This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: December 22nd 2015
So YA has the recurring theme of the main character having only one of their parents, or having a terrible family life, but for Lucille, it's much worse - her dad's in an institution and her mom's skipped town, making her the caretaker of her younger sister, Wren. This coming-of-age novel makes Lucille a pretty relatable character, in the sense that she's trying to take on the world without any adult interference. Or rather, any interference. Even when her friends try to help her, she doesn't want to seem helpless. And she certainly isn't, pulling through many months without either of her parents. Her strength and perseverance were admirable qualities. Though there were a few times her lashing out against her friends for helping was a bit... Out of place. They were only trying to help, and yet she gets annoyed with them. What gives, Lucille?
But I did like how Laure dealt with growing up, placing Lucille and many of the characters in situations where they either had to face reality or lose something very important to them. Even if some of the characters were still struggling by the end of the book, they were at least trying to make progress. Issues like ending up in foster care or being separated and abuse were handled in a great way, and I love how Lucille persevered through all of this, proving to be more adult than her own mother and father.
I'm glad there was more of a focus on all of these issues instead of the romance. The romance itself felt misplaced and unneeded. Sure, Digby is drawn to those who are helpless/in need of help, but if he was already dating Elaine (and I literally forgot who she was when she was introduced the first time), and he realized all the stuff Lucille was going through, why did he push through with kissing Lucille? The romance was just 'there'. With all the drama going on with Eden and Lucille, it didn't feel needed.
Still, This Raging Light struck me as a one of those meaningful books about family and friendship. And how to cope with secrets. I may not have the same problems as Lucille, but I understood what she was going through, and Laure wrote some close-to-home passages -
"Secrets are bad news. Everybody has them, I think. Or they have things they don't want to share about themselves, things they aren't ready to tell. Some things stay special longer when they're private. But some other things, they get rotten when you can't say, and me asking you to keep secrets, even for a good cause... well I don't think it's right for you."
Laure's prose juxtaposed between serious and lighthearted, and if you're looking for something that will resonate with you on friendships and family and secrets, this is the book for you.