All the Light We Cannot See


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The shore of St Malo


Written by American author Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See was published in 2014. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

All the Light We Cannot See is a beautifully-written story about war, love, and above all, morality. The story takes place in German-occupied St Malo, France during WWll and focuses in on Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German boy in the army, whose paths eventually cross.

Doerr shares his story in a unique way, starting the novel in the present tense and going into the past to tell the events that led to the current situation of both protagonists. Constantly changing the time frame and the point of view may sound confusing, but instead, it keeps the reader on edge and always wondering. Until the end of the novel, the full story is never revealed and this makes for an interesting, nonlinear plot. Written any other way, All the Light We Cannot See would fall flat, but Doerr’s style keeps the storyline captivating and allows his book to live up to its full potential.

Usually, there are three main aspects to a story: writing quality, characters and plot. Doerr hits the mark with his enthralling descriptive and poetic style, unforgettable and seemingly real characters and fast-paced and intriguing storyline.

This book is amazingly written and I devoured it quickly, but I am hesitant to recommend it. It did not end the way I expected… or wanted, but I have managed to come to terms with my loss and understand and accept Doerr’s choices. Because of this, I have to say that this is one of those books everyone should at some point read. It makes an excellent statement on integrity without being overbearing or shoving any lesson down the readers’ throats. I wouldn’t go as far to say that this book changed my life, but I definitely have a new and important perspective on ethics because of it.