UNDER THE LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb


Age Range: 14 - 18
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Teens overcome troubled lives through metaphysical and spiritual opportunities in this poetic sequel.

After being humiliated by her zealot father and unsupportive mother, Jenny drifts away, leaving her body open for Helen, a 130-year-old ghost still mourning her untimely death. A ghostly companion to creative people, Helen seizes the opportunity to become corporeal and connect with kindred spirit James, who occupies the body of drug-abusing juvenile delinquent Billy. Helen only uses Jenny for six days, but even the gentlest spirits can cause destruction, and Jenny unwillingly returns from an astral-projection adventure to a shattered life and ruined reputation. She seeks comfort in Billy’s company, and together they try to come to terms with their trauma and to remember their out-of-body experiences. To chilling effect, Whitcomb skillfully incorporates the unsettling and grotesque aspects of the living teens’ family lives—Billy’s abusive childhood, Jenny’s fanatical parents (like characters from a Stephen King novel)—and Helen’s disastrous death and separation from her daughter. Jenny’s and Helen’s voices are distinct and passionate, though the shifts between narrators and planes of existence can be disorienting. Jenny’s reconstruction of events revisits the same characters and setting as A Certain Slant of Light (2005) but offers further literary and elegiac contemplation of life, love and the afterlife.

Life proves as haunting as death in this well-crafted ghost story. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 14th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-547-36754-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2013


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