This book cover image released by Razorbill shows "What Light," the latest book by Jay Asher, his first solo work of fiction in nearly a decade. The book is set for release on Oct. 11, 2016. (Razorbill via AP)

What Light – Jay Asher – Razorbill – Published 11 October 2016



Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

My thoughts

After just finishing a book set during winter, I was primed for another, feel-good wintry Chrismas story which is exactly what I got in What Light. This is a fun, light, romantic story.

Every Christmas Sierra’s family relocates to California for the holidays to sell Christmas trees. It means a whole new set of friends, a new school and a moderately warm Christmas away from her snowy home in Oregon. But this might be their last. Sierra doesn’t want this family tradition to end, nor does she want to say a final goodbye to her friend, Hannah. It’s also why she is reluctant to start anything romantic with the good looking and charming Caleb. But Caleb’s intrigue (and dimples) might be too much to resist, despite the many people who want to warn her away from Caleb and his shadowy past.

At its heart this is a simple romance. Caleb’s past isn’t that big of a deal and he certainly isn’t any sort of bad boy, despite his outcast status in town. The romance between Caleb and Sierra is very sweet and lots of fun, despite a few eye-roll-worthy lines. This book might be a little cheesy, but still very enjoyable.

I enjoyed Sierra’s friendships, with both her Oregon and California friends. I also liked how close and supportive her family was. Sierra loves what her family does, loves her family’s Christmas tree farm, loves the tree lot, loves helping out and most especially loves the trees themselves. This positivity bleeds through and provides a wonderful warmth and comfort to the story. It was nice to read a protagonist who wasn’t in constant angst or rebellion against her family or heritage. I also liked learning about how Christmas trees are farmed and sold.

What Light is a light and enjoyable book, with just hints of tension, much different from Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Family, Christmas, romance, love, dating and relationships, Christmas trees, Christmas tree farms, friendship, rumours, social issues.

Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.

Advisory: None

Published: 11 October 2016 by Razorbill.

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 256 pages.

ISBN: 9781595145512

Find it on Goodreads