Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they 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 eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
Review: (Contains some spoilers!)
Well…where do I begin with this book?
Let me just start off with how much I love Thirteen Reasons Why and how it brought so much light to bullying issues among high school students and surfaced many important questions about mental illness.
What Light is the opposite of how enlightening Thirteen Reasons Why was. Oh how I wish I had known this beforehand!
I bought this book on a whim thinking “Jay Asher wrote a new book? Sign me up! This is gonna be fantastic”
Boy, was I wrong. Dead wrong.
Apart from the festive Christmas-y feels which I genuinely enjoyed (even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, it does remind me of the wonderful winter I spent in London back in 2015), this book fell very flat for me. Like, iPhone-drops-on-your-face-flat.
It’s a miracle that I eventually finished this because I thought about DNF-ing this several times (per day).
Though I’m not a huge reader of YA novels, I am well aware of the cliche tropes contained within it. And What Light has the ultimate cliche of nice white girl-next-door falls for dashingly good looking white male teen who, lo and behold, has a troubled past in need of a redemption!
Quite the package isn’t he.
The entire book is about Sierra coming to terms with Caleb’s past and how forgiveness and the holiday spirit brings out the best in everyone, and basically how a Christmas fling is never really a good idea for young people.
There’s not much else to the plot asides Sierra making a stand for herself and proving to her parents of how nice a guy Caleb is. Honestly, I do not understand the extent of her efforts.
Sierra also has some minor high school drama with her friends back home, which was resolved pretty quickly without any issue. And this made me realise how lackluster the plot is surrounding her romance with Caleb. It’s like Jay Asher only thought about Caleb as the main focus of What Light and threw the other characters around to decorate Sierra and Caleb.
Both Sierra and Caleb lack any personality traits I could relate to. I understand how magical first loves can be, and whilst their relationship was pretty well written in the book, everything else was very blunt, including the characters themselves.
I do however admire Sierra’s selectivity in choosing a guy to date but making her fall in love with the troubled and hot dude in town doesn’t really say improve her standing on guys.
Caleb was strangely much affected by how the town treats him because of his past, given how it was years ago and as I recall from various global disasters, humans forget the mistakes of others pretty quickly. So yeah, to see him getting backlash from his community after all this time, sounds a bit surreal to me.
Well tied off although the story was left a bit hanging. I guess that was the point of it. To show that relationships go beyond the endings in books…
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you just absolutely love cliche festive love stories and the YA tropes mentioned above. I do know many people who enjoyed this because of the Christmas-y vibe so give it a go if you want! I definitely hope you’ll enjoy it more than me 😉