Published by Scribner on May 6, 2014
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Length: 16 Hours, 2 Minutes
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
I put off reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr because I tend to be disappointed by popular, prize-winning books. It’s not that the books aren’t good, it’s just that there’s so much hype surrounding them that I’m usually left a bit deflated. But when I was asked to hop on a plane to California to check out the new Audiobooks.com integration with Buick, I was given this book to listen to and I knew I had to finally get around to it. That said, while I listened to some of it, I did most of my reading by actually reading it.
This Pulitzer Prize winning book follows the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner. Marie-Laure, a young woman blinded as a child, is forced to flee her home in Paris to Saint Malo with her father, the protector of a famous diamond that cannot be left in the city for fear of it being stolen. At the same time, but in another country, Werner is a young orphan who is a whiz with radios and joins the German military with the hopes that he will be able to escape the bleak mining life he faces.
As with all stories told through dual narratives, the two youngsters’ lives cross, but it is not the central storyline. Instead, the book is primarily about their individual stories and the impacts the war has had on them and their families. As Marie-Laure finds sanctuary with an elderly great uncle with a secret that could put their lives in danger, Werner struggles with his conscience and strives to maintain his humanity in a world deprived of it. The reader hops through time with them, experiencing their hopes, fears, joys, and disappointments, and the book evokes the full spectrum of emotions.If you haven't read All the Light We Cannot See yet then you're doing this reading thing wrong. Click To Tweet
What I loved about Doerr’s writing is that the chapters are short. This is a dense, heavy read that could easily have droned on and on, but Doerr kept the story going rather quickly by sticking to short, succinct chapters. The style not only made it seem like a quicker read, it was a fantastic way to build suspension and keep me on my toes with the anticipation of what was to come. He strikes that fine balance between vivid imagery and oversharing – I was able to see and feel what he was describing without being overwhelmed or bored by it. Plus, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice all of the subtle ways that light weaves its way into the story, which is great because it relates back to the title.
I wish I could say more about this book because it really is amazing, but I don’t want to give anything away. The book was so popular that I, myself, avoided reading too many reviews for fear of spoilers, meaning I’m now unsure about what information is common knowledge and what is a spoiler. Instead, I’ll leave you with this shorter review and a plea to pick it up and read it for yourself.
Recommended for: Fans of historical fiction and dual narratives that will leave you in awe by how they ultimately come together.