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YA Review: In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Title: In the Wild Light
Author: Jeff Zentner
Year published: 2021
Category: YA fiction 
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (TN, CT)

SummaryLife in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He's been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he has to leave behind. Jeff Zentner's new novel is a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.

Review: I read Zentner's The Serpent King years ago when it came out and LOVED it so I was excited to hear about this book when my friend recommended it. And, Zentner did it again, this book is fabulous!

Cash is a narrator that is trustworthy, caring, smart, and pulls the reader into his world so that we want things to go his way. I cried and laughed with him. And Delaney and her brain, so impressive. But, I like that she is more than her genius. The supporting characters are also well defined and add to what we know about Cash and his world. The relationships between the characters are real and deep.

The contrasts between Cash's home in Sawyer, Tennessee and his private school in Connecticut are well defined and I like the way each plays a role in creating Cash and the young man he is becoming.

And Zentner's writing is fantastic. I am not someone re-reads lines, but in this book I did. He has such a great turn of phrase, a way of describing feelings and senses that really works. My favorite is that "memory is a tether."

Challenges for which these count:  none

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