Anne Egseth’s first novel, This Is All He Asks of You, is a coming of age story for all ages. It is poignant, profound, and beautifully written. Egseth’s style is suitably simple for an adolescent narrator, yet subtle enough to capture the nuances of one awakening to the spark of the divine within all things. It is told through letters written by twelve-year-old Luna, re-read 10 years later by her twenty-two year old self. Luna wrote the letters to the father she never met, knowing they would never be sent.
At twelve, Luna is tuned in— to nature, to the people around her, and to the world of energetic forces that envelope us. She sees golden Light all around her, follows the guidance of beeping in her ears, and ponders what happens to the Light she sees in people’s bodies after they die. She befriends the strange man next door, who practices walking meditation in his backyard. They discuss the way neighboring trees talk to each other through a net of fungi, and how they share their resources in difficult times. He helps her through the death of her mother from cancer.
At twenty-two, Luna is closed off, wearing a thick shell. She sees black snow outside her window. For ten years she has done what is expected of her, but has not recovered from the loss of her mother. She has not been able to find the golden light she knew before. Then her friend sends her the old letters of her younger self.
Spanning Egseth’s native Norway, Washington DC and Greece, this short visionary novel shows us we are all in the same boat. We are all refugees, we are all seeking our father, our mother, our homeland, our connection to the greater whole. But Egseth assures us “the longing in our hearts will make the path appear out of nowhere.”
At twelve, Luna discovers a book in her mother’s purse that proves she is not crazy to see the world as she does. Jacques Lusseyran, who wrote And There Was Light, lost his sight at age seven, yet nevertheless saw the radiance in all things. Young Luna is overjoyed, as we all are when we realize we are not alone in our awakening.
“I read the words of the title of the book…” she writes, “…and it was as if I had eyes in my heart, as if I could look from my heart, and the book was luminous. It was light.”
I say the same of This is All He Asks of You. It is luminous.