All The Light We Cannot See – A Book Review

Author – Anthony Doerr

Release Date – 6 May 2014

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

-Anthony Doerr, All The Light We Cannot See

This is a story of a teenage French girl, Marie Laure, who is blind since the age of six. Her father is her only support system and she sees the world through his eyes. He teaches her Braille, builds a wooden model of their neighborhood for her to remember every house, every lane and be independent. Besides the protagonist, there is an eight year old, intelligent, perceptive and sensitive German orphan named Werner, who learns to fix the broken short-wave radio which he discovers along with his sister Jutta. One day, he gets noticed by the German army and they send him to a special school that trains young soldiers for the Hitler’s army. His assignment brings him to Saint Malo of France’s northwest, where his path and Marie Laure’s path intersect.

Parallel stories (story 1- Nazi Germany and story 2- Paris, France) of their lives are told in quick, alternating chapters right from their childhood till their youth, until one fateful day, they both collide during the bombing of the French city in the summer of 1944.

This is not just a war story. It is a story of childhood bestrewed by war, caught against their will in the inexorable forces and dragged along in the destruction of the World War II.

Doerr’s prose is chillingly beautiful, right from the way he has made his metaphorical reference of his title that there are many invisible stories still hidden in the World War II, to the way he has written about the strong, caring characters and the how people stood by each other during the war times. The characters are beautifully weaved throughout the book. I always enjoy robust and flawed characters along with precise backstories and Doerr has done an amazing job with that.

This book has achieved through its vivid descriptions, captivating and heartbreaking story of the lives before and after the war. No wonder this book has received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. I would undoubtedly recommend this book to everyone and especially if you are a historical fan and enjoy character driven stories.

Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5.



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