All the Light We Cannot See – Book Review

All the Light We Cannot See – Book Detail

All the Light We Cannot See : A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about 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


`Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

All the Light We Cannot See – Book Review

city of Saint-Malo

“In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo, the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France was almost destroyed by fire….Of the 865 buildings within the walls, only 182 remained standing and all were damaged to some degree.” -Philip Beck

Werner lives in an orphanage with his sister, Jutta. As mentioned before, Werner is exceptionally bright and seems to be a self-trained engineer. Useful assets for Nazi Germany. Hence, his talents in math and science won him a coveted spot in a Hitler Youth Academy. The reason he accepted the offer is to avoid the grim life of a coal miner, the job that kills his father. In a hindsight, his decision to join the academy is a terrible, terrible disaster.

Marie-Laure story meanwhile takes place in Paris. She is a shy, freckled redhead who was blind but intuitive, clever and for some reason loves to be outdoor. She wasn’t born blind but rather as a result of degenerative disease at the age of six. Her father, a locksmith, who works at a museum which kept the legendary jewel, the Sea of Flames. She memorized her way around the city by memorizing the path using her father miniature model of the city. Awesome father.

The brain is locked in total darkness of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

The Good Part of the book

✔ Awesome storyline

✔Great prose and wonderful quotes

✔ Beautifully written setting and character

The Not-So-Good Part of the book

✘ The timeline was not really observed. The story development from Marie-Laure and Werner’s perspective seems not to be in sync. Some might get lost.

✘ The ending is not a happy one. Typically I don’t read books with a d ending, but this time around, I wasn’t lucky.

✘Other than Marie-Laure and Werner, other characters were not fully developed.

Read my other fiction book review

Read All the Light We Cannot See


Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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