WHAT LIGHT by Jay Asher


Age Range: 13 - 18
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Love, hope, and forgiveness are under the tree this Christmas.

From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Sierra and her parents move from their Oregon tree farm to their sale lot in California. Though Sierra usually eschews involvement with local boys, this year, Heather, her California pal, is determined that Sierra indulge in a “holiday love affair.” Enter Caleb of the adorable dimple, and it’s blush at first sight. However, Caleb has a back story: years ago, he went after his sister with a knife. Troublingly, the revelation doesn’t scare Sierra; she thinks Caleb must be good now—after all, he buys Christmas trees for people who can’t afford them. Sierra’s decision to skip a best friend’s holiday play in order to be with Caleb may also have readers grinding their teeth. A subplot reveals that Heather doesn’t want to break up with her boyfriend because she needs to feel that he wants her. The sexism runs both ways: the novel’s main theme is that of boy-needs-girl-to-make-him-see-he’s-worthy-of-forgiveness. Neither characters nor book seem to question the retrograde nature of these relationships and assumptions. While most ethnicities are unnamed, leaving readers to infer that characters are probably white, there are two secondary characters of color: Mrs. Trujillo, a recipient of Caleb’s Christmas trees, and local mean girl Christy Wang.

Though apparently titled for the line from Romeo and Juliet, this second solo outing for the author of Thirteen Reasons Why is not a love story for the ages. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59514-551-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2016

Kirkus Interview
Jay Asher
March 10, 2015

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic. Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Asher has recently been on a 50-state tour talking to teens about suicide. We ask him about the tour this week on Kirkus TV. View video >


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