I am not going to give a synopsis of this book. This post is not a review, but more a meditation on the book and our current political situation.
If you're curious about the plot, I urge you to read the book. It's a simply gorgeous novel. Otherwise, Bishop Barron does his usual superb job of explaining the complicated in his beautiful simplicity. Actually, don't read that link after all. There's not much to say after Bishop Barron is finished writing.
Doerr tickled my brain with this book, writing beautiful prose that managed to not be overwrought. Interesting without overwhelming the reader with too many descriptions, flowery verses, or philsophizing (all of which I enjoy, but in good measure).
The book has several themes, some of the most obvious are the contrasts between light and darkness, sight and blindness. Marie-Laure is blind, but understands human nature better than most. Werner has no such handicaps, but often chooses to overlook darkness in others, refusing to judge lest he be judged (by the school? by the Nazis? by himself?) and found unfit.
Perhaps due to their adolescence or the process of growing up in wartime, but both Marie-Laure and Werner repeat urgent mantras as young adults such as:
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever”and
“Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”I've been thinking of these mantras, turning them over and over in my head, just as Marie-Laure turned over the wooden puzzle boxes in her hands. I want desperately to respond appropriately to what is going on in our country today. I don't want to be left with regrets like Werner.
I am tempted at times to feeling it doesn't matter what I do, that I am only one piece of a huge puzzle, with more working parts than I can imagine. I think if this book communicates anything, then it's message of that individuals matter, have incredible worth. We truly have so much light inside that we cannot see. Just as Werner finds hope and redemption in the beauty of Marie-Laure, I look to my children and see good news for the world. The beauty of their light inside, the hope and wonder they display so naively to the world, give me light and courage for my path today.
I am just one person, but I am a lamp to my children and they are watching me. They may be the ones to change the world when it is their time. So I must do my part now.
“All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?”