Review: All the Light We Cannot See


All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very pleasant and enjoyable, what I believe people refer to as “a perfect beach read.” I am perplexed why it won the Pulitzer though. When I first heard that Doerr had won this prestigious American prize, I was excited like everybody else. The Shell Collector had, only weeks before, become one of my all time favorite books. I also read About Grace and thought, ok, not bad for a first novel, so he’s more of a short story guy. I was really looking forward to being blown away by All the Light You Cannot See. Well I have to get my eyes checked because I did not see the light. The book was, for me, on par with About Grace: wistful, entertaining, charming, flat.

However! I must praise the author for a very obvious love of nature and science. As in his other books, he makes plain by his references to light, shells, radio, and tides his deep and abiding love for all things nature. The main character hails from Paris’s Natural History Museum, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is incorporated into the plot, and the author acknowledges Richard Feynman in the afterward. All geek flags are flying, and a fellow geek can readily recognize them. I also appreciate the telling of a personal World War II story about kids coming of age on both sides of the conflict without an overt Hollywood-style good & evil theme.

I continue looking forward to reading Memory Wall and Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World, but I have to say, if you like this author, The Shell Collector remains by far his best book, Pulitzer or no.

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Victor A. Davis has always loved reading and writing short stories. He is an avid hiker and even when away from the world of laptops and wifi, keeps a pocket paperback and a handwritten journal to keep him company on trail. He is the author of two short story collections, Grains of Sand and The Gingerbread Collection. Join his Mailing List for special announcements about upcoming works.