Wednesday, November 23, 2022

We are the Light by Matthew Quick

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 256 pages
Published: November 2021

I held high hopes for my latest Book of the Month selection. Written by the same author who wrote the critically-acclaimed book turned movie, Silver Linings Playbook, We are the Light touches on some of the same themes of Matthew Quick’s earlier popular book. In the quaint community of Majestic, Pennsylvania reeling and trying to heal after a mass shooting at a local theater, we find Lucas, the main character deep in grief after an unimaginable tragedy and the abrupt and involuntary end of his relationship with his Jungian analyst, Karl. The book is told in epistolary format as Lucas writes unanswered letters to Karl. In the midst of these letters, the reader learns that Eli, the brother of the mass shooter, has taken up residence by pitching a tent in Lucas' backyard. This circumstance creates an opportunity for Lucas to help Eli in the aftermath of this tragedy. 

The book is relatively short, but there is a level of complexity and a large cast of detailed characters that make it a slower read. The heavy themes of grief,  tragedy, abusive relationships, anger, spirituality and gun-control are a lot to process. Additionally, because of the format in which the story is told, there isn't much room for dialogue and the narrator (Lucas) comes off as a bit of a rambler. I am not sure if that's the challenging writing style or if it is done on purpose so that the reader can sense the same despair as the main character. Finally, the aspect of Jungian therapy didn't resonate with me. I don't know if this is because I don't know a lot about it or it's too complex of a therapy method to cram into a ~250-page novel. 

Overall, I found this book to be promising, but I think I read it at the wrong time. I was looking for something lighter to begin closing out the year, even bypassing a book about suicide, to read this one because I thought there would be a little more light at the end of the tunnel. While the ending did create a bit of a lift, it wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked. After listening to Quick's interview on the Virtual Book Tour podcast, I can appreciate that he tried to provide some light for the reader. 

Recommendation: I've said it before, books find us a different times. Sometimes it's the right time, but I think this book wasn't something I was ready to read during the holiday season. If I was a re-reader, I might pick it up again. However, I will chalk this up to a BOTM loss for me. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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