Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Review: The Light We Lost

By Melissa Amster

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I was conflicted on how many stars to give this novel. It was extremely well-written and engaging. I listened to the audio version and I loved how Jill Santopolo’s voice fit her character so well. She made the story feel effortless to listen to and I just breezed through the seven hours. However, there were things that bothered me about the premise of the story, which I’ll discuss in the spoilers section. All I can tell you is that it’s very easy to get into this novel and stay focused the entire time. Lucy is a relatable character and since we both entered the adult world somewhat close in time, it brought back memories of what I was doing during certain years. I also feel an emotional connection to September 11th, even though I wasn’t anywhere near where the disaster was unfolding. (This is not a spoiler since it happens at the beginning of the novel.)

Jill’s descriptions of characters and settings made it seem like I was right in the middle of New York City with Lucy, following her through all her experiences. I had heard a lot of great buzz about this novel, but was hesitant to read it because it was being compared to One Day by David Nicholls. However, it is nothing like One Day and I'm glad I finally gave it a chance to prove that. It was well worth the listen! Even though this novel has the potential to earn five stars, the most I could give is 4.5, but you'll have to read it and come back so we can discuss what is in the spoilers below.

But first...casting!
Lucy: Odette Annable
Gabe: Jackson Rathbone
Darren: Jason Ritter
Kate: Beth Behrs

Now for the spoilers.....(be aware that there may be some in the comments section, as well).

Keep going.....

I didn't really know what to expect from this novel, but the big wrench in the relationship between Lucy and Gabe was that Lucy got married to someone else. And I really liked her relationship with Darren. It felt similar to my own relationship and marriage. So it was easy for me to get annoyed with Lucy for staying emotionally attached to Gabe and for also looking for an excuse to cheat on Darren with him. I was not invested in the relationship between Lucy and Gabe once it had ended. She seemed to enjoy rubbing her new relationship in his face and took some secret joy in none of his relationships lasting as long as hers did.

So when we got to the tragic situation, I didn't cry at all. First of all, Gabe was brain-dead by the time Lucy got to see him and he technically had an advanced directive in his will, even though there was some glitch that put Lucy in charge of such a big decision. So I don't feel like she actually killed him. His career and being in the wrong place at the wrong time did that. I was mostly annoyed that her tryst with him caused her third pregnancy and that she was still so fixated on him after he died that she didn't even talk about her love for her actual husband in her letter to her yet-to-be-born son. It seemed like she was planning to go through the motions of marriage after that.

Maybe I'm riled up because Jill Santopolo is that good of a writer that she puts her main character in such a complex situation. There were times where I was annoyed with her husband over something he said or did (like how it was important for him to work, but Lucy should stay home after having kids) but even so, Gabe also put his career over Lucy's. Gabe was also way too dependent on Lucy for emotional support. He ended things with her to go overseas. It wasn't fair to Lucy or her marriage and children that Gabe kept showing up.

I'm glad to hear your thoughts on this if you've read it already. I'm just sharing from the perspective of someone happily married who has put their exes completely in their past (except for one, with whom it was a mutual decision to stay platonic friends).


The Book Sage said...

A 4.5/5 is pretty darn good. But I deliberately read the spoilers so that I would have an excuse not to rad it. After all, it's not a 5/5! Good review.

Anonymous said...

I just finished this book yesterday and I am so irritated by the ending. It seems like a cop-out ... like the author didn’t know how to end it either so she just leaves us hanging. While I liked and appreciated all the characters (I read one review where the person had deep hatred for them!!), I found Lucy to be so emotionally immature. Gabe did not “have it all” bc he was lacking in one important capability: to stay with her. That would be my end game. But she keeps looking for him, despite her wonderful husband ... which brings me back to the ending - what on earth happens??? Does Lucy tell Darren and crush him?? Does she not tell him? So annoying. The author just should have not had her become pregnant - it complicated the plot and then left the reader hanging with a poor ending. Otherwise though I liked the book, enjoyed the writing and the characters ... just hated how it ends.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine told me that I needed to read this book. She left it on my desk at work one day with a sticky note saying "have you found your light?. After reading the first few chapters I was already crying. I realized that this book closely resembles a past relationship with someone who I loved and will continue to love dearly in so many ways. I completely understand the internal struggle that Lucy is experiencing throughout the entire book. No love no matter how great would compare to her love with Gabe. She loved Darren, that love just felt different and that is difficult to understand if you have not experienced a love like hers and Gabe's. I think this book was excellent. The entire time I was thinking of my "Gabe" and wondering if I have made the right decisions within my life as well. As for the ending, I would have liked to know what happened. But maybe that is just it. We aren't meant to know what happened, just like Lucy wasn't meant to know what would have happened if she told Gabe to come home or if she went with him.