‘What Light’ by Jay Asher

★★/5 stars

Published by Macmillan!

For eleven months out of the year, Sierra lives in Oregon with her parents on their Christmas tree farm. However, the final month is spent in California selling the trees on a lot, with a cosy (read: cramped) caravan and cheap hot chocolates made with candy canes. Every year is much the same; same traditions, same best friend, Heather, to bake cookies with. Until it’s not. The same, that is. Because, on what will potentially be her final year spreading the Christmas cheer with her family’s homegrown trees, Sierra meets the elusive Caleb who’s got a lot of rumours following him around, none of them apparently good.

I’m going to be completely honest here and say I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would. That’s not to say it wasn’t good; I just personally think it’s perhaps a little better suited to someone younger than me, who simply wants a sugary-sweet, festive read to get them through the holiday season. Because, the thing is, ‘What Light’ did feel rather simplistic and although all the above is all I really wanted out of my December read, there were lots of holes and bits that irked on me and generally felt a bit ‘meh’.

I loved the premise and was so ready to curl up with a cosy read that wasn’t anything too daring, but still, you know, well developed and realistic. Up until about the mid-point, I was into it, truth be told. I liked that it was fairly cliché and cutesy. But then things just started to feel very off. The pacing was weird. The relationship between Sierra and Caleb felt stilted, then proceeded to progress rather quickly. Towards the end, they had a lot of miscommunication issues and just failing to actually talk rather than get flustered and dramatic — which was probably the most real bit of the entire book, until the post-fallout things happened… Caleb completely flips a switch at one point and assumes Sierra has this warped image of him, which, let’s be clear, is fine, because when you’re insecure your own head isn’t always on your side in making you see everything from a more rational perspective. But it’s the fact that then literally a couple of pages later, after getting so angry and basically calling it a day with Sierra, he’s absolutely fine and there to make a go of things. There’s no explicit making up or resolution. It felt entirely ridiculous — but then maybe that’s the melodrama you want out of teen fiction and this book just wasn’t for me?

I also wasn’t 100% sold on Caleb’s character to begin with. I expected a little more from the rumours going around about him and the eventual unveiling. I hoped the rumours would either be completely wrong and his reputation had been left unfairly tarnished, or there would be some other level to it that made for a great plot twist. However, it’s exactly as everyone thinks (and it’s hella dramatic) and everyone is just completely fine with it, including those involved in the event the rumours stemmed from itself.

All that being said, I did finish the book and really felt its potential. The psychology behind Caleb could have been so interesting to explore in regards to his general insecurities, his inability to deal with his emotions as a teenage boy, and how both of these things perhaps come from a broken family. So perhaps if you’re not as picky as me (because I will say that book blogging has made me more of a critic than I ever was before), you’ll really love and take ‘What Light’ for what it is: an easy, snowflake-encrusted romance, perfect to read with your favourite fluffy Christmas socks.

Favourite line:

“He laughs, and his laugh is so perfect I want to continue drawing it out of him.”

Thank you to My Kinda Book for sending a review copy!*

‘What Light’ is out now to buy!

Currently listening to #2

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