A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb

Certainslant-210-expHelen is Light. She died over a hundred years ago and is now only kept out of a personal hell by clinging to one host after another. Invisible to the people around her, she does nothing but watch and try to inspire each new host to do good things. Then, one day, a student in her current host’s classroom looks at her. Sees her. Speaks to her.

James was also Light, haunting a place rather than a person. Then he saw a boy, Billy Blake, and realized the body was empty. Billy’s spirit – miserable, downtrodden, drug-addled – has simply given up and left the body, so James took his place. Now in this body, he can see other spirits like Helen, and he begins to remember his past. As the two fall in love with each other, James helps Helen to take a body as well, which starts them both on a journey of self-discovery.

This is a strange book that seems to be two books in one. First, there is the story of James and Helen, why they are Light, why they aren’t moving on after death, and how they can get to where they’re supposed to go. Then there’s the story of the lives they’ve taken over. They have no memories of the people they become. James is trying to sort out what happened to Billy’s family – a father in jail, a mother in a coma, a brother who’s raising him – and Helen is dealing with a crushingly-religious household as an only child named Jenny. For awhile, the background of James and Helen’s lives take back burner, and the book addresses the oppressive lives that Billy and Jenny both live in.

Normally a two-toned book like this, changing from one story abruptly to the next and then back again near the end, doesn’t work for me, but this one did. The transitions between the stories were very natural so that I never felt like I was suddenly thrust into a new place. I absolutely loved every minute of this book and I couldn’t put it down, staying up way past my bedtime to finish. I loved both stories equally, and I was completely satisfied with the way both of them ended. Whitcomb drew me fully into this world. The writing is beautiful and the story is so much fun. I really enjoyed it.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in 2010, Prose, Young Adult and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb

  1. Pingback: Under the Light, by Laura Whitcomb | The Zen Leaf

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