A Light in the Dark Essay - Critical Essays

Milton Meltzer


Meltzer’s A Light in the Dark is young adult biography at its best. It is extremely readable, never talks down to its audience, and treats a subject whose life is interesting for a number of reasons. Howe’s passion for social causes of all kinds—particularly his idealistic support of the Greek Revolution, his effort for the abolition of slavery, and his work with the blind—will keep the interest of readers, both young and old. Meltzer also knows how to tell a good story, using conversation sparingly to make certain events more lively and providing the reader with background material on various people and historical events as needed. While he occasionally fills in his sometimes general narrative with fictionalized scenes and dialogue, Meltzer’s apparent research is convincing. This fact is evident in some of the details about Meltzer’s own life and in the chronology that he includes at the end of the book.

For the most part, Meltzer allows Howe’s amazing accomplishments to speak for themselves. The picture that comes across is of a dynamic, idealistic man who is more concerned with others than with himself. Meltzer obviously has a great respect for Howe, which is borne out by a comment in his acknowledgments suggesting that he talks about Howe incessantly. What most interests Meltzer is Howe’s concern with social change, something that he notes is a major concern in almost all the biographies that he has written.


(The entire section is 481 words.)