Joelene Reviews: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
It is the first day of school and seventeen year old Lucille’s mother has not come home. She has been gone for two weeks. On some level, Lucille has been preparing herself for this. So she gets her nine year old sister Wren ready, packs lunch and gets them both to their respective schools.
As time progresses, bills come in, and food runs low, Lucille realises that she’s going to have to figure everything out herself if she’s going to keep Wren out of the foster system. With the help of her best friend, Eden, she might just be able to look after Wren, get a job, navigate her final year of high school and keep her mother’s absence a secret from anyone who might pry.
This Raging Light is Estelle Laure’s debut novel. Bel and I received a free copy at the Hachette Date-a-Book night, and the Hachette team were so enthusiastic about the writing style, characters and narrative that I read it on the plane trip home. Their praise for the novel was entirely justified. Raging Light is lyrical, intense and enchanting; with a writing style and pace so deftly handled that it’s hard to believe it is a debut novel.
Characters sell the story in Raging Light. Told in first person from Lucille’s perspective, readers are there for the ups and downs and for the terrifying doubts. The uncertainty of whether Lucille can make it through and the anxiety about how the situation is affecting her sensitive sister are rendered with stunning emotional accuracy; as are the emotions behind Lucille’s crush and her friendships. Lucille’s best friend, Eden, was my favourite part of Raging Light. Her philosophy on life, people and human nature is unique and takes readers into some of the more in depth areas of the novel.
Despite liking Lucille and her narrative voice, it bothers me how little empathy she had for her mother. It seems as though her mother looked after everyone until she left, yet Lucille never considers what her mother’s state of mind might have been as much as she wonders how her mother could have done what she did to them. It doesn’t occur to her that almost being murdered might undo a person. Nor does she wonder whether the night her mother almost died was the first night she had been attacked.
While the premise of this novel is all too believable for many teens across the world, This Raging Light is more a light-hearted flight of fantasy than a gritty slice of reality. Wren and Lucille might be in an awful predicament; but, they have initially come from a reasonably charmed life. They have aspirations and goals and, despite their circumstances, don’t give up on trying to attain them. For a beautifully crafted feel-good read, you can’t go past This Raging Light.
This Raging Light – Estelle Laure
Hachette (January 7, 2015)