All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Pulitzer Prize Winner

all the light we cannot see by anthony doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives are forever changed by World War II. With its lyrical prose, intricate plot, and compelling characters, “All the Light We Cannot See” has become a beloved modern classic. In this review, we’ll explore the key elements of the book, including the plot, characters, writing style, themes, and more.

Plot Summary:

“All the Light We Cannot See” tells the story of Marie-Laure, a young girl who goes blind at the age of six and is raised by her father in Paris. When World War II breaks out, Marie-Laure and her father flee to the coastal town of Saint-Malo, where they must navigate the dangers of the war and the Nazi occupation. Meanwhile, in Germany, a young boy named Werner is recruited by the Nazi army and sent to track down members of the Resistance. The lives of Marie-Laure and Werner intersect in unexpected ways, leading to a powerful and unforgettable conclusion.


The characters in “All the Light We Cannot See” are complex and well-drawn. Marie-Laure is a brave and resilient protagonist who refuses to let her blindness define her. Werner is a conflicted character, torn between his loyalty to his country and his growing awareness of the atrocities being committed in the name of the Nazi regime. The supporting cast of characters, including Marie-Laure’s father and Werner’s sister Jutta, add depth and nuance to the story.

Writing Style:

Doerr’s writing style in “All the Light We Cannot See” is both beautiful and precise. The novel is filled with poetic descriptions of the natural world, as well as intricate details of the characters’ experiences. The use of short chapters and alternating perspectives keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, while also providing insights into the motivations and emotions of the characters.


“All the Light We Cannot See” explores themes of love, loss, and the power of human connection. The novel raises important questions about the nature of war and the impact it has on civilians and soldiers alike. The idea of the “light we cannot see” is a recurring motif in the novel, representing both the unseen forces that shape our lives and the hidden potential for goodness and compassion that exists in all of us.


The setting of “All the Light We Cannot See” is one of the most compelling aspects of the novel. Doerr’s descriptions of war-torn France and Germany are vivid and immersive, bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the time. The coastal town of Saint-Malo serves as a symbol of hope and resilience, as the characters fight to survive against all odds.

Pacing and Plot Twists:

The pacing of “All the Light We Cannot See” is well-structured, with the alternating perspectives and short chapters keeping the story moving forward. There are several plot twists and surprises throughout the novel, including the unexpected intersection of Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the story.

Critique and Analysis:

While “All the Light We Cannot See” is a powerful and moving novel, there are a few areas that could be critiqued. For example, some readers may find the novel to be overly sentimental or manipulative in its portrayal of the characters’ struggles. Additionally, the novel’s depiction of the Nazi characters as one-dimensional villains has been criticized by some as lacking in nuance. However, these criticisms do not detract from the overall impact of the novel, which remains a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience during wartime.

Recommendation and Rating:

Overall, “All the Light We Cannot See” is a breathtaking and deeply moving novel that is sure to resonate with readers. Doerr’s writing style and the intricate plot make for an engaging read, and the themes of the novel are both timely and timeless. This book is highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and anyone looking for a powerful and thought-provoking story. On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, “All the Light We Cannot See” earns a 5-star rating for its exceptional writing, compelling characters, and profound themes.


In conclusion, “All the Light We Cannot See” is a remarkable novel that tells a powerful and emotionally resonant story. The book’s vivid setting, complex characters, and lyrical prose make for an engaging and unforgettable read. While there are a few areas of the novel that could be critiqued, the overall impact of the book is profound and lasting. For anyone looking for a moving and thought-provoking work of historical fiction, “All the Light We Cannot See” is a must-read.

Leave a Comment