Newth, Mette. The Dark Light. Translated by Faith Ingwerson Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-31701-1. $17.00. 245 pp. 6+ FI Reviewed by Cinda Clement Thirteen-year-old Tora is a mountain child in Norway, living a harsh existence a the youngest child in a family ruled by a harsh, negative grandmother. Although Tora is bullied by her older brothers, she finds friendship and kindness in her friend Endre. After he leaves to find work, she finds that she has leprosy and is deserted by her family to be roughly carted off to the hospital for lepers. The rest of the story tells of her experiences in the hospital. As Tora's disease progresses, she struggles to find meaning to her life and the death she sees around her. As she serves and grows to love the people around her, she finds a productive, satisfying life in a horrible situation. She learns to forgive, and to give and accept love. This book is a treasure. The attitude of the main character allows her to live a valuable life, even as a leper dying in the hospital. While depicting, quite graphically, the progress of the disease on the body, the author also presents a soul that grows strong and brightens in love, self-knowledge, and acceptance. The language is beautiful, and the story is well told. Although a story on leprosy would naturally be sad, this one is much broader than sad, suggesting that attitude is at least as important as experience in this life-a good lesson for all to learn. This book is a translation, but the beauty of the story and the presentation have been preserved.
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