THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS by Cordelia Jensen

THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS

Age Range: 13 - 17
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Artistically gifted, academically challenged Linc is the biological child of white professional parents who wish Linc could be more like her black, transracially adopted sister, Holly—smart, athletic, popular.

Holly’s adoption from a Ghanaian orphanage was underway when Linc, four months younger, was conceived. Once close, the sisters’ paths have diverged. Linc’s on academic probation at their private school, where Holly’s an academic superstar even while juggling a boyfriend, student government, and soccer. Linc’s growing missteps (suggestive of ADD) trigger parental strictures and scolding lectures; her pleas for photography classes and transfer to an arts-focused school are vetoed. Revisiting Central Park’s Seneca Village site—a 19th-century community of freed blacks and European immigrants—where she and Holly played as children, Linc’s inspired to use photography to tell its history (its pre-European inhabitants aren’t mentioned) for a school project. Park and library visits provide useful cover for secret photography classes and a romance with classmate and fellow artist Silas. Linc’s solitary journey is convincing, but Holly, the only adopted character, never comes into focus. The questions and uncertainties she shares with Linc (wishing they’d visited her orphanage on the family’s trip to Ghana, wondering about her birth mother) remain fundamentally unexplored. Holly remains an enigma, her character arc peripheral (her image is omitted from the cover), her story half-told.

Occasionally pulled off course by tangential threads and underdeveloped characters, Linc’s struggle to chart her own future, unfolding in graceful verse, makes a compelling read. (Fiction.13-17)

Pub Date: March 27th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-54744-7
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2018




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