This Light Between Us

This Light Between Us
Age Range
Release Date
January 07, 2020
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In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki from Bainbridge Island, Washington is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France―a girl. He thought she was a boy. In spite of Alex’s reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic―and along with them, the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force them to confront the darkest aspects of human nature.

From the desolation of an internment camp on the plains of Manzanar to the horrors of Auschwitz and the devastation of European battlefields, the only thing they can hold onto are the memories of their letters. But nothing can dispel the light between them.

Editor review

1 review
This Light Between Us
(Updated: November 15, 2019)
Overall rating
Writing Style
In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki is disgusted when he finds out that his pen-pal Charlie is a girl. Still, they continue writing to each other. Then in 1941 Alex's life changes when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. His family is forced from their homes and sent to Mazanar, a Japanese internment camp.

Winds of change come over Paris too. Charlie witnesses the Nazis overtaking her beloved Paris and is caught up in the horrors the Nazis plan against the Jewish people. Through all of the terrors around them, nothing can extinguish their friendship.

What worked: I LOVED this story something fierce. I couldn't put this story down! Readers see a friendship grow between two unlikely people. Alex is shy and loves his comic books. He lives on a strawberry farm with his family. He looks up to his football quarterback older brother Frank. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his whole life is turned upside down. Former friends want nothing to do with him. His brother is taken off the high school football team because he's breaking curfew that has been set against anyone who shares Japanese heritage. Letters are exchanged between him and Charlie. Readers see the shock, denial, and then anger Alex feels when his town and country call him the 'enemy'.

Charlie's life is shown through their correspondence. She loves Paris and her life. When the Nazis come, she also goes through shock, denial, and then has a burning desire to fight back in small ways. Throughout the novel, her letters are what keeps Alex going. There's also a paranormal element where he senses and sees her, long after her letters stop coming. Her words to 'Find me, Alex,' compel him to do just that.

The war is shown through Alex's experiences when he joins the 442nd unit that consisted of Japanese Americans soldiers.

The depictions of Manzanar are shown in raw, vivid passages. Alex and his family endure much when they are forced into the internment camp and lose everything just because of their culture. I feel strongly that more stories like this need to be told, especially with today's political climate.

Heart-wrenching, engaging historical story of two pen-pals who continue to fight to stay connected even when a war strives to tear them apart. A must read for those who love historicals as much as I do.
Good Points
1. Beautifully written tale of a Japanese American teen and French Jewish girl during WWII
2. Heart-wrenching
This Light Between Us
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