All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Dec 13, 2023

This historical fiction novel by Anthony Doerr is a novel set against the backdrop of World War II and primarily follows two main characters, Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig. Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, flees Paris with her father when the Germans invade. They seek refuge in Saint-Malo, carrying with them a precious jewel from the Museum of Natural History, where her father worked. As they navigate the challenges of the war, Marie-Laure's father constructs a miniature model of the city to help her memorize its layout. On the other side, Werner Pfennig, an orphan with a gift for radio technology, is recruited into the German army. Despite his innate kindness, Werner becomes entangled in the brutalities of the war, facing moral dilemmas and struggling to maintain his humanity. The lives of Marie-Laure and Werner intersect in Saint-Malo, where the war takes an especially devastating toll. The novel beautifully explores their individual journeys, the impact of war on their lives, and the interconnectedness of their fates. Doerr's prose is rich and evocative, creating a vivid portrayal of the wartime experience. All the Light We Cannot See is an exploration of resilience, hope, and the enduring power of human connection amid the darkest of times. 

I enjoyed the characters of Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig, as well as the novel's evocative sense of time and setting. While I typically don't favor magical elements in stories, it works effectively in this book. However, I faced challenges with the novel's structure and pace, which prevented me from loving it. The constant shifts between time frames felt tedious, and the short chapters disrupted the flow of the story, making it a bit of a chore for me. I wished for a more continuous narrative instead of frequent interruptions between different periods and characters.

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