THE LIGHT WE LOST,
BY JILL SANTOPOLO
PUBLICATION: G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS; MAY 9, 2017
About the book: Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.
Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it a choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
Me Before You meets One Day in this devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending. A Love Story for a new generation.
So, I was not expecting The Light We Lost to be such a tear-jerker, but here I am still thinking about the novel and the tears that fell upon my Kindle. Why?? No seriously, what an amazing, real and emotional story author Jill Santopolo brings the world. For anyone has “that one that got away” or maybe even the one that “it just wasn’t meant to be,” brace yourself for this story. Lucy meets Gabe while in college but a year later they meet again and fall hard for one another. However, their dreams are going in different directions, so Gabe eventually takes off across the world to pursue his dream of photojournalism while Lucy stays in New York to pursue her dream producing children’s television. During his time away, everything changes including new significant others, children, and years – but does it really change how they feel?
This novel poses several questions about this brief life that we are given. How many great loves will we have in our lives? What if the spark with one love was better than another? What if you want with all of your body and soul to love the “perfect guy” but still can’t let go of the one that got away?I loved Lucy and loved her character. She was smart, funny, beautiful, grounded – but she was still a girl. She still wanted the fireworks and passion above everything else. I liked Gabe but didn’t love him. Initially, he seemed different and artistic in a fabulous, passionate way. However, I found myself for resenting his leaving for the Middle East, regardless if he was following his dream career. Don’t ask why I just did. I thought Darren was a fantastic and honest character, despite the “paper doll” reference and I completely rooted for him and Lucy from the time they met. Was he perfect? Absolutely not, but damned if he didn’t put forth a lot of effort to be so.
Trying my best not to give spoilers, there is a turning point in the novel, towards the end, where everything changes. I found myself sad and crying for what might have been, but then I caught myself thinking that more than likely, Gabe had not changed and there would not be a HEA regardless. Perhaps I am wrong, but I felt like the ending of the novel was his easy way out, because otherwise he would have been faced with grown-up life and responsibilities, which he would have hated. If you have read this you will know to what I am referring but if you haven’t, let’s just say that Gabe was a dreamer and never struck me as the “family man” type.
Lastly, I have to admit that for the first 50 pages or so, I was a little bored. I didn’t know what was going on regarding the narration from Lucy. Was this a letter? A conversation? But I soon found myself entranced by their story and could literally feel the weight on Lucy’s shoulders. Jill Santopolo’s writing is captivating and her characterization of Lucy is outstanding. It made me sad for Lucy in ways, feeling as if she would never find true happiness because of holding on to the past, but I hope the end provided her the closure that she needed.
If you love literary and women’s fiction – and aren’t too upset by a somewhat ambiguous ending, then this should be your next read. However, if you need definites and absolution then steer clear of this one. I think I know what happened after the ending of the novel but, of course, one can never be sure. Regardless, I am so incredibly impressed with the author’s writing and the development of the story.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.