“Trust. What does it even mean? You hand somebody the knife to stab you with when you trust them. I know this much is true.”
Title: This Raging Light
Author: Estelle Laure
Publication: December 22nd 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review
Summary from 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.
This book is not okay for two reasons. One: it made me feel all sorts of things I really didn’t want to feel on Christmas. Two: it was so beautiful it made my teeth ache and my heart hurt. Goodness… This Raging Light is one hell of a debut. Not only did it read like a carefully crafted piece of art, it also completely destroyed me inside. In all honesty, I have never read a debut book such as this – and I probably never will again. There is undoubtedly an astounding amount of skill in this novel, even in just the writing alone – not to mention the characters or the plot. But… you add all of these perfect elements together, and what do you get? A beautiful, heartbreaking, mind-blowing, soul sucking book all wrapped with a rainbow cover and a sparkly ass bow.
This Raging Light is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands. I was unsure at first, the writing sort of put me off. But soon I got used to it, and as I got used to it I began to realize just how much of a gem I was holding. This book… guys, this book is everything I have ever wanting in a contemporary read. It should be illegal. This Raging Light is the poignant and touching story of seventeen-year-old Lucille who becomes the sole caretaker for her younger sister Wren after their mother abandons them without a word. And trust me, you will need a Costco pack of tissues when you read this masterpiece.
Lucille is something else entirely. She is a role model even though she isn’t trying to be – but that’s what makes her so amazing. This entire book is driven by her want and her need to protect her sister and keep the two of them together. She is terrified of being torn apart by the system, and that is the only reason she doesn’t get help. She isn’t stubborn in the way of refusing charity, her friends help her out more than once and she doesn’t really complain – she simply thanks them too damn much. It was a breath of fresh air really. Not only is Lucille smart and completely selfless, she also isn’t afraid to admit her mistakes or realize when she has made them in the first place. She is totally comfortable being the bigger man, as it were. She isn’t perfect, that’s not what I mean by any of this. She has her flaws, some of which kind of screw up the story pretty royally for everyone else – but she is real, she is entirely human. I think the hardest part for me when reading this book was her relationship with Wren. It’s just so… ugh mixed with a lot of aww and oh no. They’re siblings, but Lucille is trying to fit into the role of mom while Wren is trying to grow up much too quickly to compensate. Reading this will tear you into itty-bitty pieces, mow them over, and then force feed them back down your throat while you enjoy it. Seriously.
The other characters in this book are just as vivid, if not more so. Laure has such an amazing way of writing, of describing things in a way that makes them completely 3D. Like, the way she talks about Digby… it’s almost physically impossible not to become one with Lucille and feel everything just as intensely as she does. You become best friends with Eden, you learn to love Eden’s family, and you want to take care of Wren. Each character pulls at something deep inside of you because of how carefully constructed they all are. It is simply mind blowing. I don’t really know what else to say about these guys. Each and every character is important in some way, even the ones barely glossed over eventually play an important role. Neighborhood people, I’m talking about you. You know who you are, bless your souls. The characters, everything about this book really, is painfully beautiful.
There is one scene I really need to talk about, well, more like share with you. It touched me, I have no idea how to describe it other than: it made me feel all the feels and it killed me with them. So yea. This book is told in the number of days without Lucille and Wren’s mother in play, and this scene takes place on day twenty-seven. Lucille goes to meet Eden to talk, and in a gut wrenching moment, she asks Eden if she thinks that their mother loves them. Eden takes a moment to deliberate, and then says with an air of finality: “It doesn’t matter if she loves you or not.” This requires some explanation, for which she employs the help of Virginia Woolf. “All feeling has an equivalent in action or is useless,” is what she tells Lucille – meaning, it doesn’t matter if their mother cares or is sorry if she doesn’t do anything to express those feelings. If their mother, despite how heartbroken and sad she might feel because of what she has done, can’t bring herself to show her face and help her children… well then, “you just tell me what the fuck difference it makes.”
That scene broke me, as well as many others. Overall, This Raging Light is one hell of a book that deserves the effort of hunting it down and blowing through it in a mad rush. It is a gorgeous metaphor of life and what to do when everything is torn away illustrated through a very unique voice that deserves to be known.