This epic tale of WWII culminating in the battle for Saint-Malo focuses on two unusual characters. Marie Laure is the blind daughter of the keeper of the keys for the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Werner is an exceptionally bright German orphan with a natural talent for science, in particular radios (a very helpful trait during wartime).
Marie Laure’s father constructs a model city of their neighborhood, every storm drain, doorway, and tree represented, to help his daughter feel her surroundings. Rumors of war become reality, German soldiers taking over France. Marie Laure and her father make a perilous journey, retreating to the home of their uncle in Saint-Malo.
Werner and his sister Jutta grow up in an orphanage. Werner’s ability to fix just about everything electronic, and his amazing ability with radios, soon comes to the attention of the German hierarchy, earning him a place in a prestigious school. Werner wants only to learn, to do something important with that knowledge, to be more than a poor orphan. He is seduced by the rare opportunity of attending the academy. As he tries to fit in, he finds himself a party to actions beyond his control that taint his soul. His sister Jutta is an early dissenter of the Third Reich. She listens to forbidden radio programs, learns of the atrocities being committed, and is appalled.
Werner and Marie Laure’s stories will converge in a way neither could have anticipated. I liked the way the story is told through the view so these two main protagonists. Werner is a likeable kid, bright and eager. The way the Nazi regime subsumes his good nature, is chilling. Marie Laure is an intrepid girl, forced by circumstances to bravery. This is an innovative, thought provoking, deeply moving way to tell the story of WWII.— Deon Stonehouse
May 2014 Indie Next List
“The French girl cannot see, but she can hear, feel, and explore the world around her like a budding naturalist. The German boy has no parents, but he teaches himself how coils of copper can receive lessons of love and learning. It's World War II, however, and the potential of thousands of children will be unrealized or thwarted. Will a mythical gemstone save them or unite them? Gorgeously written, Doerr's epic tale brings alive the beauty of two souls, their quest for learning, the turbulent times they cannot control, and the rock that mysteriously guides their fate.”
— Harriett Logan, Loganberry Books, Shaker Hts, OH
Winner of the 2015 Audie Award for Fiction
*Winner of the Pulitzer Prize* A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book* A National Book Award finalist *
From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller 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.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).
About the Author
Anthony Doerr is the author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Alex Award, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.