Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
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Note: I already know I’m going to be that person with this book. This is an official black sheep review for What Light.
I started this book with high hopes for the perfect Christmastime book. What I finished with was a book full of a whiny, nosy main character girl and unrealistic relationships. Yup, I disliked it that much. I understand the circumstances. I read the synopsis. Sierra basically lives two different lives and has done so for her entire life. There comes a time, however, when one has to look at one’s choices in life.
Sierra’s character held great potential at the beginning, but, when she met Caleb, quickly unveiled herself to be wishy-washy. Her character tried to be determined and powerful, but it came across as fake. When she told Andrew “No.” for dating one second, and confirmed the idea of no dating in California with her friend Heather, then told Heather “Yes.” when she saw Caleb… mmm… wishy washy. This theme resonates the entire book as well. Then, Sierra repeatedly creates problems with those around her. When Caleb tells Sierra about his past (which she continues to eat a pancake during this whole scene… this bothers me. Girl, I love pancakes, too, but put down the fork and look the boy in the face while he’s pouring his heart out to you.), he trusts her to understand, but when Sierra right away trusts him and has no internal struggle with coming to terms. I am a forgiving person, but Sierra is naive. Continually, she brings up the idea of focusing on the knife incident, but says it doesn’t bother her. This just didn’t work for me. Again, an example of being wishy-washy. Anyways, after Caleb tells her about his past, she noses her way into his broken relationships trying to fix them when she has no business doing so. It’s Caleb’s problem to fix those relationships with those other people. She wasn’t there when the incident happened, so she needs to butt out. Her choices and reactions to different things really bothered me.
Sierra’s friends seemed to only pop up when convenient. At least in Heather’s case. Heather, apparently a best friend, appears to be a confident, outgoing person, but when it comes to certain situations is insecure. Her character may have been one of the most realistic and stable character in the entire book. When it came to Rachel and Elizabeth, however, I could not stand them. Rachel, simply put, is a drama queen. When she tells Sierra about being in the Christmas Carol and Sierra tells her she doesn’t want to/can’t go to the play, Rachel and Elizabeth give her the silent treatment. Rachel and Elizabeth need to cool down because they know a trip from Oregon to California is not easy to make, especially when Sierra is working on a tree lot. Sure, Sierra telling them she wanted to stay there for Caleb is horrible, but let’s be real. Perhaps Sierra wanted to hang out with Heather, or she had to work that entire weekend and couldn’t make it. Hmm? What about that? Her friends have to realize she has another life/job down in California.
I really think the main problem I have with What Light is the characters. Their interactions felt forced and awkward when they should have felt natural. They were inconsistent with their choices. The “villain”, Andrew, was not a bad guy, but Sierra just started a problem where one didn’t need to be. I felt like too much emphasis was put on Sierra turning Andrew down an entire year ago.
The entire plot and concept of the story really intrigued me and kept me hooked in. I breezed through the easy read and loved the incorporation of Caleb learning new words for Sierra. (No matter how easy her words were compared to his. She is not a vocab nerd, people.) If the characters could have been more dynamic and less shallow, then I would have fallen in love with this book.
Have you read What Light? What are your thoughts on the characters? What’s your favorite holiday read? Tell me in the comments below!
Much love, XOXO,
~A Writer Named Charley~