All The Light We Cannot See

Book review by Tiffany Tsoi

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

Anthony Doerr’s enthralling novel, All the Light We Cannot See, begins late during World War II, in the historical french city of Saint-Malo. Throughout the story, the narration flits between the perspectives of Marie-Laure, a blind french girl from Paris, and a german orphan named Werner, whose talent for mechanics has landed him in the German Army. The entire novel is chronicled by a series of flashbacks, telling the tale of Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s childhood, and how their paths eventually cross.

Although it may seem like the quintessential wartime love story at first, in reality, it is much more than that. Beginning to read it myself, I felt hesitant, and was intimidated by the length of the book (which is a total of 544 pages). Nevertheless, fifty pages in, I had become absorbed into the complex and bittersweet lives of each and every individual character. What I love most about this book is how Anthony Doerr manages to write so elegantly about many intriguing characters, philosophical concepts, and separate events that occur in separate countries- all of which he unites and links together at the end of the story, making the novel even more thought-provoking.

Strung together in a way that is almost poetic, the prose is written so beautifully that the reader will find themselves immersed utterly in the world of the characters, and clambering for more. Filled with rich imagery and captivating characters, accompanied by the mesmerising subplots that lace throughout, this book stays true to one core theme- the way that the lives of different people can intertwine and connect both during and after the difficult times of war.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a compelling story to dive into. All the Light we Cannot See is a tale that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it. An outstanding novel in it’s own right, it is gripping, deeply moving, and hauntingly beautiful.