All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Oh my goodness – I loved this book. Loved loved loved. It was in my to-read queue on my Kindle for months on end and everybody told me to read it because I would love it. Well, I should’ve listened to them sooner. Because they were right. So so right.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a work of historical fiction which centers around two main characters: Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl, and Werner, a young Nazi soldier. The story begins in the late 1930s – just before the Nazis invade France.

Werner was just a boy in Germany – an orphan with a gift for electrical wiring and radios. He finds an old radio, rebuilds it until it is once again functional, and discovers a world of music and information at his fingertips. He rapidly becomes known as the region’s go-to radio guy… and then his talent is discovered and he is conscripted into the Hitler Youth.

As the Nazis invade France, Marie-Laure and her father, a lock-maker for Paris’s Museum of Natural History, escape to his uncle’s home in Saint-Malo. Unbeknownst to Marie-Laure, her father has been tasked by the museum with carrying what could either be the Museum’s most precious jewel (a giant, possibly cursed diamond) or simply a replica.

The story flips back and forth between the two characters, briefly fast-forwarding every few chapters to the fall of Saint-Malo – where our protagonists’ stories converge – before backing up to resume the natural timeline of the story.

I could be totally wrong about this (I often am when interpreting stories as I simply do not “get” symbolism or deeper meaning 98% of the time), but – to me – All the Light We Cannot See is a story of communication. How it binds us. How, as our methods and technologies improve, we can reach further and further – and learn more and more about one another. How we can love from afar.

I would highly highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See to anybody looking for a new read. It’s a fairly long book (about 530 pages), but it is engrossing and Anthony Doerr’s writing is simply magnificent (there’s a reason why this novel won the Pulitzer Prize!).

Have you read All the Light We Cannot See yet? What’d you think of the novel? Let me know in the comments below!