Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: What Light by Jay Asher

Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA fiction (romance)
Pages: 251
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)USA (OR, CA)

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. It's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other. By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. But as disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra can't help but wonder if love really is enough to overcome every obstacle....

Review: I loved Asher's novel Thirteen Reasons Why (this is a link to when I met Jay Asher since I read the book before starting this blog) and have been eagerly awaiting his next novel. It's finally here! Yay!

While I didn't love this book as much as Thirteen Reasons Why, I did enjoy it. And they are very different from each other. What Light has such an interesting setting: other than migrant farming families who travel with the seasons, I have never thought about people who spend a finite chunk of each year away from home. Sierra's holiday time in California seems so idyllic in some ways--who wouldn't want to spend the holidays somewhere where you have friends and know the community? And surrounded by Christmas trees and that holiday smell? Sounds wonderful. I love going to my local farm to get our tree each year. I taught the daughters and they are now my colleagues and that sense of community is fantastic. So I got to hold those fond memories in my mind while I read this book.

Besides the interesting and different setting, Sierra and Caleb's story is one that will resonate with many teens: he has a troubled past (well, one troubled incident), she's a good girl, and they really, really like one another. Her parents are worried and caution her against getting too attached. No huge surprises there, but Asher has a way of writing that works for me; I get pulled into the story quickly and it holds my attention. I stayed up late two nights in a row to read.

I think the fact that Christmas is the setting really worked for me as well. I love Christmas: the smells, the lights, the food, time with family, visiting that one house in town that has thousands of lights and decorations. It just makes me feel full and happy.

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