This Raging Light
HMH Books for Young Readers, December 2015
From the publisher—
Lucille Bennett is pushed into adulthood after her mom decides to “take a break”…from parenting, from responsibility, from Lucille and her little sister, Wren. Left to cover for her absentee parents, Lucille thinks, “Wren and Lucille. Lucille and Wren. I will do whatever I have to. No one will pull us apart.”
Now is not the time for level-headed 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.
Having coffee (a smoothie in my case) with a friend last week, I told her about this book I’d just finished reading for the second time. I’m not talking about the usual kind of re-read that you might do months or years after the first time; this was immediately following my first read and that’s unheard of for me. I only very rarely re-read and never immediately but I guess I can’t claim that anymore.
So, why did I have a need to re-read right away? It’s because I was so consumed by outrage that I had to find out if it was just because of the initial shock or if my outrage was real. It was indeed real and still roiling in my innards, so to speak. I’m appalled that any parent could walk away from her own children without any concern for what would happen to them and my feelings about this mother are even stronger because I know this happens in real life.
The story opens on Day 14 since Lu’s mother left, supposedly on a brief “break” and Lu is becoming more and more panicked as she begins to realize that the woman—hard to call her a mother—is probably not coming back. That compounds the devastation of losing her father to a mental breakdown and the level of narcissism both of these parents display is amazing. They prove the point that some people should never have children.
This is also a story of the deep bonds between siblings, in particular Lu and Wren but also Lu’s best friend, Eden, and her twin brother, Digby, and the four of them pretty much save the day, with a little help from….who? Certainly Lu’s boss and her co-worker and friend, Shane, go above and beyond but someone else is really helping behind the scenes.
A troubled romance plays a part in Lu’s story but it doesn’t overwhelm the core of the tale, the ability of a girl to overcome great adversity and heartache with a little help from those who really do care. In the end, I’m still outraged but I also am left with a feeling of hope and belief in the goodness of most people.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2016.