This Raging Light is a very emotionally driven book. The main character, Lucille, is a seventeen-year-old with a lot on her plate: her father’s dealing with mental health issues, her mother left town and hasn’t come back, and she’s been left alone to take care of her younger sister. All together, the world has just been dumped on Lucille’s shoulders and she’s been left to deal with the consequences of everyone else’s decisions.
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
This is not an easy book to read. Lucille and Wren have gotten an awful roll of the dice of life with their dad’s breakdown and their mother leaving for “two weeks” and not coming back. It’s a heartbreaking situation to read about and one that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It’s so hard to imagine a mother leaving her children all alone, not even calling or updating them on her situation. I felt for both girls and was very impressed with how Lucille managed to keep a positive spin on things for the sake of Wren.
That leads me to my favorite thing about This Raging Light, which was Lucille’s strength and determination to make the best of everything for her younger sister. From prioritizing which bills to pay to getting a job, Lucille does everything she can to keep Wren’s life as stable as possible. They have a very sweet relationship and I admired Lucille’s resolve to keep them together, no matter what she had to do to keep the system unaware of their situation.
I also enjoyed the emphasis on friends and doing good things for other people. Lucille has a longstanding friendship with Eden and Digby and they’re the first people to stand by her when she’s left all alone. Despite the challenges and obstacles it causes in their relationships, the message that small deeds can make a big difference comes across clearly. This is also true for the people who begin to secretly do nice things for Lucille and Wren, like filling their cabinets with food or mowing the grass, and the people at the restaurant where she works. I enjoyed that there was a focus on the good in people, when the focus could easily have been on all of the bad things instead.
A large part of the story is about Lucille’s relationship with Digby. They have a long history and obviously there’s been something more than just friendship there for a while. Digby’s a great guy and goes out of his way time and time again to help Lucille make it through by giving her rides to work, watching Wren, or just helping her get her mind off of things. However, I was a little conflicted about it because he was in a long-term relationship with someone else but I do feel like they’re good for each other.
This Raging Light is a reminder that life isn’t fair or easy but that good moments can come out of the darkness. You’ll be rooting for life to finally turn around for Lucille and Wren and cringe every time that it doesn’t. It’s a very emotional read and one that will leave you thinking long after you put the book down. I don’t think this book will be for everyone but if you’re looking for something moving and authentic, I’d recommend giving This Raging Light a try.