Review by Jackie
by Estelle Laure
PUB: January 2015
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (December 22, 2015)
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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. 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.
Breaking, broken, and raging, raging, raging. Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has to care for her younger sister. And she’s terribly in love with the most inconvenient of boys. This book wracked my being with sadness. Pretty much this entire book was me feeling like this girl needed a hug, some time off, and a nice big, home-y meal.
THIS RAGING LIGHT was beautiful and so, so sad. It felt a whole lot like a drowning person struggling to keep their head above water. Although the beauty of this book is undeniable, this is a VERY emotion-driven book. And, unfortunately (me being a mood reader) I wasn’t totally head over heels for it. I need a bit of happiness. As much as I ship the love, I also really DON’T ship the love. As much as I love Eden, I also want to punch her.
So let’s talk the plot. After being sufficiently abandoned by those meant to take care of her, Lucille works herself to the bone and deeper to take care of her fourth-grade sister and to keep their little family fed and together. She doesn’t shy away from doing what she has to do in order to keep her head above water.
And then the character… There is Lucille, her younger sister, Eden, and Digby. The brief flashes of minor characters are what I think make this novel sort of build to a ‘fever-pitch.’ This community is what makes this book unique. Their willingness to be helpful. Anyways: Digby. I’m half in love with him, and half disappointed in him. But, then again, those disappointments and awe-moments is what makes the boy who he is.
That’s sort of what I like about this book, and also what makes it a 3-Star novel. The flaws and the mistakes develop the character and are used as a building technique instead of some kind of growth point.
Basically, THIS RAGING LIGHT was a very half-full, half-empty book for me. I didn’t feel as much as I wanted to. I was pretty monotone while reading it, and when I did feel something it wasn’t joy of amusement. It was the kind of sadness that weighs you down. After finishing it I had to read some upbeat book about friendship where nobody is left. I think this book plays a lot on fears. Or at least some fears of mine. And maybe because it was so startling it deserves more stars, but for me…. this book just wasn’t it.
The novel was beautiful, and totally quote worthy. However, it wasn’t as emotion-inducing as I was hoping. I need to be able to connect with the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t.