Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: What Light

Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

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. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

My Review

YA fan favorite Jay Asher is back again, and this time, he's brought his audience a different kind of story; a Christmas story. While reading his latest novel, fans of Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why will be familiar with the depth and emotion that he brings to life while telling beautiful and realistic stories that many teens and adults will be able to relate to. So grab your mittens and peppermint mochas! It's time to ring in the season with What Light.

What Light tells the story of two teenagers named Sierra and Caleb. Sierra hails from the Northwest, and Caleb lives in the California town where Sierra's family sets up a Christmas tree lot every winter. The two meet by chance when Caleb comes to her family's lot to purchase a Christmas tree. After a few more chance encounters, the two develop a friendship and feelings for one another. But are their feelings strong enough to overcome a dark secret from Caleb's past?

I'll admit that I went into What Light with very low expectations. Why? Well because I read Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, and just didn't feel it. It just wasn't the book or the story for me, and to be honest, I was disappointed in a lot of it. I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment again. I didn't want to fangirl about this book before it came out, even though I thought it had a very promising synopsis. Instead, I just figured that I'd give What Light a chance and just see what happens.

I'm so glad that I did give this novel a chance because I ended up really enjoying the plot and a lot of other things about this book. I didn't fall completely in love with it, but I really enjoyed reading about Sierra's life and watching her fall in love for the first time. What I got out of What Light was a story that I could really appreciate.

The characters in What Light seemed like average teenagers to me, so I really appreciated that. The book follows Sierra from her home in Oregon to the California Christmas tree lot that her parents set up every winter, so there are a lot of different characters in this book. Sierra basically lives two different lives, and she has to work hard to make all three of her best friends (two from home, one from California) know that she cares about them. I really liked seeing the different dynamics of these friendships and seeing just how all of these different people fit into Sierra's life. I also really liked Caleb. He's mysterious, but his walls come down as Sierra really gets to know him. It was refreshing to read a male lead as vulnerable, and I applaud Mr. Asher for this. 

There's also a little bit of a romance in What Light, although I will admit that I feel like I was mislead a bit from the cover synopsis. The romance in the book just wasn't what I was expecting. From what I read about the book, I was expecting a whirlwind romance. I read about a very different romance. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but some readers might be disappointed. On the other hand, I think readers will enjoy reading about Sierra and Caleb. This book reads like a real teen love story. It's slow to develop and simmer, but it just feels real and right. 

Jay Asher's What Light is definitely a book you'll want to curl up with this holiday season. If you do, you'll find yourself reading about the magical time of the year from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It's a sweet book about first love and second chances that I think any reader will really appreciate, especially during this time of the year. 

Jay Asher's debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, has regularly appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list during its first decade in print, selling over 2.5 million copies in the United States alone. The Future of Us, his second novel, was co-authored with Printz Honor winner Carolyn Mackler. His novels have been translated into thirty-five languages. He lives with his family in a California town very much like the one in his newest novel, What Light.

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