Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you're dead. 
Though I could not feel paper between my fingers, smell ink, or taste the tip of a pencil, I could see and hear the world with all the clarity of the Living. They, on the other hand, did not see me as a shadow or a floating vapor. To the Quick, I was empty air. Or so I thought. In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen terrified, but intrigued is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.
I've read nothing but rave reviews about A Certain Slant of Light and once I finished this quick read, I could see why. The love story that quickly develops between James, inhabiting the body of Billy, and Helen, inhabiting Jenny's body made the plot move quickly and in a direction mostly romantic. But in my opinion, the great part of this book laid with the issues it lightly touched on later in the book. As Jenny's strictly religious family responds to Helen in Jenny's body, many complications set in. For James, his emotional attachment to Billy's brother, Mitch, impairs him from doing what he wants with Helen. A lot of theological questions are asked, and at times I felt this was more of an adult book than a young adult novel. The graphic sexual scenes made it feel even more like it had been shelved wrong, but I'm a fan of telling teens all the gritty details and making YA fiction more realistic. The troubling questions raised by Helen and jenny's family probe into something a lot deeper and darker than a simple ghost story. I loved the way Helen described the sensations she felt as she became part of the living, or 'Quick' as she calls them, again. And the ending left tears in my eyes. I know some of my friends hate endings that leave it up to you what really happened, but it seemed perfectly fitting at the end of this story. In the end, i don't really know what genre this book should really go under. Was it Christianity-based? A ghost story? A theological argument? A love story? Any way you take it, A Certain Slant of Light was thought-provoking and deep in just the right way.
5 stars (jeez, I need a rant soon) and a recommendation to readers looking for a deep read. This book will stay with you for a while after you're finished.


jewelknits said...

Thanks for the review. My Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn is a YA and romance fan, but I've found that she really doesn't care for books with lots of overtly sexual scenes in them, so this may not be for us, although the plotline IS an interesting one!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

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