It is Marie-Laure’s 16th birthday, and Etienne presents her with a package. The package contains two books—both parts of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, written in Braille. Marie-Laure is overjoyed—she never finished the second part of the novel, and has always loved Jules Verne. She embraces Etienne, and then begins reading straight away. Etienne tells Marie-Laure that he was able to obtain such an expensive book because Marie-Laure has “made a lot of friends in this town.”
It’s a sign of Marie-Laure’s good nature that when she needs a Braille book, Etienne has no problem recruiting people to donate their money and time so that she gets the book she wants. That the book in question is by Jules Verne reminds us that Etienne is becoming something of a surrogate father to Marie-Laure, in the absence of Daniel LeBlanc. It’s suggested that if Marie-Laure can once again escape into the fantastical world of Verne, she may be able to escape her depression.