Reviews for All the Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Shifting among multiple viewpoints but focusing mostly on blind French teenager Marie-Laure and Werner, a brilliant German soldier just a few years older than she, this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece. The main protagonists are brave, sensitive, and intellectually curious, and in another time they might have been a couple. But they are on opposite sides of the horrors of World War II, and their fates ultimately collide in connection with the radio-a means of resistance for the Allies and just one more avenue of annihilation for the Nazis. Set mostly in the final year of the war but moving back to the 1930s and forward to the present, the novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending. Marie-Laure and Werner both suffer crushing losses and struggle to survive with dignity amid Hitler's swath of cruelty and destruction. VERDICT -Doerr (The Shell Collector) has received multiple honors for his fiction, including four O. Henry Prizes and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His latest is highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's similarly haunting The English Patient.-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Broadway actor Appelman delivers a moving performance in the audio edition of Doerr's beautiful WWII novel. The story shifts back and forth in time, and alternates between the perspectives of two protagonists, Marie-Laure-a blind French girl whose locksmith father builds models of the city to help her adapt to her surroundings-and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan who is separated from his sister, Jutta, when he's called to work for the Nazis as an engineer. The stories are both involving in their own right, as we track how the peaceful lives of a father/daughter and brother/sister are slowly disrupted by the rise of the Nazis. Reader Appelman helps convey the emotional tension of each scene with dialogue that is devastatingly moving, and his portrayal of Marie-Laure's uncle, Etienne, is particularly effective. All and all, Appelman turns in a dramatic and well-paced performance of Doerr's richly conveyed and heartbreaking period piece. A Scribner hardcover. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Starred Review. Zach Appelman narrates Doerr's tender World War II tale of two young people: Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, and Werner, who was orphaned by a tragic mine accident. Marie-Laure's father is the locksmith for a natural history museum, and when Paris falls, he and his daughter escape to the home of her great uncle Etienne in Saint Malo, carrying what may be a priceless diamond. Her father is imprisoned and soon Etienne and Marie-Laure become resistance fighters, sending clandestine radio transmissions. In Germany, Werner escapes the mines because of his mathematical ability and interest in radios and is sent to a training camp for Hitler youth. Werner is conflicted he is receiving the education he wanted so desperately, but when confronted daily with injustice and brutality, he finally asks to leave. Instead, he is sent to the front. Using technology he helped develop, Werner is charged with finding and eliminating partisans such as Etienne and Marie-Laure. The listener knows that slowly, inextricably, Werner's and Marie-Laure's lives will intersect. But Doerr does not leave listeners in despair. Like light through the clouds, love, hope, and kindness peek through time and again. VERDICT Listeners must attend closely to this story of innocents caught up in the darkness of World War II. But if they do, they are rewarded with an excellent narration of a beautifully written story. ["The novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending," read the starred review of the Scribner hc, LJ 2/1/14.] Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In 1944, the U.S. Air Force bombed the Nazi-occupied French coastal town of St. Malo. Doerr (Memory Wall) starts his story just before the bombing, then goes back to 1934 to describe two childhoods: those of Werner and Marie-Laure. We meet Werner as a tow-headed German orphan whose math skills earn him a place in an elite Nazi training school-saving him from a life in the mines, but forcing him to continually choose between opportunity and morality. Marie-Laure is blind and grows up in Paris, where her father is a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, until the fall of Paris forces them to St. Malo, the home of Marie-Laure's eccentric great-uncle, who, along with his longtime housekeeper, joins the Resistance. Doerr throws in a possibly cursed sapphire and the Nazi gemologist searching for it, and weaves in radio, German propaganda, coded partisan messages, scientific facts, and Jules Verne. Eventually, the bombs fall, and the characters' paths converge, before diverging in the long aftermath that is the rest of the 20th century. If a book's success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr's novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war-despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices-cannot negate the pleasures of the world. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr's magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall and long ­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise's father, taking with him the museum's greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle's house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise's and Werner's paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.High-Demand Backstory: A multipronged marketing campaign will make the author's many fans aware of his newest book, and extensive review coverage is bound to enlist many new fans.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2014 Booklist

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