Thursday 29 December 2016

REVIEW: What Light by Jay Asher

Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Contemporary, Christmas
Release Date: 20th October 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon - it's an idyllic place for a girl to grow up, except that every year they have to pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other... 

My Thoughts:
What Light follows Sierra's potential last Christmas at her family's Christmas tree farm. Though she has to spend the festive period away from her friends at home each year, going to the farm means that she gets to spend time with her other best friend, Heather. This year, Heather wants to split up with her boyfriend in the New Year, so whilst she's having to spend time him in the run up to Christmas, she encourages Sierra to date a boy whilst at the farm so that they can go on double dates. That's when Caleb enters the story.

He becomes a frequent buyer of trees at the farm, and Sierra ends up developing feelings for him, especially when she finds out what he's doing with all of the trees he's buying. There are lots of rumours about something dark that happened in Caleb's past, but despite warnings to stay away from him, Sierra continues befriending him.

The romance between Sierra and Caleb is the main event of this story, but it just didn't fall into place for me. It's a short, Christmas love story, but I was hoping for something a little more interesting than a typical instalove plot with a boy who has made a mistake. I also didn't feel any ounce of the chemistry that was supposed to make Sierra have this instant connection to him in the first place. Caleb didn't stand out for me, not even with his troubled backstory. There was nothing about his personality that made me think 'ah, this is why she's so smitten'.

The great thing about this story was Sierra's family and friends. The relationship she had with her parents was believable and sweet, and I wish we could see more daughter/parent relationships like this one in YA. Her parents were cautious, but not too overprotective. Whilst they were wary about Sierra, they eventually came to allow her to do things her way. Sierra had a wonderful set of friends, both at the tree farm and at home. What I wasn't pleased to see was Sierra hurting her friends for the sake of Caleb, a boy she'd known for just days. All of the friends in this story had more potential than what we were shown of them. I would've like to have seen their characters expanded on more, but since the story was only a short one, there wasn't much opportunity.

This was a cutesy Christmas romance, but since romance was the focus of it, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a better love story than the one I was given. For me, the spark between Sierra and Caleb just wasn't enough light a fire, and I found myself way more interested in the characters and things going on around them.

Royal Rating:

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