This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Publication Date: 22 December 2015
Publisher: Hachette Children’s
Can the best thing happen at the worst time?
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
When I received the opportunity to read and review This Raging Light a few weeks before official publication, I was excited. It sounded a little different to other YA story lines and I couldn’t wait for my next train journey to read it.
When her mother deserts them and leaves them with just $100, Lucille, our protagonist, has to quickly learn how to be the “grown up” in her life; looking after her sister and making sure there’s enough food on the table and bills are paid. With all that going on her in life, she also has to deal with an unrequited crush on her best friend’s brother, Digby.
Let’s talk about the tone of the novel. It was rather strange. I found it quite… “dreamy”? There were times where I had no idea what was happening in the story. It bounced between the past and the present, and I lost my understanding of what was going on too many times. An example:
“Your yard looks nice,” he says.
“So they tell me,” I say.
Touch me. Kiss me. I’m yours. Yours.
I know he won’t though. He would not cheat.
I like his shoes. Vans. His long feet.
Well you know what they say about big feet… big hands.
Now then. This love story between Lucille and Digby (what a name). It felt so wrong. She has a crush on her best friend’s brother. He has a girlfriend. So far, a standard storyline in YA. They interact awkwardly a few times, and then…. they suddenly can’t keep their hands off each other. *blinks in disbelief* Digby doesn’t end things with his girlfriend, nor does he offer to. Why would he? He’s having his cake and eating it here. His girlfriend finds out but yet Digby and Lucille still continue their “relationship”. His girlfriend doesn’t seem to end things with Digby either. Girls! What are you doing!? Dump him! Dump him now! Digby is one of the biggest fuckboys I’ve ever read in fiction and I can’t believe there are some readers that like him. *shakes head disapprovingly*
The sub plot regarding Lucille’s parents was rather odd. Her father was in a mental institution after *ahem* ATTACKING their mother. After this event, Lucille’s mother abandoned both her and her sister, leaving them with little money to survive. She didn’t seem to call, email, write a letter or ANYTHING to let her children know she was ok. Dare I say, she didn’t even contact them to see if they were ok. There was no explanation of where the mother went or why in much detail. Sadly, this aspect of the novel was left unresolved. I know, I know – not everything in life is resolved… but a little explanation would have been nice.
I know there is an emerging trend in YA for “flawed” characters, but I struggled to like, empathise or connect with any of the characters in This Raging Light. They were all rather unlikeable. There was real no character development. During the highest point of tension in the novel, I still couldn’t fathom much sympathy for any of the characters.
I so badly wanted to love This Raging Light but I just couldn’t. I have to say I’m confused as to the overall message of the novel. I didn’t feel anything when I finished it, apart from surprise that I read it so quickly. (just under 2 hours in case you were wondering….) I think This Raging Light will either have truly devoted fans, or people who didn’t “get it”… just with any book really. *shrugs*
What was the last book you read that left you feeling disappointed?