Title: Gives Light (Gives Light series)
Author: Rose Christo
Cover artist: n/a
Amazon: Gives Light (Gives Light Series)
Genre: YA romance
Length: 315 pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: A memorable narrator and great writing made for a fantastic read for me.
“Skylar is my name, tragically.”
Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.
When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.
As some of you may know by now I love Young Adult coming of age stories. I have read many good ones, but this one I would characterize as wonderful. I am actually really frustrated again because the usual description of what this story is about would apply to so many “coming of age” books. It is a story about growing up, about finding your place in the world, about coming to terms with your heritage, coming to terms with the fact that you are attracted to men.
But this description will also make this story sound like a cookie cutter one and it is so far from being a cookie cutter. I probably should stop being frustrated again that the story fits its subgenre so perfectly and tell you guys why it feels so different, so wonderful, so unique to me. I suppose great writing has something to do with all of that and with how the narrator is portrayed. Skylar is such a great protagonist, his voice is both vulnerable and strong and so very sixteen. It is ironic that I was so in love with his voice, because as the blurb tells you Skylar lost his voice because of violence that took place years ago.
“I smiled slightly and shook my head. It was ironic that he’d called the cat clock creepy, because he looked like a timid kitten right now and it was adorable. I hate using words like adorable, but there was no other word for it.
I kissed him on the nose.
There was something I really liked about …. (name omitted for spoilerish purposes :)) nose. I don’t know what it was. The shape definitely factored into it, but … now that I think about it, it’s probably just that it happened to be in the center of his face. I liked his face on the whole. I liked everything about him. It was a little scary to realize there was absolutely nothing about him I found unpleasant”
I do not remember ever reading a book in this genre which takes place in a contemporary Indian Reservation (I have read a couple where the events took place in the past), but while the setting adds charm to the story, it was very far from being its main attraction to me. I think I was reminded of the suggestion that interesting characters could be interesting in any time and place and every person in this story was interesting.
Skylar tells the story and you can imagine him sitting near you and telling you all of this, if he could talk. You can see his father, his grandmother, kids, teenagers with whom Skylar becomes friends so clearly in front of your eyes.
The blurb hints at Skylar getting to know the son of his mother’s murderer and it is indeed true, but do not expect this plot development to b e any kind of sensationalism. When I started reading the story I was worried that this revelation will come up as a source for potential conflict because at first it will be a secret and then it will come up in the most unexpected way. Well, it was not like that at all and I counted my blessings that the writer did not handle it in the way the secrets are so often being handled in romance. And that is all I am going to say on this matter 😉
I also have to say that the romance felt so beautiful, genuine and believable to me and this is all I am going to say on this matter as well, because the blurb is quite silent on the matter of Skylar’s love interest.
I do have to say that the resolution of the events from the past did bother me; not in the sense that it did not fit the story, it just bothered me on the personal level, but I am not sure how it could have been done any differently.
This first book can be read as a stand alone, but you can see that there are issues which will continue in the next two books which I have not read yet and I believe the author promised a fourth book as a free conclusion to the trilogy.