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Book Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary, Holiday – Christmas
Published: October 2016
“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 in love again.”
I’ve been meaning to read this book during the holidays because I’ve heard a lot of great comments about it so this was actually in my December TBR but I didn’t get the chance to read it then so I’m reading a Christmas-themed book on January.
“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. Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. But as disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra can’t help but wonder if love really is enough to overcome every obstacle…”
Thoughts and Feelings
If I were to describe in one word what I felt while reading Jay Asher’s What Light, it would be bittersweet. This book made me smile, cry, laugh, and fall in love with the character as well as the story, not to mention break my heart just to mend it right after breaking it and then break it again.
I had to pause several times in the middle of reading because the characters are a lot like the people from my past and I felt happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it reminds me of them and sad because I miss them. This book resonated with me since my life is kind of like Sierra’s where I live two different lives when I’m at school with my friends and when I’m with friends and family at church. Everyone likes a book they can relate with.
Lessons Learned & Realizations
1. Hurt is inevitable.
No matter how hard you protect yourself from hurt, you can never run away from it. It’s inevitable. It’s a consequence of living. A part of human existence. Just like how hard Sierra’s parents tried to protect her heart from being broken, and how much she herself tried to do so too, she was not able to dodge the bullet of hurt that comes with loving someone. When you love, prepare yourself to be hurt because love and hurt come hand in hand.
2. Being brave does not only mean being able to overcome your fears but accepting the reality and moving on from the past is also being brave.
I like how Sierra was brave enough to see beyond the rumours and try to understand Caleb and for seeing him as his present self, seeing beyond his past. I think it’s an important lesson to consider that people can change and that no one deserves to be labeled for the wrong they did in the past.
3. Forgiving oneself is a crucial part of moving on.
For years after the incident of Caleb’s dark past, he still wasn’t able to forgive himself. Even when his sister has already forgiven him, he still felt guilty. Guilty for ruining his mom’s life, his dad’s, his sister’s and most importantly, his life. He has been living under a dark cloud because he blames himself for the grief he has caused his family but when he learned to let go of the past and forgive himself for past decisions and wrongful act, he was finally free of the dark cloud that’s been following him and thus, moved on.
4. People think what they want.
This is a line from the book spoken by Caleb and it had taught me that no matter what you do be it good or not, people will always have something to say about it positive or negative and that you can’t force people to think a certain way just because you want them to. You just have to learn to live with it.
“People think what they want. That’s what I’ve had to accept.”
“You really think it would work for them? I don’t want to be cynical, but two lives, two sets of friends, two different states? The odds are against them from the beginning.”
“You don’t have to trust him, just don’t judge him. And trust me.”
“Every time I give Caleb the benefit of the doubt, he proves himself. Every time I stand up for him, I know I’m right. There have been a million reasons why I could have given up, but everytime I don’t, it makes me want to try that much harder to make us work.”