Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Title: This Raging Light
Author: Estelle Laure
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Publication date: December 22, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary (via Goodreads):

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.

Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for sending me this electronic copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

How do you talk about a book that strikes you like lightning? It takes away all of your words and you're just left with marks across your skin. But they stay there on you, and maybe eventually you stop noticing them – maybe they become par for the course – but still you know that something about you has changed forever.

That's what this book felt like to me. A story filled with heart and attitude and sass. One minute, the writing is wild and heavy enough to smother you – the next, we're slinging yo mama jokes and mooning over gangly boys with sharp green eyes.

This Raging Light is a story that reminds us that the secrets we carry are sometimes better off shared; that relationships are only as broken as you allow them to be; that we are far less alone than we think, and stronger than we give ourselves credit for. It's about learning to let go, to trust. It's realizing that family comes in all shapes and sizes, and it's not limited to whose blood runs through your veins. It's about people who are flawed, who are doing the best they can, and sometimes they mess up and they hurt you without even trying – but it's about understanding that life is messy and thrilling and always filled with hope, or at least the vaguely bright possibility of tomorrow.

Oh, this book is not perfect by any means. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered (what about Lucille's mom!) and could stand to be fifty pages longer (tell me more about Eden!, tell me more about Fred's!). But I loved this book in a way I haven't loved a book in a long, long time, and I will sing praises of it – and Estelle Laure – to anyone who asks (and also to anyone who doesn't). I will show them all my underlined passages on every other page. I will tell them about this girl, Lucille, and her crazybrains voice and how she is realer than most people are, and how her sister Wren is what all adults should aspire to be, and I will even point to Digby as a shining – or at least semi-luminous – beacon of boyhood.

I will shout from the rooftops:

"This is what all books should be!"

"I can't believe this is a debut novel!"

"What hope do the rest of us have!"

This is a story I want to read again and again. Loud and quiet, intricate and simple, big enough to swallow you whole.

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