All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See is a poetic narrative on the complexities of war and the waste it can cause to human potential. Set in France and Germany over a ten-year period it is more than a war novel, it is an exploration of our differences and an ode to the power of freedom.  

This story of hope and regret is even more profound with current world events seeming to threaten the repeat of history. National fervour can be blindness and following without questioning a moral dilemma. The story is told from both sides of the war, highlighting the loss on both sides of history.   

The Plot

Marie Laure is blind and has always lived with her father in their apartment in Paris. Her world is felt through the miniature of her neighborhood that her father has made for her. When the Germans invade France in 1940 Marie Laure and her father flee to Sant Malo where her Great Uncle lives. At the same time, Werner, an orphan in Germany has been swallowed by the German war machine and is training to become a super soldier. He is singled out for his skill with radios and sent into a war fought by sound.  

Both children follow different paths toward their potential while struggling to understand themselves during the fog of war. Both will eventually collide in a life-changing event.   

The Review

Each different narrative runs parallel to the other. We watch the children grow side by side, seeing their struggles to navigate their worlds and become more than what society has chosen for them. Marie Laure is pitied for being blind and Werner is shunned for being an orphan in an industrial town in Germany.  

In a fascinating twist, we meet our protagonists in 1944 as the Allied bombing of Sant Malo is commencing. We begin at the end and then retrace their steps to 1934 to watch their life hurtle towards this penultimate moment.  

Both have so much potential, especially Werner, who is a self-taught genius with dreams of changing the world through science. Anthony Doerr, the author, takes us on a roller coaster of watching Werner rise, but he is always teetering on the edge of a precipice.  

The writing is like poetry, especially the subtle way that Doerr differentiates the world for Marie Laure and Werner. She is blind, so the descriptions focus on sound, feel, and imagination. This is done so subtly that it doesn’t become obvious until another storyline joins hers, and as the reader you can suddenly see again.  

Summary

This story will uplift you and break you, while fascinating with its twists and turns. You end up hoping for and wishing for the best for all involved. The ending, as befits a story of war is not always happy. There are resolutions that we never have, and fates that never rise to where they should. This is the beauty and tragedy of All The Light We Cannot See. This is the reality of war.

— Bliss
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Hi, I'm Bliss, the reader and writer behind Books For Bliss. Discover book reviews, lists for your next great read, or a story to make you feel great. It's all right at your finger tips; happiness on a page. Read More

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