Review of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a book by Anthony Doerr, set in World War 2 and tells the seperate story of two children, Marie-Laure from Paris and Werner from Germany. Marie-Laure is a blind 6-year-old who lives with her father and they move to Saint-Malo to her great-uncle when Germany attacks Paris. Werner is an orphan living with his sister in orphanage led by Frenchwoman who gets interested in radio and how things works at very young age and his cleverness earns him attendance to Nazi school then entering in war he’s intercepting illegal radio broadcasts.

What made me interested in book was the title – at first I thought it was a reference to all the things we cannot see because our abilities are limited or are too focused. After reading I realized I was right but concluded it referred more specifically to radio broadcasting with which you can broadcast messages, music. Radio is after all the vocal point of the story which connects the two children. I was impressed that Werner liked to listen to science program that was broadcasted by Frenchman who was in fact great-uncle of Marie-Laure. Werner was sent to eliminate enemy broadcasting but when realizing the truth he lied about it and saved the girl (also physically from intruder in her house and escorting her to safe place).

Storytelling in the book is really great, filled with nice thoughts. I liked how author were telling Marie-Laure’s part of the story – he described her surrounding using other senses like smell an touch since she is blind.

There are few things though I didn’t like but are minor. I thought story could be shortened in the middle and still not lose the main idea. I’m not a fan of non-linear story-telling especially if the segments are dated (how could I remember them?).

I didn’t like how tragically the story ended for Werner – felt quite bad for him after finishing the book. I don’t read books with war theme but I think this book is the first that got me thinking the war didn’t bring suffering only to nations attacked by Nazis but also to soldiers who fought on Nazi side. Surely not all of them felt great killing fellow human beings but were forced to.

All the Light We Cannot See really transferred me to that time and taught me something about interpersonal relations.