I loved Jay Asher’s two previous books so I couldn’t wait to dig into his new novel, What Light. One of the things I noticed right off the bat is that the story has an incredible sense of place. I feel like I am at the gorgeous Christmas tree farm in Oregon and in her family’s trailer when they sell their trees during the holiday season in California. Sierra has two lives in a sense. She lives in Oregon on her parent’s Christmas tree farm. Each year at Thanksgiving they move to California for the holiday season to sell their trees at the same lot her grandparents ran many years ago. Sierra has a best friend in California she looks forward to seeing every year. Heather decides that Sierra needs a winter romance, but Sierra wants no part of it until she sees Caleb. Caleb has a dark past that has made him a bit of a pariah in his small town. But Sierra knows there is more to his story and sees the sadness in his eyes. At the same time Sierra’s parents are struggling with the economic challenges of opening the tree lot each year which would end their holiday tradition. This is a beautiful story of love and forgiveness. It gave me the warm fuzzies with its holiday atmosphere. I highly recommend this one on your holiday reading list. This is one of my favorite reads of 2016.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Discuss how Sierra’s life is different in Oregon her time in California.
What makes Caleb more appealing to Sierra than Andrew?
Discuss what it would mean to have a vocation that you loved the way Sierra’s parents love their farm and seeing the customers faces as they pick out their favorite tree.
Discuss that moment where Caleb realizes Sierra has heard something about him.
Discuss how their relationship unfolds. How did Sierra and Caleb change each other’s lives?
Discuss how rumors can affect someone’s life.
Discuss Caleb’s relationship with his former best friend and how his family acted around him.
What do you think is next for Caleb and Sierra?