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All the Light We Cannot See

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).

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #905 in Books
  • Brand: Scribner Book Company
  • Published on: 2014
  • Released on: 2014-05-06
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.00" h x 1.70" w x 6.00" l, 1.51 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 531 pages

Features

  • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

1902 of 1994 people found the following review helpful.
The light within
By Jenna Frye
It has been a while since I have found a book that I wanted to read slowly so that I could soak in every detail in hopes that the last page seems to never come.

When reading the synopsis of this novel, I never imagined that I would feel so connected to a book where one of the main characters is blind and the other a brilliant young German orphan who was chosen to attend a brutal military academy under Hitler's power using his innate engineering skills.

This novel was so much more than the above states. The idiosyncrasies of each individual character are so well defined and expressed in such ways that come across the page almost lyrically. I was invited into the pages and could not only imagine the atmosphere, but all of my senses were collectively enticed from the very first page until the last.

I was so amazed with the way that the author was able to heighten all my senses in a way that I felt like I knew what it was like to be blind. In most well-written books you get of a sense of what the characters look like and follow them throughout the book almost as if you are on a voyage, but with this novel, I could imagine what it was like to be in Marie-Laure's shoes. The descriptives were so beautifully intricate that I could imagine the atmosphere through touch and sound. It was amazing, really.

There were so many different aspects of the book that are lived out in separate moments and in different countries that find a way to unite in the end. What impressed me most was that I could have never predicted the outcome. It was as though all cliches were off the table and real life was set in motion. Life outside of books can be very messy and the author stayed true to life but in a magical and symbolic way.

I have said in other reviews that just when I think that I have read my last book centered around the Second World War, another seems to pop up. I should emphasize that this book created an image of war in a way that I have never imagined before. I truly got a sense of what it must have been like for children who lived a happy life and then suddenly were on curfew and barely had food to eat. It also showed the side of young children who are basically brainwashed by Nazi leaders and made into animals who seem to make choices that they normally wouldn't in order to survive. And by survive, I mean dodging severe abuse by their own colleagues.

This book may haunt me for some time. I can't express enough how beautifully written the pages are. I highly recommend this read as it is my favorite so far for 2014.

1850 of 1958 people found the following review helpful.
One of the best books you'll read this year. Beautiful!
By Ryan J. Dejonghe
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is one of the best books you’ll read this year. On one hand, the title implies the lessons learned by a young German orphan boy about radio waves. On the other hand, as the author describes it, “It’s also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II.” Add in a newly blinded French girl who is forced to leave her familiar surroundings, and you’ll soon find yourself in literary heaven.

The layered meanings run deep in this book. No wonder nearly every advanced review uses the word “intricate” to describe this masterpiece. The German boy and his sister discover an old radio, where they hear science lessons from afar. There are lessons about the brain, sitting inside the darkness of our skull, interpreting light; there are lessons about coal having been plants living millions of years ago, absorbing light, now buried in darkness; lessons about light waves that we cannot see—all applicable as the story unfolds.

Readers will appreciate the short, almost lyrical chapters of alternating characters. The author helps by italicizing earlier mentioned quotes and then leaving almost every chapter closing with a message to ponder. Take for example: “a real diamond is never perfect”, “open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever”, and “the entropy of a closed system never decreases”. All of this is explained in a natural way, but never given out in an assuming manner. The story flows and draws your heart into its deep meaning.

Having personal connections to both veterans of World War II and members of the blind community, I can attest to the authenticity of this story’s writing. Author Anthony Doerr brings out lovely characters, along with their own fascinations: seashell collecting, bird watching, locksmithing, electronics, and geology. The history surrounding these personal stories is real and deep. You will fall in love.

The author also includes connections to the song Clair de Lune, the book 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and a fictional story about a priceless diamond called the Sea of Flames, whose owner “so long as he keeps it, the keeper of the stone will live forever.”

I cannot proclaim loud enough how much this book means to me; I have been left awe-inspired. So, thank you to Scribner for making this book available for me to review. It has been an honor.

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
Brutal, Poignant, Powerful and Poetic.
By Fairbanks Reader - Bonnie Brody
I never expected to love this book as much as I did. As I listened to it on unabridged audio day after day, I couldn't wait to get into my car so that I could again resume my time in the world that Mr. Doerr created. Set in France and Germany, primarily during World War II, this is primarily a novel of two people, each very different yet both spellbound by the world.

One protagonist is a young blind girl in France who loves and is much loved by her father. When they have to evacuate Paris because of the German invasion, the girl's life is turned upside down. Her father, the locksmith for a Paris museum is entrusted with a an extraordinarily valuable stone that is said to have mythical powers. They go to a smaller city to reside with her father's uncle who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of World War I. He is agoraphobic and can barely leave his bedroom most days. He does have one hobby however, He has a radio broadcast that he sometimes sends out that is preceded by beautiful classical music.

The German boy is brought up in an orphanage with his sister and he is a savant when it comes to engines and small machinery, especially radios. He is quickly brought to the attention of the SS and sent to a special school where his abilities are recognized and he is esteemed. His roommate is a fragile boy, one who loves birds and the magic of nature. The boys at the school bully him until their acts become tragic. While basically, a good person, the German boy is not strong and he is unable to stand up for his friend or most of his beliefs. He follows orders and then feels the shame and self-loathing that go with that.

At some point, the paths of the German boy and the French girl cross and this is the zenith of the book. The novel is written in powerful and poetic language with not a wasted sentence. Mr. Doerr is a poet and a story-teller, a man who knows how to reach the depths of the human soul. His writing is ephemeral, beatific and brutal. He understands the human condition. His characterization is superb. I felt honored to read this book.

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