchase your copy of this novel, visit Anthony Doerr’s website at for access to purchasing links. 

Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

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2 thoughts on “All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

  1. great review! I’ve heard great things about this one. I don’t particularly enjoy historical fiction but i’m going to try to read at least one in 2019. i think i’m gonna try the nightingale!


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