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What: When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas

Who: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

When: April 1st 2018

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.

When the Vasquez siblings’ father left, it seemed nothing could remedy the absence in their lives . . . until a shimmering figure named Luz appeared in the canyon behind their house.

Luz filled the void. He shot hoops with seventeen-year-old Hank’s hands. He showed fourteen-year-old Ana cinematic beauty behind her eyelids. He spoke kindly to eight-year-old Milo. But then Luz left, too, and he took something from each of them. As a new school year begins, Ana, Hank, and Milo must carry on as if an alien presence never altered them. But how can they ever feel close to other people again when Luz changed everything about how they see the world and themselves?

In an imaginative and heartfelt exploration of human—and non-human—nature, Leah Thomas champions the unyielding bonds between family and true friends.

Leah Thomas is hands down one of my favourite authors. I endlessly adore her first two books – Because You’ll Never Meet Me and Nowhere Near You – and now When Light Left Us has cemented her as one of the best authors in YA right now.

Each of Leah’s books hits you hard in the feels. The entire time I was reading When Light Left Us I felt like my heart was breaking. Each of the four POV characters – the three Vazquez siblings and their mother – was going through such a hard time. Each of them was struggling with their own demons, and each of them wanted to be better. Hank wanted to be a better brother, but didn’t know how in the wake of what happened before the book started. Ana wanted to feel better, but didn’t know where she fit in. Milo wanted everyone else to be better, but he was only a kid. And Maggie. Maggie wanted to be a better mother, but wasn’t sure she could be.

Each and every one of these characters was so distinct, and each of them tugged at my heartstrings for a different reason. For the most part of When Light Left Us the Vasquez family is in tatters – they hardly talk to each other, they’re trying to forget this huge-ass thing that happened to them, and they’re still recovering from their father just up and running away from them, never to be heard of again. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t love each other fiercely because they do. In fact, the Vazquez family is one of the strongest I’ve read about. I absolutely adored them, and I just wanted to reach through the page and get them to talk to each other – make them realize how much they love each other, and how much they need one another.

The isolation that surrounds each Vasquez has mainly come around due to the absence of Luz – a kind of alien creature that inhabited each of the three siblings. Throughout When Light Left Us, I was wondering what exactly Luz was, and what he did to the three Vasquez children. I was wondering why they were all so broken after he left. I won’t say anything about Luz or what the Vasquezes went through with him because I think it’s best left unknown until it’s revealed naturally in the story. I will say that when everything was revealed… I couldn’t bring myself to completely despise Luz, despite his actions. There was a part of me that sympathised with him, that understood what drove him.

When Light Left Us was by no means an easy read. There were many things that were touched on – from sexuality, to bullying, to motherhood, to finding yourself, to falling in love, to fitting in – and they were not always “pretty” so to say. But they were heartfelt and real and explored in a way that was always to the fullest extent. When Light Left Us wasn’t an easy read, but it was one that I highly recommend because it’s full of heart and I know it won’t be leaving me for a long, long time.

© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

use of ableist language, absent father (abandonment), reference to self harm, physical assault, homophobia/misia, bullying, loss of autonomy, attempted suicide, car crash

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Posted on: May 1, 2018 • By: Chiara

8 Responses to When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas: Another Thomas Masterpiece

  1. Valerie says:

    I definitely agree with you (as we’ve talked about haha). I’m always surprised by Leah Thomas. She does an amazing job weaving together contemporary and scifi without making it incredibly complicated. Honestly, I was a bit confused at the beginning, but just something about the novel (really the characters) that just kept me going.

    (Also I definitely was expecting everything to just be in everyone’s heads, but to my surprise it was not!)

    • Chiara says:

      I really like the way she blends contemporary and sci-fi – almost so well that it could be JUST contemporary if you looked at it one way, if that makes sense, haha. The beginning was a little confusing, but I was just like: go with it. Cause I knew it would all come together later, and I didn’t need all the answers straight away. The characters were the best aspect of this book, so I’m glad you loved them as well <3

  2. Kelly says:

    Leah Thomas is one of my favourite authors as well, Because You’ll Never Meet Me and and Nowhere Near You were two of my favourite reads. She’s one of a small few authors that can blend diverse, contemporary storylines with magical realism. Really excited to delve onto it. Amazing review Chiara, absolutely loved it <3

    • Chiara says:

      Yay for another Leah Thomas fan! I honestly adore every word she’s written and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. I love her blend of contemporary and sci-fi – it’s something so unique and I haven never seen someone do it the way she does. I hope you enjoy this one, Kelly! Thank you <3

  3. This sounds like such a touching book Chiara! The mystery behind who/what Luz is sounds like it was done really well. The siblings sound really fascinating too and I’m glad the mother got her own pov! Lovely review as always!

    • Chiara says:

      It was really touching because it was so much about family and internal reflection. The mystery was done really well, and I think everything was revealed at the right time. The mother’s POV was really important, and at times hard to read. But I think it added an extra layer to the novel. Thanks, lovely!

  4. verushka says:

    I am so thrown by the idea of an alien in a book about a family dealing with such tough stuff. Part of me doesn’t know what to make of it, but at the same time, from your review, I am so curious!

    • Chiara says:

      It was definitely an interesting premise, and I’ve never read anything quite like this book! It was really wonderful, so I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re curious!

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