What Light comes from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jay Asher of Thirteen Reasons, which automatically intrigued me. Especially since this is a Young Adult romance that embraces true love, redemption, and even optimism. In short, What Light is an old-fashioned romantic tale about two teenagers who fall in love during the Christmas season. Only there are many obstacles that might keep them apart.
Sierra is a high school junior who lives on a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. During the Christmas season, however, her family temporarily relocates each year to California to sell the trees. So, she lives two lives and has two sets of friends. But this year is different as her family may not afford to keep the store running in California after this season. So, with her family’s business in trouble, romance is the last thing on her mind. That is until she meets Caleb. A young man who works hard and uses his money to buy Christmas trees for the less fortunate. Immediately, she’s drawn to him.
Soon, a romance develops between the two. But not without complications. She learns he has a bad reputation in the town for a mistake he made a few years earlier. And, to be honest, the “mistake” is rather shocking and unsettling. However, Sierra sees Caleb for who he is now and believes in the power of forgiveness and transformation. But can true love overcome all the obstacles in their way?
One aspect I loved about the novel was the setting. Now this love, I admit is completely for nostalgic reasons. Like Sierra, my family seasonally ran a Christmas store. We didn’t sell trees but we did sell everything else Christmas. Even now, each year doesn’t quite feel like Christmas without the store. My senior year of high school was our final year. So, I guess you could say I could relate to Sierra in a unique way.
I also appreciated that Asher unabashedly embraces old-fashioned romance and first love in a non-cynical way. Asher is a wonderful writer and the characters are engaging and the story (while simple) makes for a quick, entertaining read perfect during this winter season.
Still, this novel may not be for everyone. Caleb’s “mistake” may make some readers uncomfortable. It was an odd mistake on Asher’s part to choose for the character. But if, like Sierra, you can get past the imagery of Caleb’s past, then you should be able to enjoy this romantic tale of transformation. I know I did.
Overall, while the book has a few slow moments, if you’re in the mood for a sweet holiday romance, then What Light makes for a wonderful choice.
This book would make a delightful Hallmark film during their Christmas movie season. With old-fashioned romance, redemption, and even a Christmas tree store as a setting, this book has the perfect elements for a successful Hallmark film.
You can buy What Light on Amazon.
Content Note: PG like content due to the descriptions of mild violence. No profanity or explicit content.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”