“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

all the lightIn agreement with most critics, bestseller lists, and the judges of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the Brown Baggers thoroughly enjoyed Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. It can be difficult sometimes to discuss literature we love without just parroting favorite parts, but the Brown Baggers still had a rich discussion full of insight about this novel.

As the group often does, we started our discussion with some background information about the author as well as a recap of the critical response. As mentioned above, the book was well received across the board but was not without some detractors. One review from the New Republic labeled it a “sentimental mess.” While the Brown Baggers were mostly effusive in their praise of the novel, this harsher review served as a springboard to discuss some of the weaker points of the story. A few readers agreed and thought that if not actually sentimental, the plot was at least a bit contrived. Others agreed and said they felt the ending tied up a little too neatly and numerous coincidences meant readers frequently had to suspend belief.

Overall, though, the Brown Baggers praised the original story and beautiful language of Doerr’s writing. The unique view of Hitler Youth from an (unwilling) German perspective, the charming details of Marie-Laure’s life in Paris and St. Malo, and Jutta’s strong moral core all contributed to a book that resonated deeply with so many.

More Information: 

Check out other books by Anthony Doerr in the JMRL catalog.

Read more about Doerr’s Pulitzer win on the official website.

Visit Scribner Magazine to learn more about Saint-Malo and watch a book trailer featuring the author.

Read reviews from the New York Times and the Washington Post or an interview with the Guardian.

Looking for a readalike? Try one of these titles or ask for a recommendation through JMRL’s What Do I Read Next? service.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Children and Fire by Ursula Hegi
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Every December, the Brown Baggers gather to choose the next set of titles for discussion. Come join us on December 17 at noon for a spirited debate over which titles to choose. Feel free to bring a treat to share or just a reading suggestion! Check the JMRL wiki to see what we’ve read in the past and the next few books on the schedule.

If you want to get started on January’s pick, we’ll be reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and meeting to discuss Thursday, January 21 at noon.

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