Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 22, 2015
Source: the publisher
Narrator: Sandy Rustin
Length: 5 hours, 36 minutes
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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.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure is the story of Lucille and Wren, sisters that have been left behind by a father that has “gone crazy” and is living in a group home environment for recovery and a mother that just…left. Lucille and Wren have no clue whether or not their mother is coming back. Older sister Lucille is struggling to keep it together without other people finding out that they’re living all alone. They fear that if someone finds out, they’ll be separated and sent away.
The book begins on Wren’s first day of fourth grade. Lucille struggles to get both herself and Wren fed, dressed, and walked to school on time – there are nine blocks between Wren’s school and her own high school. As the story continues and bills begin to pile up, Lucille has to get a job, forcing her to figure out childcare for her younger sister. She also has to cleverly navigate important things like parent-teacher conferences, answering the well-meaning questions of friends’ parents and neighbors on her mother’s whereabouts, and make sure that she remembers which lies are told to which person. Lucille also has to stretch her quickly dwindling money and grocery stash.
Basically Lucille has to be an adult while also dealing with everything that a high schooler normally deals with: homework, peer pressure, maintaining friendship, and first love.
Lucille is fortunate enough to have Eden, her best friend, so she can talk about the things that are weighing heavily on her. Eden’s twin brother Digby knows everything too. Otherwise, she is careful about who she tells: every person that knows her story is a threat to her and Wren, even the people that she loves. She must guard her secret close to her heart.
Things I loved about the book:
- I LOVE the Lucille + Wren main plot line. I felt deeply connected and invested here. I think much of this had to do with some of the detailing that the author included and it couldn’t hurt that I’m a mother. This is, in my opinion, the resounding strength of this book.
- Sibling relationships. Lucille and Wren are fiercely loyal and loving, and it is clear that they are a team above all else. I love that. Also, Lucille’s BFF Eden + her twin brother Digby have a great sibling relationship with loyalty above all else. Two great sibling relationships in one book? Yes please!
Things that weren’t my favorite about this book:
- There are several subplots in this book thrown into the mix that, along with the main plot, felt like they were competing for my attention.
- Part of the main point of this story is that Lucille’s “falling in love” comes at a terrible time. Lucille’s huge crush on Digby develops into a relationship, but Digby has a girlfriend. Now, I really love Digby as a character-he’s a huge help to Lucille and even little Wren-and I know for a fact that some high school boys act in the same way that he does (girlfriend with another girl on the side), but that does not make reading about this romance any less stressful. It is meant to be swoony and there is resolution, but I admit to holding my breath throughout the story where the romance is concerned.
- The author has a unique writing style that seems to be a mixture of short-phrases, poetic prose, straight-up narrative. I like unique writing styles. In this case, however, the poetic style along with the multiple subplots just felt cumbersome to me, especially in the second half. Simply put: it was hard to concentrate on the language with all of the stuff going on.
The more I think about this main plot line with Lucille and Wren, the more I like it. The strength of these two main characters is astounding under the stresses that they carried, and that is what I want to take away from this story more than anything else. I know that Lucille made some poor decisions, but I know that I wouldn’t have made all perfect decisions either in her situation. I’m all on board to read the companion sequel (But Then I Came Back), scheduled for release in April 2017.
The audiobook format of This Raging Light by Estelle Laure is 5 hours, 36 minutes, Unabridged, and published by Recorded books. This is is a fairly-quick read in print. Even so, I added the audiobook to my read for the listening experience. It is narrated by Sandy Rustin, who did a nice job and provides a good listening experience for this novel. However, I did find myself reading over this audiobook so that I ended up pausing it in several places to read ahead. Either the story was compelling enough to read a little quicker than the audio or it wasn’t holding my attention as much as the print copy was. Still, I would recommend the audiobook version without hesitation.