What Light by Jay Asher
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date: October 18, 2016
Reviewed by: Courtney DeWitt
Fiction Addict Scorecard: B
Sierra and her family know Christmas. Her parents met and fell in love on a Christmas tree lot years ago and carried on the family tradition of selling trees ever since. Every holiday season that Sierra can remember, the three of them drive down from their tree farm in Oregon to the lot in California, but this season is different. With sales dwindling, it looks like Sierra will have to say goodbye to the lot and her friend, Heather. Still, Sierra is determined to enjoy the time she has with Heather and drink as many homemade peppermint mochas as possible.
Then she meets Caleb. He’s cute, he has a dimple that melts hearts, and he may be trouble. Rumor is he attacked his little sister with a knife years before. Normally, even a hint of violence would make Sierra run the other way. As a matter of fact, the idea of dating at all makes her run the other way. Yet there’s something about Caleb that draws her in, despite the myriad reasons to not get attached. She’s determined to find out the truth about the boy with the dimple who returns to buy Christmas trees regularly. Will Sierra help Caleb find forgiveness and a second chance? Or will she waste her possibly last weeks in California on a boy with a mysterious history?
What Light is everything one would hope for in a sappy, sweet Christmas story- a beautiful setting, resident bad boy, snappy friends, and plenty of teen love. Who needs sugar plums when you have Christmas novels? For me, the story started out too full of tropes. The setting remained original and tickled my Christmas fancy, so I forged ahead. The development did not disappoint.
Although I felt caged about Sierra’s infatuation with a boy that could be violent (based on personal experience), Caleb’s back story opened my eyes to look deeper. After all, my Momma taught me to not believe everything I heard. What Light asks the reader to see all sides of a story. How does one large mistake affect friends, family, and one’s self? Does an action always denote a person’s true nature?
I finished the story with tears in my eyes. I’m not sure that their teen love can last, but I know I need the kind of redemption and understanding that Sierra gave to Caleb. Also, I learned a few new vocabulary words in the process. Full of wit, compassion, and the beauty of forgiveness, What Light is an overall wonderful holiday read for young adults and full-grown adults alike.