Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Dec 28, 2015

TitleThis Raging Light
Author: Estelle Laure
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: December 22, 2015
Pages/Format: 288, ARC
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Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.









Book in One Word: Meh.


Prior to receiving an ARC in the mail, I hadn't heard much about This Raging Light. (Though I had seen the cover around, and several other bright ones like it.) But I was intrigued by the premise (a teenager is left to care for her younger sister) and romance, so I fit it into my TBR for the end of year. And once I started reading it, I saw quite a few raving reviews start pouring in. As for me, well...I'm not raving about this one.

This is going to sound completely rude, but at one point it felt like This Raging Light was trying too hard. I suddenly started to notice all the metaphors and the poetic attempts in the writing, and if the prose had previously been like that, I hadn't noticed--until I did. And once I did, it, for some reason, made my head hurt. When that happens, that usually means that I'm Not a Fan of the writing and/or that the writing is, for some unfathomable reason, really bugging me. So that happened here. All of a sudden Lucille's voice tried to seem stellar and magnificent and worthy of framed quotes, and it threw me off the tracks. It wasn't just that, either--it was the plot, and how some things happened without much of or enough of an explanation, and I didn't get to see things happen as much as they were told. Don't try to make me feel emotions; show them to me. It also didn't help that I had been on a three-book streak of really good contemporaries and this broke it. And when reading a book makes my head hurt, well.

The concept behind This Raging Light was interesting, but it also seemed kind of unrealistic. After Lucille's dad went cuckoo, her mom lost it, too--as in, her mom up and left and said she'd be back when she'd be back and that was it. So it's up to Lucille to take care of her little sister--and herself--pay the bills, and keep her MIA mother a secret so that they don't end up separated or in the foster care system. Could you imagine having to do that? She's forced to play adult and get a job and go to school and pay all the bills and do everything, all while seventeen. It's like an alternate universe version of being a teen mom: instead of an infant she's taking care of a kid (oh, gosh...ten, tops? I can't remember) and it's all been thrown on her with no parental support, no baby daddy (or child support), and she didn't have nine months to prepare for it. I know I said it seemed kind of unrealistic--surely someone would realize these minors are parentless and tattle--but it's also not hard to believe that stuff like this actually happens. And that's pretty shitty and sad.

All in all, I couldn't say This Raging Light was a disappointment because I didn't have any expectations, really. That's not to say that I wasn't hoping it would be a pleasant surprise, some hidden gem of a book that would sweep me off my feet and insist on being recommended to everyone. It had some compelling points, but I needed less from the writing and more from the details. (There was this random hitch in a friendship or two that just made no sense, for example. Or new relationships that were suddenly there.) The ending wasn't very satisfactory, either--it was a little too open-ended, in my opinion. Really, This Raging Light was a book with a bright cover that I read, and now, I'm simply done with it. It was okay. The End.


Did I like it? Meh.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? No.
Would I purchase it? No.
Who would I recommend it to? If you like reading about characters in perilous situations (without fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, or paranormal elements) and are a fan of prose that's meant to induce emotions, then voila!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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