March 20, 2018

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When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas | SLJ Review

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redstarTHOMAS, Leah. When Light Left Us. 400p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681191812.

Gr 8 Up –A compelling, character-driven, and imaginative novel. The Vasquez children have a gaping hole in their hearts; but the summer after their father leaves them, they are visited by Luz (an alien), and the hole is filled. Now the school year is here, Luz is gone, and they are much worse than before. In the aftermath of this devastation, the eldest son has broken up with his boyfriend, the daughter can’t stop self-harming, and the youngest son is having difficulty hearing. This is a story about a family’s encounter with an alien being, but, it’s not your usual science fiction romp; it’s a slow-paced, emotional drama. The story starts in mystery; who was this alien and where did he go? As the novel unfolds, the questions build and the tone grows dark. As readers discover more about each Vasquez family member, they learn troubling secrets and impossible truths. Overall, this is a novel about coping with loss and family dysfunction. What makes it stand out is Thomas’s talent of bringing intimacy, thoughtfulness, and a sense of wonder to her writing. ­VERDICT For fans of Patrick Ness and Lauren Oliver, this is a must buy.–Melanie Leivers, Palm Beach Country Library System, FL

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2017 issue.

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