Book Review: This Raging Light
By: Estelle Laure
Published By: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 22, 2015
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Lucille's life isn't going so well. Her parents are both absent and she is left on her own to raise her younger sister, Wren. Lucille doesn't want anyone to know about her situation because she fears that she and Wren will be separated. As things become more and more desperate, Lucille begins to wonder if she is capable of holding everything together.
This is certainly a novel that tugs at your heartstrings. I felt deeply for Lucille and Wren's plight. I understood their need to stay together in their home which held everything familiar and memorable. On the other hand, I struggled with this choice because as an adult and a teacher, I would never want a teenager to have to make these decisions and live this sort of life. I'm not naive enough to believe it doesn't happen for some, but it does make me sad that parents don't always follow through on the best course for their children. Luckily for Lucille and Wren, they have guardian angels in their neighborhood who begin to bestow acts of kindness upon the sisters. Those moments made my heart swell and remember that there is still goodness in the world - even when things seem pretty bleak.
In addition to the serious issues of this novel, Lucille is also experiencing a forbidden love of sorts. She has a huge crush on her best friend's twin brother, Digby. In the beginning, Digby seems totally oblivious to Lucille's feelings, but that changes over the course of the novel. Things are made more complicated by his long term girlfriend. For me, the romance was secondary to everything else happening in Lucille's life, and wasn't as compelling as I would have liked.
The element of the novel I was most drawn to was the relationship between Lucille and Wren. Sisters can be complicated, but I loved seeing the way these two relied on one another. Their relationship evolves throughout the course of the novel into one based on respect and mutual affection.
All in all, I enjoyed this read, but I did have one major complaint. Lucille's narrative voice irritated me throughout most of the novel. She's making these adult decisions yet she talks like a twelve year old girl in segments. It was off-putting that she was trying to come across as mature enough to handle her situation, but then sounded so immature. This does get better as the novel progresses, but I never totally got past my dislike for the voice.
One Last Gripe: The ending - ugh - so many loose ends
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the parts where the goodness of humanity shines through the murk of desperation.
First Sentence: Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation.
Favorite Character: Wren
Least Favorite Character: Lucille's Mom - I will never understand her choices.
Can the best thing happen at the worst time?
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.