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. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
My heart literally hurt for Caleb, having to live in a town with people who think the worst of him because of one incident in his past where he lost control of his emotions and snapped. When he told Sierra the full story, I understood the why of it all; why he lost control, why he snapped. Coming from someone who buries her emotions rather than letting them out before they can boil over, I understood it, I understood him.
And I loved Sierra’s conflicting feelings about not wanting to like Caleb, but realizing that her heart couldn’t care less what her brain thought and was throwing caution to the wind in regards to logic (because logic has no place in matters of the heart most times), and I understood her pessimism towards their relationship, too. Sierra is more alike her father she probably realized.
Speaking of her dad, though… the one thing I especially loved about this book is the fact that there were honest-to-God parents in it. Parents that actually cared where their kids are at all times; parents who worry about their kids’ hearts when they fall in love for the first time; parents who try their damnedest to prevent you from “making the same mistakes,” but then realizing that it’s not their choice to make and the most they can do is just support their kid and be there for them in their time of eventual heartbreak. I forgot how much I missed reading about “real” parents until this story.
Another thing I loved is that Sierra has three best friends; two in her hometown in Oregon, and then her childhood best friend she sees one month a year in California. We get a look into her “double life,” and neither side is competing against the other. Sierra realizes, constantly, how much she misses one home only to admit that both places are near and dear to her heart. Sierra’s a smart girl, and she knows how to acknowledge the benefits that both places she’s lived in growing up helped shape her instead of hinder her.
The ending left a lot to be desired, in my opinion, but I didn’t hate it. I did like that it ended on a happy note, and that you can fill in the blanks with your own imagination regarding Caleb and Sierra’s relationship (personally, I’m imagining a lot of fumbles with communication, and a lot of tears on both parties, among other things). This book is definitely perfect for the holiday season, and now I kind of wish that I had saved this for Christmas, but I love Jay Asher’s writing so much, it just couldn’t wait.