Book Review: What Light by Jay Asher

What LightWhat Light by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from this book but what I got was a sweet Christmas romance about second chances, trusting your instincts and going all in. The characters are likeable, real and best of all mature and sensible, something all too rare in teen romances.

I loved main character Sierra from the very beginning of this story. She’s lived two lives for as long as she can remember, spending 11 months of the year at the family’s Christmas tree farm in Oregon and the month before Christmas selling them from a lot in California. She has two sets of friends and while a lot of teenagers would probably resent moving away for a month every year she loves it. She has a healthy relationship with her parents, there are no screaming matches, and she loves the traditions of the holidays and helping out in the family business.

Sierra also has what I would consider a great approach to relationships. While her friends are boy crazy she’s not desperately looking for love. She doesn’t want to be one of those girls who’s dragged down by a guy. At the first sign of trouble she’s out, something I found refreshingly wonderful.

That all changes however when she meets Caleb who comes on to the lot to buy a tree. She’s instantly smitten and considering ditching her boy ban when best friend Heather tells her he’s not the guy for her. Yep, Caleb has a troubled past and a bad reputation in town. He’s shunned by almost everyone but Sierra sees something worth going for despite the fact any relationship seems doomed.

The whole good girl, boy with a troubled past has been done to death and this should seem like all of the others but actually it’s not. There’s something very likeable and very sweet about it. Yes, Caleb does have a reputation but this isn’t a case of love being blind as Sierra goes in with her eyes very much open. She doesn’t overlook all his problems but sets out to understand them and face them.

The writing is very readable and I think I devoured the whole thing in a couple of days (I had to go to work and sleep). The descriptions were wonderful and it felt like I was there on the tree lot, at the top of a hill in the dark, drinking hot chocolate with peppermint candy canes or attending the Christmas parade. It most definitely put me in the holiday spirit.

It does have it’s sugary sweet moments which I loved (I’m a sucker for a Christmas romance) but it’s thoughtful and mature with some real emotion. It didn’t hurt that I fell a little bit in love with Caleb.

Definitely a read I’d recommend if you’re looking for a Christmas romance that’s sweet, funny and mature.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a review.

Blurb (from GoodReads)

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

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 is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

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