All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

Written by:
Anthony Doerr
Narrated by:
Zach Appelman

Unabridged Audiobook

Ratings
Book
2007
Narrator
191
Release Date
May 2014
Duration
16 hours 2 minutes
Summary
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.

*Soon to be a Netflix limited series from the producers of Stranger Things*

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).
Reviews
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Gina W

Best book I have ever read or listened too. And the narrator was superb at the reading. Brought me to tears..... I couldn't stop listening . My heart ached for the characters???? I was very much moved by a war I have known little of before now. Such an atrocity to humanity !

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Rebecca V

Beautiful writing that makes your heart ache for the characters.

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Heather L

This book was such an amazingly wound tale about the war from two very different view points. It gives a bit of insight into the Reich machine, as well as the brain washing that could occur amidst poor orphan children who had nothing to look forward to and nothing to lose.

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Virginia N

The narrative is so beautiful that it makes me want to read the book

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Gwen C

Truly an escape in time captured by great story telling. The narrator created the characters persona, highlighting the writers intended distinction and texture. The chapters drift into the crevices of history, love, art. A joy in the journey for the audience.

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adam croce

Interesting, but not captivating. A story of a blind girl finding her way through war torn France. The writing is great, but wasn't a page turner.

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Dawn Copley

This book is by far the most illuminating book I have read by far in such a incredibly long time ! This book reminded me about the millions of definitions for using the word " LIGHT " ! I am quite fond of that word now more so than when I was a bored and curious little girl in search of anything and everything to occupy my thoughts that were constantly driven by questions from the moment I awakened until I would finally collapse into a sleep and begin an active dream life along with the Man in the Moon , the stars , and the sheep and cows jumping around throughout the sky while the fairies were playing in the woodlands and streams and maybe in my room at night. Hopping out of bed , little Dawn , was just as the curious and bright Mara Laurie waking to excitement of noise and smells and sensations each day that taught her new emotions and knowledge to continue to live and prosper. . This lovely story was not just about the sadness of lives living among the horrific times of WWII with sadness in life all around . This book focused instead upon the Light inside each soul that lived each day to the fullest in their present and proudest trying to do the right things by what they felt was their purpose set forth before them as best they could see until they could not see the light pulling them in another direction again. No matter how hard we try to live our lives in our control , in the end only the Light of God for sure knows where we will be in the end . I found this a lovely story that I know I will return to again to visit and learn from the rich experiences of such incredible creatures that were in this book during such hard times . They made the best of their lives with the gifts I do not think they realized they held inside . Thank You Anthony Doerr, Dawn Copley

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Allison Baboolal

Boring read. I had to go back multiple times because my mind would start to wander since it was not very interesting.

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Natalie Murdoch

This was one of the most boring books I have ever read! I forced myself to finish it, but it was difficult. The story was good, I guess the writing style and the narration were just not my cup of tea! I am happy to have this book behind me!

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Gina McHugh

Zach Appelman is an incredible reader. I LOVED this book. Powerful writing and left me with a renewed energy for life, relationships and how precious each moment is.

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Christina C.

One of the greatest novels of the last century-- an intricate plot-line, intimately realized characters, and language that is as lyrical, alliterative, and gorgeous as any poem. An astounding literary feat.

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Heather M.

Beautiful Book. Two different stories in the same war. Beautifully intertwined....

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Sabra G

I enjoyed it. The story's time-jumping does make it hard to follow, but also an interesting perspective.

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Luke T

I've always loved WWII era stories, but this novel told the story in a new "light," if you will. Mr. Appelman personifies flawlessly the different characters. As a French speaker, I was very impressed with his prononciation, as well as the author's incorporation of the language. The two stories parallel each other in a way that is easy to follow, and doesn't seem forced at all once they merge. I highly recommend!!

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Karey C

A good read. I was in tears for the children in the story.

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Sarah Pardue

Beautifully written. When it came to an end I was so sad it was over and felt I knew each character and felt their pain.

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Laura Wendon

This book has two beautiful yet heart breaking stories intertwine and then collide completely. One of the best stories I've ever known.

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Stefanie Mathews

This was one of the best books I have listened to that is set during World War II. I listen to lots of audiobooks & the narrator did an outstanding job!

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Barsha Martin

This is a great book with amazing characters. The narrator makes it even better!

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Sandra Gaia-Rae

A heart warming story filled with intrigue and well developed interesting brave people. I enjoyed learning the history from a diet perspective. Sandra

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Joanna Mooney

A really, really good read. Worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.

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Patti Holmes

Loved everything about this book, including the narrator. Beautifully told.

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Liza

Wow!!! This book deserves the Pulitzer prize it got so much. It is a beautiful prose, a compelling touching story, told from different points of view. The genius young German orphan, the amazing young French blind girl and her faithful father, the strange haunted uncle, and the way all of their lives link together in a thread. The war is always there, terrible WWII, sometimes in the background and sometimes just in front of you. The Hitler Youth is shown from Werner's eyes, with all its cruelty, but also with pain and compassion, and mostly with the fact that this is how life looked like, no questions asked sometimes, and questions asked some other times. All the Light We Cannot See is haunting, amazing and impossible to stop reading. And after reading the book, the reader finds out how the title actually has several meanings, in the book and in our lives.

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Alonzo Kescoli

Lets see, it's 5:39 am and I just finished this great book. It took me awhile, a few weeks, but worth it. The narrator wasn't perfect, but that's just me nit-picking. I loved the two main characters, both coming of age stories were perfectly written. Their journeys were amazing, both were different, but bound together by strength and tenacity. Loved it!

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Jenifer Gardner

Loved this book. The characters stay with you even after you finish. I will not soon forget them and their challenges. The author paints a detailed portrait of every setting.

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sue levin

A different way to read about such a tragic time in history through another perspective that we don't always think of. It is important to know who these people were and what they did during the war and the author brought their stories to life.

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Cynthia Brannon

Another WW2 book? DON"T deny yourself the immense pleasure you will feel while reading this very special book. I am a hardcore reader and this in one of my all time favorites. It has gorgeously developed characters that are complex and fascinating. By the end, I knew and understood each of them (and even missed a few in the days after finishing) The story embraces you and pulls you into a horrible time in human history but never do you feel manipulated or like the story has been 'wrapped up with a pretty bow'. The author has a rare gift with which he paint reality altering points of view that I found stunning and illuminating. He is a scientist/poet. Give yourself this gift!

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Elizabeth Fanini

This book was absolutely wonderful! The writer contrives such beautifully vivid descriptions, and the narrator does a great job with the slow build and communicating each nervous tension and emotion. Loved it!

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Shannon Elder

This was without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. So beautifully written and thought-provoking. I was sad when it had to end! If you liked the book "City of Thieves" this one is equally as good.

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Jenny Morris

Excellent novel. Because of the extensive, and fascinating character development, and the vivid imagery, I felt as if I had time traveled into the years of WWII. This book was compelling and dramatic, as it gently and gradually lead the reader into the harshness, darkness and suffering of the European continent during WWII. Yet the reader is not exploited by war horrors, because the essential center of the story is kindness, love, and compassion, and these higher human qualities persevere even during the bleakest years of the war. The narrator did an excellent job in his reading of the novel. I highly recommend this book!

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Keith Estes

Great read and the narration is excellent, I look for the listening to more,from this author.

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Tracy Allen

This was my first audio book and I'm so glad hat it was All The Light We Cannot See. The narrator let the book build the story and became a part of the book so that I forgot that I wasn't actually reading it myself. I looked forward to getting back into the book each day. I felt like an on-looker to a wonderful story. This will not be my last audio book.

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Gregory Monokian

A truly great book that, although an historical novel, has a timeless almost dreamy quality amidst the horrors of war. It grabbed me from the first page and did not let me go till the last when I was sorry to see it end. Destined to become a classic.

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Courtney Tyler

The book is well written but the storyline is very anti-climatic. We kept listening hoping it would get more interesting but throughout the book there was no real peak that kept us wanting more. The narrator has a nice calming voice and was very easy to listen to.

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K S.

Loved this book….

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Judy P.

Another that I really wanted to like. I kept getting lost until the end. It was a very good book but just not for me.

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Valerie G.

Really enjoyed this great read. It takes the reader through a range of emotions and experiences. Even months after reading I think about this story. I have both read the paperback and listened to the audio book, narrator does an excellent job and is very easy to listen to.

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Stacey B.

This books is everything, it draws you in so deeply and touches your heart. The story and characters will stay with me for a very long time. I am looking forward to seeing how it will play out on screen.

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JessDance

It was interesting but slow

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Ann P.

A sad and beautiful story. A bit wordy at the start, but stay with it. You will admire the author’s vivid imagination and amazing attention to detail.

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Dessirae M.

Such a great listen, the story was beautiful and and heartbreaking, I would absolutely listen again.

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Tiffany H.

Gentle, sweet, stirring, poignant, deeply real. So worth the time.

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Marchell I.

Wonderful story,

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Alan R.

The story was great, but a lot of rambling in my opinion, narration was incredible, but that was the whole book, not one of my favorites.

I enjoyed this read. The narrator dies a great job of jumping back and forth between story lines. recommend!

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Diana K.

This is one of the best books I have ever read.

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Dietmar B.

A beautiful book with uncommon depth. I wanted to punish him for the flat ending, with 4 stars, but it is just too good.

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Emily B.

great book

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Lisa H.

Best historical fiction that I have ever read.

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Misty E.

loved this book

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Anonymous

Beautifully written and read.

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Julaine L.

The story was good but the narrator was terrible. Just a monotone presentation.

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Michael Gallant

Very engaging, totally enjoyable story.

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Lenora S.

Takes a long time to get to the heart of the story. Telling the story with flashbacks and flash forwards was confusing.

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Elizabeth L.

Stunning. I was blown away. Narration was excellent as well. I saw Netflix is producing it as a limited series. Don’t see how they could do it justice!

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Anonymous

Amazing. I had never heard of it but I saw it had great great reviews so I blindly went for it and it PAID OFF. incredible. I learned so much, I LAUGHED, I definitely cried. Yeah….what a killer.

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Jose victor G.

This is a tough one ... !!! humanizing German society and soldiers under orders by Hitler is gotta be almost impossible ... one might think ... yet the author managed to do just that ... by the end . Thru-out the novel I was telling myself ... nah!!! i hate them and everything they stood for ... and in the end i almost felt sorry for them, their families and their situation ... but not as sorry as I felt for the french side of the event ... this is a side of "Hitler youth" I've never really even thought or knew about ... they were literal sheep sent to slaughter ... not very different as in any other war I guess .. :( great book ... glad i listened to it ...

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Diane C.

Excellent book! A must read/hear!

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Sherry M.

Such a moving novel with wonderful characters that the author sweetly and carefully developed until they felt like a friend or family member. I felt every emotion as the story wound it’s way to the conclusion. I loved every word!

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Anonymous

Doerr weaves sentences magically.

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Anonymous

it's a story of how significant and life changing a small action or inaction can become. Beautifully written and thought-provoking tale.

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Sandy B.

This book was hard to follow. Jumped around a lot. The narrator did a good Job but I personally didn't enjoy it that much, except for some insight from WW2 that I had never considered.

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Yvonne F.

Story is captivating. I wished for a better more hopeful ending.

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Barbara S.

Wonderful listen. Heartwarming and at times heart rendering. If you enjoy animals, an enriching experience.

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Dal C.

As a partially blind, I liked this very much. The author did quite a good job with Marie Laure's character. A tad exaggerated at times, but nothing to ruin the story. I can recommend it. I really liked the non-chronological narrative and the inclusion of the radio transmissions technology of the times. All in all this was very entertaining.

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Natalie B.

This is a good book for an attentive listener that enjoys the building of human relationships. Offering perspective on the choices we make in our lives and how those choices impact the people of our world.

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Kimberly P.

This is a wonderful story. I really enjoyed every minute

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Hailey Moen

The book was completely awful! I mean yeah sure there was a couple good parts. I don't understand how it was Pulitzer Prize. It didn't make me shed a tear but it did put me to sleep. You know that's bad because I love books. The last book to do that was To Kill A Mockingbird.

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Christine H.

Wonderful story.

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Tonya Anderson McKelly

Too long and not too the point.

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Anonymous

a beautiful sad happy intense story. I read it before listening and will probably do both again.

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Berva Lorraine H.

Beautifully written and narration was terrific. It held my attention throughout.

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Gretchen O.

Actual book and writing? A masterpiece. I love everything about it. Narrator? Phenomenal 90% of the time. The other 10%? Not so much. Occasionally he would say something different than what's in the actual book (I best comprehend by reading the physical book and listening to the audiobook at the same time). Whether it be him flipping two words in a phrase, says a different number (like age or a number Etienne would read off on his transmitter), etc. And what he said almost always made sense, grammatically and plot wise, but they didn't seem necessary. Why change what was written by the author? But then there were times when it seemed like a really dumb and amateur mistake, like forgetting a word in a sentence. Just seemed really word to me. But otherwise he was great. The tone and volume of his voice for narrating vs different characters was amazing. He's really great at narrating, just not always reading exactly what's on the page.

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Kathleen F.

I loved this book. The author did a wonderful job weaving all the characters into one story. The narrator did a great job with all the languages and accents . I would gladly listen to a book read by him again!

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Lydia C.

So beautifully written. I loved all the different characters viewpoints. Incredibly moving story!

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Tara R.

Story was superb ~ transitioning between characters and time periods was not. Loved the characters and identified with their feeling/emotions so much. A truthful and difficult embracing of this horrendous conflict. Very - well - done.

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Cyn K.

The narrator's ability to speak several languages was lovely. Doerr's prose is stunning and I wanted to cling to some of his sentences. The story was compelling and kept me in its grip. I found the ending wasn't as satisfying for me as the the meat of the book but would still highly recommend.

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Sharon H.

This book was not my favourite. It never got my attention and dragged on.

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William E.

Loved the book, and the narrative could not have been better.

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Raili F.

A "page-turner"! I couldn't wait until I had time to listen each day.

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Anonymous

I had very very high expectations about this book. But I found myself more than once not being into the story line. It wasn’t until close to the end did the story became interesting and characters more engaging. Am I the only one who finds the sea of flames not really relevant? With that being said, this is a book needs to be read, not listened to, at least not with this narrator. His delivery was flat, uninspired at best. The way the story was written requires actual physical reading, or at least with great a narrator, like Julia Whelan, Cassandra Campbell or Simon Vance.

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Carol M.

Interesting story with characters I developed an early interest in. From beginning to end I was intrigued about which direction the lives of the characters would take. As for the narration, it was very good although it took some getting used to after the superb narration of Davina Porter whom I consider the best I ever heard.

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Layne M.

Now a days you read so many articles and books, and you forget how important and amazing a story can be until you hear/ read one written by a true master. Amazing book, beautifully written and wounderfully read

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Anonymous

A beautiful book about a horrible time and the goodness thar can be found in unlikely places.

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Daniel V.

Metaphors, similes, this book is full of them. Descriptive prose that is jubilant and at times gaunt, but always picture inducing. Doerr is a great writer; tying up loose ends, not forgetting nuanced messages and oblique references. He paints a rich picture of the times. Sometimes he bounces from one period to the next and leaves the reader or listener to figure out where he lands, but overall, a great experience. I rarely read fiction. This was worth it. Nice job.

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Janet G.

What an amazing story! Not every book has something important to say. This one did.

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nab6215

Wow. Read the book while keeping the title in mind and you will appreciate it all the more. Sometimes you may have to reread a short chapter or two to make sure you've got things right. Some things you may never know for sure, which makes this an excellent book for discussion. I loved it.

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Jessica C

This may be one of my most favorite books. The author truly worked magic into each character and each character's story making the book multidimensional yet not overwhelming. I also really appreciated how historical references were perfectly interwoven without it becoming a typical predictable war novel. I truly love this book!

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Serena G

Wonderful story, I really enjoyed it.

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Karin S

Great story and I loved the narrator. Well worth the listen!

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judith molloy

Interesting story about the experiences of several people during WW11. Despite their adversities, they chose a path of light. In my opinion, it is not a page turner.

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Rebekah Rahman

Didn't care for the ending but otherwise an interesting read.

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Ting Waymouth

Nicely read and nicely written. Occasionally hard to follow when listening to the audiobook while driving, only because the plot isn't always linear and could get somewhat complex. I felt as though the book got even better as it went along. I do recommend it!

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Karen Jacobson

Thank you to Anthony Doerr for this magical story in a dreadful time and place. His writing is magical in its descriptions and character development. I did not want it to end and it's a story that will stay with me forever. The narrator is excellent, using English, French, German and Russian throughout with the appropriate accents. A pure delight!

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Kelli Hansen

I thought the book had a great plot, but I wish I would have read it in a hard copy. This story jumps all over the place and it was really hard to follow with audio.

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Ayela Mujeeb

One of the most beautifully written books I've read in a long time. I've recommended it to at least 5 people. At first I found the narrator monotone but gradually began to like his voice.

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Jodie Bowman

Really enjoyed the story. It kept my interest throughout the whole length of the book. Would definitely recommend it to others.

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Neil Rosenberg

Characters well developed, great story line and closure at the end. It's worth the time to look a map and get a sense of place to fully appreciate the story and associated history. Highly recommend it.

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Chanler Jones

Full of interesting characters and story lines.

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Kerrianne Wilson

I enjoyed this book and it was a great story. The narration was a little bland for my taste, I found myself getting distracted from the story during my commute because he just wasn't holding my attention. It was a little difficult for me to follow the timeline jumping back and forth while listening - I think it would have been easier if I was physically reading the book.

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Edythe Westbrook

Sweet, sad, beautiful read. Worth every moment. Also felt like I have a different take on this part of history.

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Nancy Colborne

The hardships of human history really makes you understand our freedoms

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Priscilla Saavedra

Beautiful story. Narrator made me feel like I was part of the story. Loved it.

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Carol Ernst

I like each word in this novel. It isn't wordy or boring or unnecessarily long. A beautiful. story.

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Kate Buckley

Beautiful book that is very well read by the narrator.

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Max Morgan

Slow start but very moving story. Always love insight into the everyday life of europeans during wwII

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Brenda Gauthey

I really enjoyed the book...great character development. The author really painted a realistic picture...I could hear the artillery and smell the ocean!

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Jackie Dunn

Excellent book, great narrator. I really enjoyed it!

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Sharon Flaman

Good book! A little hard to follow at first and a bit monotone but the narrator did a great job near the middle to end of the book with the characters and plot.

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Amie Clarke

This is an amazing book. I wasn't thrilled with the narrator, but I didn enjoy the story and was sad to hear it end.

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Brittany Pearce

Cannot seem to get into this book. Narrator very monotone.

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Jessica Bonar

Wonderful book. Well written perspectives. I thought it was made exceptionally unique to experience the world through the descriptors of a blind girl. Very enjoyable, even through the challenges of a world war.

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Caroline Ryan

I actually didn't find this book the best to listen to, I think reading it would've been a better experience. I just found that it was hard to follow at times, however that in no way takes away from the book itself...just my experience.

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Andrea Ferguson

One of the best books that I have "read" in some time. The narrator was excellent and the book was written beautifully. I really looked forward to getting back to it each day, and to hearing how the story would unfold. Listening to this book with audiobooks, heightened the experience, I am sure.

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Laura Hurst

One of the best books I read read in quite some time. I loved the descriptions of the characters and I felt a connection to each of them as they struggled to survive WW ll. LLHurst

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Marcus Oksa

This is one of the most intense and moving stories I have ever heard. Over the past 2+ years I have listened to over 60 books, and this was the best so far!

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Melanie Sanders

After seeing so many people on the train read this book and seeing the reviews and ratings, I decided I would listen to this one. While it was beautifully written, it left me wanting. I was waiting for an adventure or love story or at least the realities of war. But like a previous review said , it was anti-climatic. I wish the narrator would have translated all of the German and French words used. The story did seem to drag on but it never seemed to reach its destination. I was very disappointed with the development of all the characters, especially Von Rumple and Jutta. It seemed like the author forgot to develop their story line and rushed it in the end. To be fair, I was comparing this book to The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. The Nightingale was EXCELLENT. That author brought me in to the story. With All the Light, I felt like I was watching an avant garde movie that wouldn't let me in.Read it for yourself but don't be surprised if it leaves you wanting.

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adrienne Osbourne

Loved this!! Well worth the listen! Fascinating details of everyday life during a world war - great depth of characters. Loved the pace of the story- narrator was very good.

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Mary Christina

I absolutely loved this story. Being a history junkie, I think the author did extensive research and the story flowed perfectly. I hope it becomes a film!

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Lynn Webber

I enjoyed the book greatly. The sadness that war brings .

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Nichole Wulf

Great book! There were days I wanted to get in the car and drive just so I could hear the book. The last few trips home have been sad without it.

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Linda Belden

Phenomenal book! Great story that managed to present a different light on a horrible time in history. The characters were well developed and left me feeling so positive about always doing the right thing and to stick to my moral compass and always treating people with kindness. I did not want this story to end!

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Deborah Cooper

This was one of the best books I've 'read' in a long time. I was so sorry for it to end! What a beautiful story and narrated so well. Each character was so vivid and I loved the way the story wove back and forth and then intertwined. Masterful and beautifully written.

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Kim Brady

Narrator took a little getting use to. He did seem a bit monotonous in the beginning, but as the story developed, so did his interpretation. The book itself starts slowly but builds momentum and becomes absolutely gripping towards the last quarter. Worth every minute!!

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Monica Saylors

Beautiful story of world war 2 told from a different perspective.

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Sally More

I will read almost anything that this narrator, Zach Appelman, reads. Having suffered through a good book with an awful reader just prior to this one, this was such a breath of fresh air. And I loved the way the suspense built and the use of the present and past hurtling together to the conclusion was masterful and easy to follow. The character development was outstanding. Great book!

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Amy Aro

One of the best books I've ever read/listened to.

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Gregory Twiss

This book was an amazing experience. Suspenseful with many different characters, yet very easy to follow.

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Tim Donnelly

Good book but at times it tends to drag on and rehash thing . If you like an adventure you will not be disappointed

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Michelle Hagen

I could not get into it, sorry. The narrator's voice was a flat liner, and spoke too slowly for my taste.

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Susan Hileman

I thought that this was a well written piece of historical fiction. It kept my attention throughout, which is a credit to both writer and narrator. Beautiful descriptions and details that helped me create the setting in my mind's eye.

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Nelly Navarro-Britt

This book is historical fiction. It's about a French girl & a German boy in WWII. I thought both the story & the narrator were good. I didn't like that it went back & forth in time b/c that's hard to follow when you're listening vs reading. I read reviews that people didn't like the narrator's accent when he spoke French. Unfortunately I don't speak French so it didn't bother me, of course. I do speak Spanish & it doesn't bother me when narrator's have accents in those books (like in Waiting to Die in Havana book).

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April Ringnalda

Beautifully written story that kept me captivated throughout. And the denouement was sadly, but pleasantly realistic, not a typical Hollywood ending. It is poetic from start to finish, and there are still lines from the book that come back and play in my head. One of the best most enjoyable books I've read this year.

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
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This title is due for release on May 6, 2014
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