I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 22, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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.
Ever since I read Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, I have been fascinated by the story of kids being abandoned by their parents and having to make it on their own. I know that sounds a little messed up and perhaps that says something about me, but whatever it means, it was that plot point that pushed me toward This Raging Light. The thing about Lucille is that she has lived in a pretty small square footage, not just physically, but emotionally. She has her home life, which was mostly not great, and then school, and her very small circle of friends that mostly consisted of her best friend, Eden, and her crush on Eden’s twin brother, Digby. Her mother’s “vacation” forced her to step out of this comfort zone and not only take care of the basic needs of herself and her sister, but her own emotional needs. She was quietly determined and her quest to keep Wren and herself afloat was difficult, but she kept going and I was so pleased with how much there was to Lucille as a character. There was also this great sense of community as Lucille finds out that, while people will hurt you, there are also those who will selflessly try to help, as well.
I thought the writing was fabulous. It reminded me of the way that Jandy Nelson writes, with inner dialog and spoken dialog twisting around each other in wonderfully descriptive ways. The love story in this book, which seems to play a central role if you read the jacket copy, might be challenging for some readers. Digby does have a girlfriend, after all. He was a nice guy and I know many will love his kindness and red hair, but I didn’t feel like I knew him as much as I knew that Lucille needed him to know how she felt. Nothing in her life was easy over the course of this book, but that didn’t stop her from saying how she felt about Digby, no matter how it might turn out in the end. This included the way she stood up for herself, which I loved. So, in that sense, there was growth, and their relationship did have a bigger purpose in the book, other than just being the romance part. Really, though, I saw the relationship between Wren and Lucille to be central to the story. This was really a book about sisters. I feel I need to say something about the ending, which I loved. It was my favorite combination of open-ended, bittersweet, and hopeful. This Raging Light has been getting a lot of blurbs in the “read this” section of magazines, but I think the attention is well-deserved. The emotions were messy, but engaging, and I think you will find yourself rooting for Lucille and Wren, just as I did.