All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

War|History|Fiction|Heartfelt

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Book Review

All the Light We Cannot See is a book about the tragedies of war written by Anthony Doerr. The tone of the book is melancholic yet hopeful. It is centered around two protagonists, a six-year old French girl, Marie Laurie, and an eight-year old German boy, Werner Pfennig.

It is a deeply moving story where the author wonderfully captures the difficult circumstances of war and its effects on the people involved. This book is not about what happened during World War II, nor is it about Hitler or the Jews. This book is about how war affects the lives of ordinary people by uprooting them from their homes. It is about people who do not wish to participate in the war and have no choice but to bare the consequences of it. At the same time, it highlights the strength of humanity where we can live through unimaginable situations. In the end, we can always find a reason to live and survive.

All the Light We Cannot See is a fictional war novel about many things. It is about the strength of a blind girl that survives through war. A confused yet an intelligent orphan boy who loves to learn but is captured in a terrible period of war. A father, trying to do his best for his daughter. A sister who is worried that her brother will get influenced by Nazi ideologies. A soldier from World War I who loses his brother and is haunted by the ghosts of war. A friend who loses his life because he is considered too weak to serve the country. This book highlights how individual choices and freedom do not belong to you, but to your country. Only by serving the country, can you survive. Moments of weakness, betrayal, shock, horror, and hope are what makes this book so special and real.

“Wherever her great-uncle is, could he have survived this?
Could anyone?
Has she?”

“Walk the path of logic. Every outcome has its cause, and every predicament has its solution. Every key its lock.  You can go back to Paris or you can stay here or you can go on.”


*Spoiler Alert* Below is a detailed summary of the book which reveals some of the plot points.


Marie Laurie is a blind girl who loses her eyesight due to cataract at a very young age. She lives in Paris with her father, who loves her dearly and works at the Museum of National History. Her father builds a miniature version of the neighborhood for his daughter so she can navigate through the area independently when the need arises. Marie regularly accompanies her father to the museum and this is where she learns about a valuable blue diamond, the Sea of Flames, and its legendary curse. When the German army invades France, Marie Laurie and her father flee from Paris and arrive at Saint-Malo to live with her great uncle Etienne.

Meanwhile, Werner Pfennig lives in an orphanage with his sister Jutta in a town called Zollverein in Germany. He is a brilliant kid with an exceptional skill in fixing radios. His talents and expertise with electronics capture attention. Soon, Werner is presented with an opportunity to study in a specialized training school in Berlin. Werner with a hope for a better future and thirst for knowledge decides to attend the school by leaving behind his sister. Only upon his arrival, he realizes that the fears of his sister were right all along – the boarding school is a place that teaches Nazi values. All the while at the boarding school, Werner does everything that he is expected to do but deep inside he is guilty and knows that he has made a wrong decision.

While the city is being bombed and attacked, Marie Laurie holds onto hope and ends up saving Werner’s life with her radio broadcasts. In turn, Werner saves Marie who is trapped in her house with a German officer. This story is about their journey, experiences and how their lives intersect during war.

“He says, “You are very brave.” She lowers the bucket. “What is your name?” He tells her. She says, “When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” He says, “Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.”

The Stormlight Archive – Fangirl Alert!

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I held the third book of The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson and my hands trembled.

It has been a storming journey these past few months with The Way of Kings and The Words of Radiance. A significant part of me now belongs in the realm of the Shattered Plains with Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth, and Jasnah Kholin. There hasn’t been an idle moment in my regular life because even when I am not reading the books, I am thinking about Shardblades, Highstorms, Chasms, Sprens, Parshendi, and of course Kaladin! Sometimes absent-mindedly when I feel low on energy I take in a deep breath hoping I could suck in some stormlight to come alive.

What can we say about Sanderson’s mastery on Worldbuilding, this imaginary world is tremendous and fantastic. It seems more real to me than my everyday life! Yeah, like summoning a Shardblade in ten seconds, feeling overjoyed when Kaladin learns the Lashings and runs with the winds, or learning how highstorms can infuse dun spheres with stormlight, did not sound surprising to me they are totally believable, and of course the concepts blew my mind.

The personalities of the protagonists are so charismatic and powerful that no amount of praise or superlatives can do them justice. At times when I am sad or in pain, I remember the struggles of Kaladin and I instantly feel better. I seek him for strength and hope. I am a beginner at sketching but every time I sit down to sketch, I feel like Shallan. I would like to believe we have similar personalities, you see! When I come across dishonorable, immoral and sinful humans, I feel hopeful thinking honor might be dead but we still have Dalinar around. I might sound crazy, but this is the kind of influence the characters have upon me. I absolutely love them and adore them. They are mine – Kaladin, Shallan, Szeth, Dalinar, and Jasnah Kholin! ALL MINE, extra love for Kaladin tho.

Now, that I am proceeding on to the next book of the series, I experience an unexplainable fear and hesitation to start. I know that I will not be disappointed by the author but as a reader I hope I continue to be at my imaginary best to thoroughly be consumed by the third book of The Stormlight Archive – The Oathbringer!

I must be truly Stormblessed to have found this epic work of art, a real masterpiece! Thank you Brandon Sanderson! *_*

“Life before Death

Strength before Weakness

Journey before Destination”

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Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

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There are many self-help books and then there is this little gem of a book. Isn’t the title absolutely captivating? We all go through the phase of existential crisis at least once in our lifetime. We all wonder what is the purpose of our lives? While some of us, have it all figured out, there are some of us who still wonder what’s the true meaning of life? And, if we do not have a hand to guide us in the right direction, then the search never seems to end. I am thankful that I found this life-changing book at just the right time when I had no clue as to where I was heading in my life. I randomly picked this book during a bus journey while I was stuck in traffic and I am certain I couldn’t have picked a better book.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

In this book, Viktor E. Frankl also talks about the concept of Logotherapy which is based on existential analysis. He explains how one can always find a purpose in life even when the circumstances are miserable.

“For in every case man retains the freedom and the possibility of deciding for or against the influence of his surroundings.”

Man’s Search for Meaning, is one incredible book and is a must-read. This book can help us feel good about ourselves and appreciate life better. It teaches us how we need to be thankful of what we have and make the most of our freedom. In the end, what truly matters is for us to never give up on love and hope.