All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Mommy and Me Book Club)

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my thoughts on the previous book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

Title:  All the Light We Cannot See

Author:  Anthony Doerr

Page No.:  544 pages

Publisher:  Scribner

Price: $13.60 (paperback)

Genres:  fiction; historical fiction, WWII

Summary:

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful 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). (From Goodreads)

Quotable Quotes:

On Becoming

“Why else do any of this if not to become who we want to be?”

Dreamy Radio Voices

“His voice is low and soft, a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out only on rare occasions, just to feel it between your fingers.”

On Freckles (And Learning to Love Them)

“Madame? What do I look like?”
“You have many thousands of freckles.”
“Papa used to say they were like stars in heaven. Like apples in a tree.”

On God

“But God is only a white cold eye, a quarter-moon poised above the smoke, blinking, blinking, as the city is gradually pounded to dust.

On the Human Brain

“What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models… None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.

On Indifference

“German sailors sing a drunken song in the street, and a house spider over the stove spins a new web every night, and to Marie-Laure this is a double cruelty: that everything else keeps living, that the spinning earth does not pause for even an instant in its trip around the sun.”

On Life and Death

“Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”

On Parenthood

“There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing.”

On Progress

“Calm yourself…one centimeter at a time.”

On Resilience

“We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.”

On Time

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

“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.”

Worth Staying Up Late For (after the kids have gone to bed?): 

  • Yes, Stay Up Late!
  • Maybe, But See What’s on TV First.
  • No, Go to Bed!

There are thousands of fiction books written about World War II, but this one has something unique to say. It’s worth your time. I especially like how our protagonists, Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig, are children who grow up before our very eyes. You will ponder the importance of raising your little ones to be resilient, resolute little whelks (Marie Laure’s French Resistance code name).

How do we raise our children to do the right thing?

We try, that’s how.

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