Thursday, May 30, 2019

This Raging Light, written by Laurie Estelle, reviewed by Stephanie Wilson

Lucille's life is falling apart. Her dad went crazy and her mom's "two-week vacation" stretches into months without contact. Lucille is left to raise her younger sister Wren, find a way to provide for them, and keep anyone from finding out. Just when Lucille thinks her life can't get any more complicated, she falls in love with her best friend's twin brother, Digby. Digby already has a serious long-term girlfriend. Laure has created a heartfelt novel teens will love. Lucille is tough, funny and resilient but far from perfect.

Lucille serves as both narrator and protagonist. Lucille longs for connection and someone to confide in. She keeps everyone, including her best friend, at arm’s length because she fears being separated from Wren. Laure's writing mirrors the tension Lucille feels as she struggles to keep it together. Wren’s optimism provides the perfect counterpoint to Lucille’s despair. Wren believes things will get better because of her youth and inexperience. Wren watches cooking shows and plans elaborate meals in an attempt to restore a bit of normalcy to their lives. The characters are well rounded and even the minor characters are memorable.

The plot moves at a rapid-fire pace, which increases its readability. This Raging Light’s format features shorter chapters with chapter headings, which clarifies when the action occurs. Some of the chapters are flashbacks to past events and the rest unfold in real time. The dramatic life events will appeal to readers looking for a story with an edge. The novel is best suited for more mature readers. It contains romantic elements, skipping school, references to alcohol, smoking, domestic abuse and mental illness. This Raging Light could be used in a psychology class to spark discussions about mental illness and analyze the different coping styles of Lucille, Wren and their parents. The novel’s smaller size and readability make it an excellent choice for reluctant or striving readers.

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