THIS RAGING LIGHT captures a teen’s power for perseverance in a heartfelt debut!
Lucille’s life is slowly slipping out of control through no fault of her own. Will she be able to stop the world from crashing down when it’s finally left in her hands?
It all started the night he father snapped, attacking her mother and finding himself in a mental institution, only to disappear without a trace. Shortly after, her mother left on a “vacation” from which she never returned. Lucille is left with the house she grew up in, bills to pay, her 11-year-old sister Wren, and the jarring task of maintaining an outwardly normal life, lest Wren be taken away from her by the foster system.
Lucille forms a plan with Wren and her best friend, Eden, to keep their secret struggle away from the public eye. It involves Lucille hopping into a scary new job at Fred’s– a slightly less provocative version of Hooter’s with better food, someone always keeping a watchful eye on Wren, and an ever-tangled web of lies meant to keep the neighbors and their friends none-the-wiser. Things get complicated when Eden decides to bring her twin brother, Digby, into the mix.
Though she grew up with Digby and thought of him like a brother for much of her childhood, Lucille’s romantic obsession has been slowly growing in recent years. To her, he’s got perfect looks, a perfect personality… and a perfect girlfriend, which is why things get so sticky when Lucille realizes that Digby has feelings for her too. But with the secrets and the massive life changes tearing apart Lucille’s resolve and threatening to tear her friendship with Eden to shreds, can she justify a relationship with Digby, if he’s even willing?
This Raging Light doesn’t have action or much adventure, but it has a key element that’s missing from many a story: heart. Loads and loads of heart. This novel is a story of the human condition and our ability to overcome even the worst situations when we tap into our inner-strength. Debut author Estelle Laure knows how to capitalize on Lucille’s emotional struggle and unique situation to reach the emotional core. Full parental abandonment is not a topic covered in most YA literature, but Laure brings it to the forefront with poise.
Lucille is a character most of us can relate to– smart but not brilliant, not popular but not without friends, simply trying to blend in with her surroundings. When things go bad, we root for her because we see some resemblance in ourselves. She doesn’t handle everything with grace, but under the circumstances, we understand. Eden, however, comes off as a little too harsh at times despite being a great friend when things initially get tough. Lucille’s sister Wren is a fairly stereotypical little sister character who is sweet and lovable but doesn’t understand much, which made her a bit flat at times.
As for Digby? The romance is adorable, but not too intense or driven. There’s a fair amount of lust, but the story doesn’t linger too heavily. We’d definitely swoon over Digby Jones! It’s true to those teenage years in the sense that there’s a lot of drama and indecision surrounding the potential relationship, but we liked the realism of their frustration. However, for being advertised as a romance, the story don’t focus as heavily on that as we had expected.
While we were most definitely moved by the story and Lucille’s fortitude, there was a certain something missing. It always felt as if the arc could have been more powerful and hit us harder, but Estelle Laure’s overall writing style held back. The characters are surprising contained, which didn’t always work for their development. There were also a few YA tropes in there– like Eden’s uncanny ability to quote classic literature– though they didn’t grate too harshly.
If you’re looking for a story that will reaffirm the power within you and in the people around you, you’ll be thrilled with This Raging Light. Despite its tough themes, there’s a lot of hope in its pages. It may be fictional, but that hope still radiates out and gives something wonderful back to the reader.
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
This Raging Light hits shelves on December 22, 2015, but you can pre-order it now.