Each chapter of the book, which is set during World War II, contains a snippet of the life of either Marie-Laure LeBlanc or Werner Pfennig. Marie-Laure is an inquisitive, blind girl living with her father, a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Werner, is an orphaned boy who resides in a children's home in Germany. He is obsessed with radios and has dreams of being a scientist.
This book is not a light read. The story presents the horrors of war and the brutal effects of it on the innocent people who are consumed by it. The topics are heavy and include cruelty, torture, and dishonesty. But, at the same time, Doerr describes the goodness and beauty that can rise above the ugliness in the world.