All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Downloadable Audiobook - 2014
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A blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Audio, 2014
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781442378735
Branch Call Number: eAudio
Characteristics: 1 online resource (17 audio files) : digital
Additional Contributors: Appelman, Zach
Alternative Title: All the light we can't see

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Opinion

From Library Staff

Drumroll...still the most popular book at CHPL!

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Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Dec 09, 2015

I was on the hold list a long time for this book, and I don't think it was worth the wait. There are some beautiful passages in this book, but as a whole the book was bogged down with too many subplots and jumps in chronology. There were entirely too many chapters devoted to a villain tracking do... Read More »

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Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Aug 22, 2015

"That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life l... Read More »

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Chapel_Hill_TishaW Jan 18, 2015

This was an enjoyable, bittersweet story. "All you could have been," a quote addressed to one of the main characters, captures the story's main idea: how much was lost during WWII, as depicted through the experiences of Werner, a German scientist-soldier, and Marie-Laurie, a blind teena... Read More »


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e
Emmapaw257
Sep 22, 2017

I loved the way this book brought on an entirely new perspective to WW2, with the use of a 2 perspective narrative Dorr was able to perfectly capture the ignorance of both the germans and those under rule of Germany. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an intelligent and meaningful read.

j
jandt_mcmurray
Sep 07, 2017

In a time of great turmoil comes a story of undying hope. There is a precious stone, one of a kind, that everybody would love to get their hands on, including the Nazis. This stone is said to give the holder unconquerable power. There are those who have sworn to protect it from those who would seek to use it for personal gain. Knowing that the Nazis would soon be after it, 3 copies of the stone were made & distributed in order to further protect the real one. 3 separate stories are going on at the same time: the protector of the stone, the seeker of the stone, & the young orphan boy that joins the 3rd Reich simply as a stepping stone to give him the means to go to college & make a life for himself. 3 separate people --- 3 separate lives. The stone protector is an innocent bystander that is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The stone seeker has evil intentions & get what he wants at any cost. The young orphan boy that joined the 3rd Reich finds that all of the evil things he's heard about what they are doing are actually true, but he firmly does NOT agree with these heinous acts, & he seeks to redeem himself & his choice to join this group. Lives are lost, both in death & in terrible torture. But even in the midst of such evil, love & goodness still survive.

My favorite part of this story was the brief intersection of Marie-Laure's (stone protector) & Werner's (orphan boy) stories. Werner is working to redeem his terrible choice to join the 3rd Reich, & he is presented with an opportunity to save a life. While raiding the small town of Saint-Malo where Marie-Laure lives & has been sending radio broadcasts on behalf of the Resistance, Werner discovers her illegal activity but decides to let it continue as if he'd never found her. He then falls in loves with & saves Marie-Laure, keeping her & the precious stone from the clutches of the stone seeker. Just after this noble act, Werner becomes sick, begins to recover, then steps on a landmine & dies. A budding love story cut off before it could ever get off the ground. Years later, Werner's sister comes in to possession of some of Werner's things, & she sets off to find out more about 2 of them. She pays a visit to Marie-Laure, & she discovers her brothers final acts of love & bravery. She then continues her journey to visit Werner's best friend from training camp only to find that he tortured to the point of insanity. She returns the object to him in hopes that it would bring up good memories for him about his time w/Werner. This is not what I would call a "feel good" story, but it's a lovely story of sparks of hope that cannot be squelched by the darkness all around it.

Age recommendation: 16 & up (profanity, heinous acts of torture)

On a scale of 1-10 stars, I give it 7.

a
ace_combs
Aug 13, 2017

On of those books you hear so much praise for you think it can't live up to the hype. For me, it did and more. Doerr blends science and art, poetry and prose, untrammeled beauty and the horror of war into a riveting book that serves up its short chapters like confections. I found myself late at night saying, "Well, just one more."

Marie-Laure is the solid grounded center around which the book revolves and her blindness doesn't make her a cipher or unnaturally noble--she's a real kid who simply deals with her lot in life and tries to survive and take what joys she can. At the same time, her tenous situation is made all the more dangerous by being caught in a war zone being fought over by the Allies and Axis. There are some rich poetic moments and some grisly ones--the author doesn't hold back. In a book where hiding is integral to the story, nothing is hidden from the reader.

e
eringobraugh18
Aug 11, 2017

Beautifully written, couldn't put it down.

k
kafkakat
Aug 07, 2017

It was just okay...definitely had some inventive high points but it didn't quite hold me...I wanted to really love it...

a
aelchaar
Aug 01, 2017

Beautifully written.

d
DruC
Jun 30, 2017

A lovely book that subtly focusses on the goodness - the light - inside some people in the face of horror and evil. Well worth a read, but only four stars because I thought going into the future at the end of the story was a mistake.

w
williamkricket
Jun 30, 2017

War is hell. But this novel is at the top with my all time favourite books. Beautifully written, with unforgettable characters and a plot that draws you in and doesn't let go. It was even better on the second reading.

2
2224966701
Jun 11, 2017

As good as Nightingale.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jun 09, 2017

Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See is an absolutely amazing piece of literature! It is a novel of realistic and historical fiction, and revolves around the two main characters Marie-Laure LeBlanc who is a blind Parisian, and Werner Pfennig who is a German orphan. The novel propels the readers through the characters’ life stories during the Nazi invasion in 1944. Anthony Doerr is an incredibly intelligible man who brings out the world of science and history in poetic forms so that it is communicable to readers of all ages and interest. I loved this book and the way every setting, person, or event was described with such a vast lexicon that brought the supposed mood to the readers. Hats off to Anthony Doerr and All The Light We Cannot See! I definitely give this book a 5/5 star rating! I recommend this book for ages 12 and up!
- @ilovefood of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

As deep as the ocean and more, this book will pull in readers with its unresistable hypotonizing charm. Marie-Laure, the purest soul one could ever meet, is a genuine protagonist to follow. Werner, a bright young man who would rather be defined by his thoughts than his intelligence, goes through things that would break down almost anyone else. Although I was expecting the two to meet up, it didn't happen until way past halfway in the book. I didn't know what I was supposed to be expecting, but this was clearly not a romance book. Metaphorically, they both lived through a cloudy and dark day. I think their only meeting was like a moment of light, like a bright red of a sunset that escaped the veil, before the setting of the sun into the water. 4/5 stars
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

This story is a combination of two tales; that of Marie-Laure, and that of Werner. Both are on conflicting sides in the middle of one of the largest wars on earth; world war 2. But throughout the story, you see how similar these people are, and how, in light of these recent events, people still retain their humanity. A quote that I found touched me the most, and that summarizes the story exquisitely, is this, "'Your problem Werner,' says Frederick (Werner's friend from cadets), 'is that you still believe you own your life.'" This is true for both Werner and Marie-Laure. For, amongst the ashes, we will rise. Hope, innocence, and loyalty is all tested in this one, tremendous story of hearts that will never break. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever felt anything at all in their hearts. Be prepared for a worthwhile week on the couch with the Kleenex box.
- @AelinBaggins of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

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Quotes

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s
shayshortt
Jan 12, 2017

Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

The ending thought:
And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it. Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world. We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

At her feet, the snails go about their work: chewing, scavenging, sleeping. Their mouths, Etienne has taught her, contain something like thirty teeth per row, eighty rows of teeth, two and a half thousand teeth per snail, grazing, scratching, rasping.
===
Etienne knew artillerymen who could peer through field glasses and discern their shells’ damage by the colors thrown skyward. Gray was stone. Brown was soil. Pink was flesh.
===
All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?
===
To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.
===
“Mutti, what goes around the world but stays in a corner?”
“I don’t know, Max.”
“A postage stamp.

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

“Is it right,” Jutta says, “to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”
===
“Did you know,” says Marie-Laure, “that the chance of being hit by lightning is one in one million? Dr. Geffard taught me that.” “In one year or in one lifetime?” “I’m not sure.” “You should have asked.”
===
“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”
===
Madame Ruelle says, “So the Gautier girl wants to get married. The family has to melt all its jewelry to get the gold for the wedding ring. The gold gets taxed thirty percent by occupation authorities. Then the jeweler’s work is taxed another thirty percent. By the time they’ve paid him, there’s no ring left!”
===
“But minds are not to be trusted. Minds are always drifting toward ambiguity, toward questions, when what you really need is certainty. Purpose. Clarity. Do not trust your minds.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

...It’s not a person you wish to fight, Madame, it’s a system. How do you fight a system?” “You try.”
===
“Can deaf people hear their heartbeat, Frau Elena?”
“Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle, Frau Elena?”
===
...plants eat light, in much the way we eat food.
===
What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.
===
Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever,...
===
There are ninety-six thousand kilometers of blood vessels in the human body, children! Almost enough to wind around the earth two and a half times . . .

j
jimg2000
Mar 15, 2016

Seems the entire book has been quoted in goodreads, but may be exceptions:
The hotel’s fourth floor, where garden rooms with French balconies open directly onto the ramparts, has become home to an aging high-velocity anti-air gun called an 88 that can fire twenty-one-and-a-half-pound shells nine miles.
===
Saint-Malo --- Up and down the lanes, the last unevacuated townspeople wake, groan, sigh. Spinsters, prostitutes, men over sixty. Procrastinators, collaborators, disbelievers, drunks. Nuns of every order. The poor. The stubborn. The blind.
===
Marie-Laure imagines the electromagnetic waves traveling into and out of Michel’s machine, bending around them, just as Etienne used to describe, except now a thousand times more crisscross the air than when he lived—maybe a million times more. Torrents of text conversations, tides of cell conversations, of television programs, of e-mail, vast networks of fiber and wire interlaced above and beneath the city, passing through buildings, ...

m
Magicworld
Aug 21, 2015

“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”

m
Magicworld
Aug 21, 2015

“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”

M_ALCOTT May 21, 2015

" We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother's birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us."-excerpt from "All the Light We Cannot See"

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Summary

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l
Liber_vermis
May 19, 2017

This novel has an "X" shaped plot. One leg follows the life of orphan Werner Pfennig who hopes to escape the poor, short life of a coal miner in western Germany. His quick-minded understanding of radio technology wins entry to a Nazi youth training school. He spends the Second World War pinpointing and destroying clandestine radio transmitters. The other leg of the plot follows the life of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind girl, who thrives in the Museum of Natural History in Paris where her father works. Forced to flee Paris by the invading Germans, the two narratives cross on a late summer day in 1944.

s
shayshortt
Jan 12, 2017

In 1934, at the age of six, Marie-Laure LeBlanc lost her eyesight. Her father, Daniel LeBlanc, is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. He builds Marie-Laure a scale model of their neighbourhood to help her navigate, and she spends her days with him at the Museum, reading Jules Verne in Braille. But their peaceful life is upset by the German invasion, and they flee the Nazi occupation of Paris, taking refuge in the coastal town of Saint-Malo. Unbeknownst to Marie-Laure, the Museum has entrusted her father with an item from its collection. What Daniel LeBlanc does not know is if it is the real artefact, or one of the three duplicates that was made to serve as a decoy. Meanwhile, in Germany, Werner Pfennig is orphan who lost his mother to illness and his father to the coal mines of Zollverein. He has a passion for radios and math. When war comes, these skills draw him to the attention of the Reich, and he is selected to attend a special military prep school where talented young Germans are indoctrinated into National Socialism.

m
maggielo
Aug 19, 2015

yng girl goes blind, flees nazis, meets orphan

n
novelust
Aug 10, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See is the beautiful story, set in WWII, of how the lives a blind French girl and orphan German soldier move slowly closer to one another and are destined to collide.

p
pattyloucor67
May 13, 2015

What an excellent book! At first, the thought of reading 500+ pages seemed daunting! But, Anthony Doerr constructs a beautiful work (with short chapters) and creates characters that endear themselves to you - I found I had trouble putting the book down. The story takes place during WWII, is told through the eyes of a blind French girl and a teenage Boy whose lives take different courses. Werner Pfennig, an orphan, and his sister survive in a coal-mining complex. It is Werner's exceptional aptitude for making and fixing radios that land him in a prestigious Reich military school. In Paris, Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives with her father, a locksmith employed at the Natural HistoryMuseum. Being blind, Marie-Laure spend her days with her father, learning from the feel of shells and organisms. As the war escalates, Marie and her father must flee Paris and love with an uncle in Saint-Malo, a town along the Atlantic Ocean. The recurring element of a fabulous diamond being pursued by the Nazis and Marie-Laure's father's role in keeping it out the their hands adds suspense. I loved how the lives of the two main characters develop, despite the desolation of the war - and how these two lives interesect, however briefly. A very worthwhile read!

b
bixby
Jun 23, 2014

1934-1944 France
A blind girl trying to survive the German occupation and Allied shelling of Saint Malo on the coast of France, a young, reluctant German soldier tasked with finding radio transmissions, and a German officer searching for a diamond which he believes will cure his illness.....fantastic manipulation of characters and events to bring them and the war to an end.

Notices

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j
jandt_mcmurray
Sep 07, 2017

Sexual Content: no sexual situations, but there are crass conversations about reproductive anatomy

j
jandt_mcmurray
Sep 07, 2017

Violence: acts of torture performed by the Nazis

j
jandt_mcmurray
Sep 07, 2017

Coarse Language: profanity

Age

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jandt_mcmurray
Sep 07, 2017

jandt_mcmurray thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

t
taupe_skunk_4
Aug 27, 2016

taupe_skunk_4 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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