Hauntingly Blinded by Time

Melanie Volz

A network of characters and perspectives is at the center of Anthony Doerr’s novel, All the Light We Cannot See. Set during World War II, the novel revolves around the stories of a blind french girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German boy, Werner. Both undergo heroic journeys that are forced upon them by the war. As children, they bear witness to a number of atrocities, but find their strength and humanity amongst the chaos of war.

Follow Marie-Laure and her father through their exodus of Paris to the great-walled city of Saint-Malo. With them, they carry a jewel that is invaluable in many aspects, but also holds a curse of pain and immortality. 

Accompany Werner as he strives to leave his humble coal town, Essen. He becomes enchanted by a small radio, and his intelligence takes flight as he surrounds himself with mathematics and science. After rigorous testing, he gained his ticket to the National Political Institute of Education at Schulpforta. However, will this prospect of a better future lead to his demise? 

All the Light We Cannot See encapsulates these stories in short chapters and flashbacks brimming with beautiful metaphors and symbols. By warping time, Doerr shows the relationship between our physical and transcendental worlds. The haunting novel leaves the reader with an important message: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”