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What Light

Cover of What Light

What Light

by Jay Asher
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THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a holiday romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing in love again. . . .

"A beautiful story of love and forgiveness."
—Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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.
What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
From the Hardcover edition.
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a holiday romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing in love again. . . .

"A beautiful story of love and forgiveness."
—Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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.
What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • Kindle Book
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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.5
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG+
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    CHAPTER ONE

    "I hate this time of year," Rachel says. "I'm sorry, Sierra. I'm sure I say that a lot, but it's true."

    Morning mist blurs the entrance of our school at the far end of the lawn. We stay on the cement pathway to avoid damp spots in the grass, but Rachel's not complaining about the weather.

    "Please don't do this," I say. "You'll make me cry again. I just want to get through this week without—"

    "But it's not a week!" she says. "It's two days. Two days until Thanksgiving break, and then you leave for a whole month again. More than a month!"

    I hug Rachel's arm as we continue walking. Even though I'm the one leaving for another holiday season far from home, Rachel pretends like it's her world that gets turned upside-down
    each year. Her pouty face and slumped shoulders are entirely for my benefit, to let me know I'll be missed, and every year I'm grateful for her melodrama. Even though I love where I'm going, it's still hard to say goodbye. Knowing my best friends are counting the days until I return does make it easier.

    I point to the tear in the corner of my eye. "Do you see what you did? They're starting."

    This morning, when Mom drove us away from our Christmas tree farm, the sky was mostly clear. The workers were in the fields, their distant chainsaws buzzing like mosquitoes, cutting down this year's crop of trees.

    The fog came in as we drove lower. It stretched across the small farms, over the interstate, and into town, carrying within it the traditional scent of the season. This time of year our entire little Oregon town smells like fresh-cut Christmas trees. At other times, it might smell like sweet corn or sugar beets.

    Rachel holds open one of the glass double doors and then follows me to my locker. There, she jiggles her glittery red watch in front of me. "We've got fifteen minutes," she says. "I'm cranky and I'm cold. Let's grab some coffee before the first bell."

    The school's theater director, Miss Livingston, not-so-subtly encourages her students to drink as much caffeine as needed to get their shows together on time. Backstage, a pot of coffee is always on. As the lead set designer, Rachel gets unrestricted access to the auditorium.

    Over the weekend, the theater department finished their performances of Little Shop of Horrors. The set won't be broken down until after Thanksgiving break, so it's still up when Rachel and I turn on the lights at the back of the theater. Sitting on the stage, between the flower shop counter and the big, green, man-eating plant, is Elizabeth. She sits up straight and waves when she sees us.

    Rachel walks ahead of me down the aisle. "This year, we wanted to give you something to take with you to California."

    I follow her past the empty rows of red cushioned seats. They obviously don't care if I'm a blubbering mess during my last few days of school. I climb the steps to the stage. Elizabeth pushes herself up, runs over, and hugs me.

    "I was right," she tells Rachel over my shoulder. "I told you she'd cry."

    "I hate you both," I tell them.

    Elizabeth hands me two presents wrapped in shiny silver Christmas paper, but I already kind of know what they're giving me. Last week, we were all in a gift shop downtown and I saw them looking at picture frames the same size as these boxes. I sit down to open them and lean against the counter under the old-fashioned metal cash register.

    Rachel sits cross-legged in front of me, our knees almost touching.

    "You're breaking the rules," I say. I slide a finger beneath a fold in the wrapping of the first gift. "We're not supposed to do this...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 8, 2016
    Sierra is the daughter of Christmas tree farmers from Oregon. Every holiday season she travels to California to help her mother and father sell their harvest. Sierra’s parents fell in love at the lot while they were still in high school, and her father, afraid that she might fall for one of the seasonal hires, imposes strict dating rules to protect her. For the past few seasons, Sierra hasn’t minded—the rules keep boys she isn’t interested in at bay—but that changes when she meets Caleb, a boy with a troubled past. The more Sierra learns about Caleb’s generous spirit, the harder she falls. But Caleb’s past is soon discovered, putting their relationship at risk. This light romance from bestselling author Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) is just dramatic enough to give readers a reason to keep turning pages despite the story’s overall predictability. Charming and sweet, Sierra and Caleb’s budding relationship should suit readers looking for a wintertime romance that’s as cozy (and familiar) as candy canes and gingerbread during the holidays. Ages 12–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Love, hope, and forgiveness are under the tree this Christmas.From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Sierra and her parents move from their Oregon tree farm to their sale lot in California. Though Sierra usually eschews involvement with local boys, this year, Heather, her California pal, is determined that Sierra indulge in a "holiday love affair." Enter Caleb of the adorable dimple, and it's blush at first sight. However, Caleb has a back story: years ago, he went after his sister with a knife. Troublingly, the revelation doesn't scare Sierra; she thinks Caleb must be good now--after all, he buys Christmas trees for people who can't afford them. Sierra's decision to skip a best friend's holiday play in order to be with Caleb may also have readers grinding their teeth. A subplot reveals that Heather doesn't want to break up with her boyfriend because she needs to feel that he wants her. The sexism runs both ways: the novel's main theme is that of boy-needs-girl-to-make-him-see-he's-worthy-of-forgiveness. Neither characters nor book seem to question the retrograde nature of these relationships and assumptions. While most ethnicities are unnamed, leaving readers to infer that characters are probably white, there are two secondary characters of color: Mrs. Trujillo, a recipient of Caleb's Christmas trees, and local mean girl Christy Wang. Though apparently titled for the line from Romeo and Juliet, this second solo outing for the author of Thirteen Reasons Why is not a love story for the ages. (Fiction. 13-18) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2016

    Gr 7 Up-Sierra has grown up on her family's Christmas tree farm in Oregon, and for as long as she can remember, she has always lived two lives around Christmas: every year after Thanksgiving, her parents pack up their trailer and drive down to California to sell Christmas trees at their lot for the month of December. Even though her parents met as teens on the same lot, her father doesn't want her dating any of the boys who work there. Sierra is OK with this, figuring that she's not there long enough for a romance to be worth her time. And then she meets Caleb, a boy with a painful secret from his past that he's still trying to live down. At first, Sierra isn't sure if she should start a relationship with him, but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that some things are worth the risk. This is a sweet, light romance, perfect for holiday reading. While Caleb's secret is awful, it doesn't seem quite bad enough to merit the treatment he receives in his community. Side stories with Sierra's friends add some humor but are overall frothy. VERDICT This is more sugar in your peppermint mocha than you're expecting, but it's good nonetheless. Asher's fans will gravitate toward it.-Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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