Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book Review: "The Light We Lost" by Jill Santopolo

"Love does that. It makes you feel infinite and invincible, like the whole world is open to you, anything is achievable, and each day will be filled with wonder. Maybe it's the act of opening yourself up, letting someone else in—or maybe it's the act of caring so deeply about another person that it expands your heart. I've heard so many people say some version of I never knew how much I could love another human being until...I never knew how much I could love another human being until I met you, Gabe."

Lucy and Gabe meet in their senior year at Columbia University, in a Shakespeare seminar, on September 11, 2001. Being in each other's presence when they learn how the world has changed so radically draws them together in a way they never imagined. As they look out on the destruction of the city, they both vow to live a life that has meaning, instead of pursuing a path that only brings them fortune or fame.

It takes a year for the two of them to meet again, but when they do, their relationship immediately intensifies. They are almost inseparable, each pushing the other to pursue their dreams—Lucy pursues a career in children's television, while Gabe wants to become a photojournalist. Their love burns hot, and they cannot imagine being apart. Yet when the next step in Gabe's career is moving to Iraq to take pictures, he doesn't hesitate, leaving Lucy behind to mourn what might have been, and wonder why she wasn't enough to keep him home.

"You were my comfort and my pain all at once."

Lucy does all she can to pull her life back together, even though she longs for no one but Gabe. But eventually she realizes that although they will always be connected, she needs to move on, and some time later she meets Darren. Darren is a few years older than she is, and offers Lucy more stability than Gabe, although without some of the dynamism. As she grows to love Darren, she knows their relationship will never be the same as her and Gabe's, but is a life of steady love better or worse than a life of brief bouts of burning passion?

While both of their lives move on without the other, Gabe and Lucy still find themselves orbiting around each other from time to time, encounters which provoke passion, pain, betrayal, jealousy, grief and, of course, love. Although Lucy and Darren have a wonderful life and she has a successful career, she cannot help but wonder what might have been. And when she makes a snap decision one day, she has no idea where that will lead—and what it will bring for both of their lives.

The Light We Lost, as you can tell from the image I used at the top of my review, is definitely a tearjerker. But beyond the emotions it provokes, it's an interesting and compelling look at the power of first love, and how it can radically change the course of your life. Sure, it's a little melodramatic, and I don't know if we're given enough evidence of just how intense the bond between Lucy and Gabe is to provoke all that occurs in the story, but you still need to know what happens.

Jill Santopolo knows how to draw you into a story and unravel just enough plot to keep you utterly immersed. The book is told with a lot of foreshadowing, but she never gives away everything. This would be a good movie, and it's definitely a good beach read if you don't mind crying in your lounge chair.

They say you never forget a first love. The Light We Lost surely proves that adage!

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to read this. Thanks for the review.