Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: All the Little Lights - Jamie McGuire

All the Little Lights
by Jamie McGuire
Published: May 29, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire comes a riveting tale of first love that starts young but runs deep.

The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.

Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart.

Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.

4 Stars
A coming-of-age story filled with romance and mystery written by the incredible Jamie McGuire? Count me in. All the Little Lights has been at the top of my most-anticipated list since I first heard of it several months ago, so finally having it in my hands is very exciting. Like, so exciting I cracked it open immediately and read it over the course of two days. It's a different sort of novel from Jamie McGuire and though the story isn't entirely unique, it is unique in the way it unfolds and how it is told. Snubbed due to her family's dark history with the small town Catherine is left with few friends and the inability to share what goes on inside the walls of the crumbling mansion turns B&B. Elliott can't escape the racism he faces due to his heritage, but he can be the bigger man and he tries to be for Catherine despite her insistence that he keep away. Told from the perspective of Elliott and Catherine, All the Little Lights tell the story of two students who are anything but ordinary and the discrimination they face growing up in an old-fashioned small town.

Oh my heart, I have such a hard time with bullying and mean girls and reading about it was even worse, because I couldn't do anything for Catherine. Luckily, there is Elliott in this novel and his wise, determined, and strong character rescues her despite her attempts to rebuff him. Of course, he can't save her from everything and that is what makes this novel so great, it's real. Like is said so often on the news, we never know what is going on in someone's home and behind the walls they hide behind and Catherine is such a prime example of this. She works hard in school, she attempts to keep up with all the household duties, she manages to welcome space into her life for Elliott and his push at her having other friends, but she also sags under the weight of the secrets she keeps and the loyalty she has to them. Her past, her present, her beliefs of what her future may be, make this novel very heavy. My heart hurt for her and then for her and Elliott as they faced in-home and out-of-home challenges with their parents and the mean students who had been raised with hate in their hearts. I appreciated the heaviness as well though and Jamie McGuire wrote about the topics perfectly. There is light in this novel though, like their sweet friendship turned relationship and the fierce protectiveness Elliott has for her and really for anyone being picked on. I enjoyed Catherine coming out of her self-made shell and embracing love, laughter, and help for the first time since she was a little girl. The novel is both sweet and mature, the perfect blend for this YA/NA fangirl.

I know, I'm raving about this novel, but I really liked the story of youth being wise beyond their years due to the battles they face growing up. It's so realistic and with all the bullying we see in the world, very relevant. I think Jamie McGuire is brave to take on the subject of discrimination in a small town, because despite the realness of it the world does like to deny it. The mystery too is very realistic and is an unfortunate reality for many, I just wish I hadn't guessed it so early on. I think I've read just one too many books with a similar storyline so it wasn't a big shock to me, however I like that the explanation of the mystery was saved until the very end. It'll leave unsuspecting readers shocked and I think that'll make it an even better novel for them.

All the Little Lights is such a great novel from Jamie McGuire and one that will stay with readers long after the close the cover on the pages. It is novel that embraces the struggles youth face and the hope that life can become what you so want it to be for yourself. I highly recommend this novel and can't wait to hear what others think of it. I'm all for a book club discussion!

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