Review: “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

In the spirit of complete honesty, let me admit that I did not at first enjoy this book. The first one hundred pages required endurance on my part as I found it difficult to really sink myself into the story. I do not blame the novel for this in any way. I actually attribute this to burn-out from school, but I digress.


All the Light We Cannot See is nothing short of a masterpiece. Doerr use breathtaking sentences to craft a haunting story that is entirely unique. Centered around Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl living with her widower father, and Werner Pfennig, an exceptionally gifted German boy. Their stories run parallel to each other and ultimately intersect in occupied France in the town of Saint-Malo.

Through these two young people, Doerr is able to explore ideas that stay with you long after you finish All The Light We Cannot See. Werner, in particular, I continue to ponder. Never have I stopped to consider children who were swept up into the German fighting force. They were too young to understand or contemplate the conflict in which they were required by their country to participate. This youth makes them victims on the side of the aggressors. Does their youth, though, save them from being guilty of complicity in the atrocities of war? Is the burden of conscience rightfully theirs or the adults who placed them in their situations? Obviously, I don’t have the answer to these questions and neither does Doerr. But that is the point. You are left, at the end, to ponder and come up with your own answer.

That is one of the things I liked most about All the Light We Cannot See. It demands something from the reader. It demands you attention and your thoughts even after you finish it. All the Light We Cannot See is not your beach-retreat, brainless read. It is a work of art that requires a great degree of thought to appreciate. Even so, it retains a short of airiness about it that compliment the subject matter beautifully. All of this works together to make a highly enjoyable work that I highly recommend.

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