All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See Study Guide

All the Light We Cannot See was written by Anthony Doerr in 2014 and was published by Scribner. All the Light We Cannot See was Doerr's fifth novel.

The inspiration for the novel came when Doerr was on a trip with a friend whose cell phone broke. He realized how dependent the modern world had become on cell phones, and wanted to write a book in a world where radio had a tremendous amount of power and was the most prominent method of communication. Doerr chose Saint-Malo as a setting after spending some time there and realizing how magical everything in the town was—almost fairytale-like.

All the Light We Cannot See is set during World War II. It follows the stories of a blind French girl whose father works at a Natural History Museum, and of a young German orphan who joins the Nazis as a radio specialist. Their lives cross paths in the most unexpected way as they both struggle though the devastation of war. The novel deals heavily with the themes of light/dark, family loyalty, humanism, and fate.

The novel was both a critical and popular success, spending 118 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction. Reviewers lauded the book, calling it "[a] masterpiece"(Financial Times), "a vastly entertaining feat of storytelling" (New York Times) and "so emotionally plangent that some passages bring tears" (Amanda Vaill, Washington Post). It received numerous literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015, an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction in 2015, and the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction in 2014.