Back to articles

“All The Light We Cannot See” – Eclectic Book Summary

March 10, 2020

“All the Light We Cannot See” is a historical fiction novel authored by Anthony Doerr, an American author. The whimsical and twisted story draws its inspiration from the happenings of World War II. It follows a brief and classic chapter structure about what it is to be human and the potentiality of technology.

All The Light We Cannot See Summary

The novel has scooped multiple awards, including the most prestigious Pulitzer Award. It is also top on the New York Times best-selling books with many eyes craving to have a feast of it.

All The Light We Cannot See Book Summary

So, what’s this book all about in a nutshell?

Here is a tip of the iceberg, the novel revolves around two main characters, a German boy and a French girl. In the swamp of World War II aftermath, the two meet in France, and the rest is a beautiful, mind-blowing story that will melt your heart away. The tale of these two characters and their experiences is a true reflection of our modern society.

An “All the Light We Cannot See” synopsis would go a long way in helping you get the bigger picture of the story. You can be sure of gaining and discovering deep wisdom from this exhaustive book summary.

Are you ready for it?

Well, here is the much-awaited summary of “All the Light We Cannot See” novel.

Part 1: Before the War Childhood

We are introduced to the background story of Marie-Laure and Werner together with their families. Marie-Laure is a French girl living in Paris with her father, who works in the Museum of Natural History as a locksmith. However, this beautiful young lady develops cataracts and eventually gets blind.

Marie’s father goes out of his way to help her by acquiring her some braille written Jules Verne adventure novels. He improvises a way to help her move around the neighborhood comfortably despite her condition. He does this by making her a model of it out of wood.

With time, Laure’s father is given the Sea of Flames, a valuable diamond, by the museum. They, therefore, travel to German to take it to a friend of the museum.

Meanwhile, Werner is raised in an orphanage together with his sister in Zollverein, Germany. Werner’s aptness in mechanics and science proves to be his gold mine despite the environment in which he is raised, the orphanage.

On one occasion, the apt lad, Werner, comes across a non-functioning radio. With his outstanding ability, he fixes it, and together with his sister, they use it for listening to educational programs. His dream is to become a scientist. It is, however, hampered by the orphanage’s decision that he would go to a coal mine instead. Luckily, he repairs a Nazi official’s radio and secures a chance at Nazi school in Schulpforta.

Part 2: Change of Residences as the War Starts

Unfortunately, the friend of the museum whom Marie and the father are supposed to visit flees to London. They, therefore, opt to go to their uncle’s home in Saint-Malo and stay there. Marie’s father again builds her a model of the place and hides the diamond inside the model of Etienne’s house.

As the war temperatures start rising, the Germans start taking away and destroying radios. However, Etienne, Marie’s uncle, hides one. The unexpected turn of events happens when Marie’s father starts his journey back to the museum. He is arrested and imprisoned in Germany.

Werner, on the other side, is forced to cope with the harsh environment at the Nazi school. He gets a friend, Frederick, who receives punishment later on for his refusal to murder an enemy prisoner. The discipline, comprised of a severe beating, leaves him almost dead. He succumbs to brain damage from the blow and therefore sent home. Dr. Hauptmann, a science teacher, recognizes Werner’s intelligence and thus gives him training on using trigonometry in calculating a radio broadcast’s location.

Part 3. Participation in the War

The wars gain momentum, and the civilians begin to join in the fight. One of these is Etienne’s housekeeper, who mobilizes a group of women to fight against the Nazis. She seeks the help of Etienne, but he declines, and she later dies out of a pneumonia attack.

Marie and her uncle join efforts and carry on Madame Manec’s resistance. The resistance efforts lead to the arrest of Etienne.

Through Dr. Hauptmann’s lie, Werner gets into the military. Werner’s team in the military is mandated to track and kill German radio broadcasters. In his line of duty, he meets Marie and falls for her.

Part 4. Bombing of Saint-Malo

The attacks on Saint-Malo by the Allies forces Werner to take shelter in a hotel basement. Werner and his leader get trapped inside the basement as the hotel is bombed and collapses. Marie, on the other side, is hiding in her Uncle Etienne’s cellar. The German’s are in hot pursuit of the Sea of Flames.

Days later, Marie alerts Werner that she is in danger through the repaired radio broadcast. She is rescued and hides the diamond in an ocean cave then helped to leave the city. Sadly, Werner later dies by an explosion in a minefield.

Part 5: The Aftermath

Marie and Etienne move to France, where she begins school. The ending has Marie going to a park and reflecting on her experiences.

The Story Explained

From the “All the Light we cannot see” analysis above, we can see an incredible work of art by Anthony Doerr. It can be read time and again, for all seasons and occasions.

Do you need writing help on how to craft such a book summary? Our expert writers are ready to help.

Take a break from writing.

Top academic experts are here for you.

do my paper