What Light Review

Thursday, 7 December 2017


By Jay Asher
Rating: 4/5
Source: Waterstones

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.

What Light was the Northern Bloggers book of the month so I picked it up in November and of course waited until the very last minute to actually read it. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it if I'm being honest, I'm still on a high after It Only Happens In The Movies in which cheesy romance is stepped all over, but What Light was a really sweet Christmassy read with flawed, realistic characters.

Sierra is a fussy girl when it comes to boys, or so her friends constantly tell her, which I totally relate to. Not because you have to have high standards, I know I don't, but because relationships are hard work, so it only makes sense that you’d want to wait for someone special to make you want to take that step out of single life. Enter Caleb. 

Caleb is cute, fun but comes with so much baggage that a lot of people wouldn’t give him the time of day. The rumours about him reach the whole school and surrounding areas for a start. Sierra only visits California at Christmas time, so she has avoided said rumours and has just enough time to become interested in Caleb before she hears them. 

For once I liked both characters. I normally lean more towards the more obnoxious character because at least they have a personality, but in this case Sierra is a headstrong girl who wants her families Christmas tree lot (this was the best part of the book and I now want to own/work on a Christmas tree lot) to survive more than anything and Caleb is so haunted by his past that you can see that he's a three demential character.

It is of course a Christmas whirlwind romance that isn't entirely realistic, but if my parents met on a Christmas tree lot and eventually lived happily ever after, I'd probably be extra invested in a boy I met the same way. 

While Sierra is falling in love, her California best friend, Heather, is falling out of love with her boyfriend, Devon. I really liked this parallel and it made for some really nostalgic best friend conversations, I remember the struggles of teen dating. Heather and Devon had some brilliant  sarcastic exchanges and I think you needed this other dynamic to even out the soppiness coming from Sierra and Caleb. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy both aspects of romance equally. 

So we have young love with an expiration date because Sierra goes home to Oregon on Christmas morning. If you throw in some over protective parents and then Caleb's rocky past, you’ve got a recipe for heartbreak. Can Sierra and Caleb defy the odds and make things work? 

What light by Jay Asher is a cozy read about first love, trusting your instincts and the power of Christmas. I know Christmas can be busy and reading a book at not be on your list of things to do, but this is a short book with less than 250 pages so if you can find a spare afternoon, you won’t regret it.

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