Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book Review: "In the Wild Light" by Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner's latest YA novel is a powerful, poignant story about family, friendship, heritage, love, and finding yourself.

This was just excellent! Zentner is one of my absolute favorite YA authors, and this book was another reminder why.

“I’ve seen that life is filled with unimaginable horror. But it’s also threaded through with unimaginable wonder. Live through enough of the one, maybe you’re due some of the other.”

Cash lives in the tiny rural town of Sawyer, Tennessee, raised by his beloved grandparents since his mother died from opioid addiction. He’s content for his life to consist simply of going canoeing on the river, mowing people’s lawns, and spending time with his best friend, Delaney.

When she makes a remarkable scientific discovery locally with Cash’s help, it gets Delaney a full ride to a prestigious Connecticut boarding school, where she’ll finally be challenged academically. She convinces them to award the same opportunity to Cash, since she can’t imagine undertaking this adventure without him.

Cash doesn’t want to ride Delaney’s coattails, and with his grandfather’s emphysema worsening, he fears leaving Tennessee for a life he never imagined. But the thought of Delaney struggling all alone is also too much to bear.

How do you make the choice between those you love? How do you know if going after something you never thought you’d have is worth the risk of losing what you know? How do you find the courage to let people in?

I loved everything about this book. I went to bed with puffy eyes from crying but it was just so good. (And if you love this, definitely read The Serpent King, if not all of Zentner's other books.)

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