All The Light We Cannot See opens eyes to different stories


Photo Credit: Kelly Branco

All The Light We Cannot See captivates readers around the world, from teenagers to adults.

By: Kelly Branco, Editor and Reporter

All The Light We Cannot See is a book written by Anthony Doerr, it is a New York Times bestseller. It is his second novel and he won the 2015 Pulitzer Fiction Prize for it. It took him over 10 years to finish writing it.


Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old girl living in Saint-Malo, France with her father and great-uncle Etienne. Werner Pfenning is an 18-year-old German soldier who lives in Saint-Malo. Both are living in the middle of World War II. Marie-Laure lived in Paris with her father who worked at the National Museum of History but had to flee because the Nazi army invaded. Werner lived in an old mining town at an orphanage with his sister Jutta.  He was interested in fixing radios and transmitters. It tells about how Marie-Laure got used to becoming blind at 14 and how she ended up in Saint-Malo. You also see how Werner was accepted into the Nazi training school and ended up in the Nazi army. The novel talks about their experiences, feelings, and how they adjusted to the fast changes in their world in the middle of the war.


Doerr wrote this book brilliantly. The description was extensive but not too much that made you bored and frustrated. The chapters switched back and forth between the past and the present which might be confusing to some readers but there are dates with each part that help the reader know whether they’re in the past or the future. You got to see the way the past affected the present and why certain characters are the way they are.

This novel is a historical fiction novel. Readers don’t necessarily have to know much about World War II to enjoy it. Doerr doesn’t include very specific events that only history lovers would know about. He centered this book in France and Germany so some French and German phrases occur throughout the text. Sometimes there are translations right after. Most of the time the words repeat constantly so context clues will help the reader figure out their meaning. I think that adding French and German words makes the story more immersive.

I fell in love with the character Marie-Laure LeBlanc. She remained positive and resourceful throughout the novel. Especially when she became blind, she didn’t use it as a crutch as to why she couldn’t do anything.  She was not afraid of any of the danger that was in the world around her. I also loved Mr. LeBlanc, her father. He had every curve ball thrown at him but he still wants to make the world great for his daughter. I couldn’t tell you how many times I smiled reading the things he said to Marie-Laure. The positivity he gave her just rubbed off. He wanted her to remember him as a happy man having a good time. He taught Marie-Laure very valuable life lessons that any reader could take from.

One thing I didn’t like was the one interaction Werner and Marie-Laure had with each other. Call me a sucker for cliche stories but Werner seemed attracted to Marie-Laure the moment they met. I expected him to help her and they both run away together. I wanted more.

Final Thoughts

This book showed a different side of the war. Usually I read about the Nazi army being horrible and cold-blooded. The scenes where Werner is training to be a German soldier broke my heart. The brutality of it all just was appalling. In reality, the Nazi’s forced teenagers to join by telling them that it was their duty to serve their country. Werner hated the fact that the army killed innocent children and that he had to kill innocent people.