Title: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Can the best thing happen at the worst time?
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
Estelle Laure’s debut, This Raging Light, is a fast paced young adult novel with a marvelous cast of appealing characters and an engaging storyline.
Lucille Bennett is surviving her family’s implosion as best she can but with school about to start, she is definitely feeling the pressure. Desperate to ensure she and her younger sister, Wren, stay together, she has not told anyone but her best friend, Eden Jones, about her plight. The last of her money is gone, the bills are piling up and Lucille is running out of options when she lands a job at a local restaurant. When Eden can no longer babysit Wren, her twin brother (and Lucille’s secret crush) Digby steps in to help, but complications ensue when he begins to fall for her as well.
Lucille has managed to keep it together pretty well in the months after her family fell apart. However, stress is definitely taking its toll on both her and Wren, but for her sister’s sake, Lucille maintains tight control of her emotions. Although well out of her comfort zone initially, her new job turns into a surprising source of comfort as she lets go of worries during her shifts. But she trades one concern for another after a blow up with Eden puts them at odds. Lucille is grateful for Digby’s offer to help her but she cannot help but feel guilty when they begin sneaking around behind his girlfriend’s back.
Ahh, Digby. A genuinely nice guy who is torn between his commitment to his longtime girlfriend and his newly awakened feelings for Lucille. This situation is surprisingly sympathetic but this does not negate the fact that both he and Lucille were wrong to begin acting on their feelings before his other relationship is resolved. Despite his indecision, Digby is there for Lucille and this definitely counts in his favor.
Which brings us to Eden, Lucille’s best friend forever who, for inexplicable reasons, abandons Lucille when she needs her most. Unsure exactly what caused the rift between them, Lucille nonetheless reaches out to her but sadly, Eden rebuffs her overtures. While her co-workers fill some the gaps left by Eden’s absence, Lucille is not willing to lose her best friend too and she keeps trying to repair their tattered friendship. Eden’s reasons for staying away are a little weak, but Lucille is more than willing to forgive and forget.
Despite its slightly unrealistic storyline, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure is a well-written young adult story that is remarkably free from angst. The characters are likable and sympathetic despite their flaws and the emotions they experience ring true. The plot is engrossing and although not everything is neatly wrapped up, the novel’s conclusion is uplifting. All in all, an enjoyable debut that will appeal to readers of all ages.