This book was quite a bit different to what I was expecting. Jay Asher’s other solo book, Thirteen Reasons Why, was a bit of a stand-out novel for me, with its biting critique of slut-shaming culture and bullying. I guess I expected What Light to tackle similarly weighty subjects, but instead it was a fairly light romance story. This is fine and everything, but I guess I was just expecting something meatier.
When it became evident that this was mostly feelgood romance, I got into the swing of it and quite enjoyed it. Sierra was a nice enough character and I liked Caleb. Their romance felt in some ways a bit drawn out (spoiler alert: they don’t kiss until nearly the end of the book!) and in other ways a bit insta-lovey. They made a nice enough pair, though.
I also liked Sierra’s relationship with her parents. They seemed like a really connected, loving family unit who were all totally invested in their family business and all loved Christmas!
I wasn’t hugely keen on Sierra’s friends - I thought the ones in Oregon were a bit demanding and the California friend was a bit of a dimwit and pretty nasty to her boyfriend. Sierra felt pulled in both directions by her two lives, but for me the friends didn’t really seem worth it.
Sierra was going through some stuff in this book, which was fine, but I didn’t really feel that ‘I might not get to spend a month every year in California’ was enough of an issue for me to get behind and elicit my sympathy. Any character where that is the worst thing that’s happening to them is going to lack tension. Likewise, ‘I had a fight with my sister and ran after her with a knife once’ was enough of a reason for Caleb to be such a social pariah and to feel so tortured. When I was sixteen I punched my (younger but much taller) brother so hard I broke my thumb. True story. Did I sob about it? Not a chance. Neither did he.
All in all this was a cute book and good for an unchallenging read in the run-up to Christmas.
I received a copy of What Light in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Macmillan and Netgalley.