A teenage girl falls for her best friend’s brother in Estelle Laure’s soulful debut that’s perfect for fans of Gayle Forman, Jandy Nelson, and Rainbow Rowell.
For fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell comes a gorgeous debut novel about family, friends, and first love.
Lucille Bennett is pushed into adulthood after her mom decides to “take a break”…from parenting, from responsibility, from Lucille and her little sister, Wren. Left to cover for her absentee parents, Lucille thinks, “Wren and Lucille. Lucille and Wren. I will do whatever I have to. No one will pull us apart.”
Now is not the time for level-headed 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.
"A funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise.”
—Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
“Lucille may not take down a beast or assassinate any super bads, but she’s what heroines look like and love like in real life.”
Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school. I kind of knew she wasn’t going to show up, on account of what I got in the mail yesterday, but I waited up all night just the same, hoping, hoping I was just being paranoid, that my pretty-much-never-wrong gut had made some kind of horrible mistake. The door didn’t squeak, the floorboards never creaked, and I watched the sun rise against the wall, my all-the-way-insides knowing the truth: we are alone, Wrenny and me, at least for now. Wren and Lucille. Lucille and Wren. I will do whatever I have to. No one will ever pull us apart. That means keeping things as normal as possible. Faking it. Because things couldn’t be further from.
Normal got gone with Dad.
It gave me kind of a funny floating feeling as I brushed Wren’s hair into braids she said were way too tight, made coffee, breakfast, lunch for the two of us, got her clothes, her bag, walked her to her first day of fourth grade, saying hi to everyone in the neighborhood while I tried to dodge anyone who might have the stones to ask me where the hell my mother was. But I did it all wrong, see. Out of order.
I should make coffee and get myself ready first. Wren should get dressed after breakfast and not before, because she is such a sloppy eater. As of this morning, she apparently doesn’t like tuna (“It looks like puke—ick”), which was her favorite yesterday, and I only found out when it was already packed and we were supposed to be walking out the door. I did the piles of deflated laundry, folded mine, hung up Mom’s, carefully placed Wren’s into her dresser drawers, but it turns out none of her clothes fit right anymore. How did she grow like that in two measly weeks? Maybe because these fourteen days have been foreverlong.
These are all things Mom did while nobody noticed. I notice her now. I notice her isn’t. I notice her doesn’t. I want to poke at Wren, find out why she doesn’t ask where Mom is on the first day of school, why Mom isn’t here. Does she know somewhere inside that this was always going to happen, that the night the police came was the beginning and that this is only the necessary, inevitable conclusion?
Sometimes you just know a thing.
Anyway, I did everything Mom would do. At least, I tried to. But the universe knows good and well that I am playing at something, pretending from a manual I wish I had. Still, when I kissed the top of Wren’s dark, smooth head goodbye, she skipped into the school building. That’s got to count for something.
It’s a balmy morning. Summer doesn’t know it’s on the outs yet, and I quickstep the nine blocks between the schools. By the time I push through the high school doors, I am sweating all over the place.
And now I’m here. In class. The song Wren was humming on the way to school pounds a dull and boring headache through me, some poppy beat. I’m a little late to English, but so is mostly everyone else on the first day. Soon we’ll all know exactly where we’re supposed to be and when, where we sit. We’ll be good little sheople.
Eden is here, always on time, early enough to stake her claim to exactly the seat she wants, her arm draped over the back of an empty chair next to her, until she sees me and drops it to her side. English is the only class we got together this year, which is a ball of suck. First time ever. I like it better when we get to travel through the day side by side. At least our lockers are next to each other’s.
She’s so cool, but in her totally Eden way. It’s not the kind of cool that says come and get me. It’s the kind that watches and waits and sees a lot—a thinking kind. Her thick, flaming hair virtually flows over the back of her chair, and her leather-jacket armor is on, which you would think is a little excessive for September in Cherryville, New Jersey, except for the fact that they blast the air conditioning at this school so it’s movie-theater cold, and really I’m wishing I had a jacket, wishing I had packed Wren something cozy in her backpack too, but I’m pretty sure it’s not quite so bad at the elementary school. I think the high school administration has decided that freezing us out might help control our unruly hormones or something.
They are wrong.
Mr. Liebowitz gives me a look as I sit down. I have so rudely interrupted his standard cranky speech about the year, about how he’ll take no guff from us this time around, about how just because we’re seniors doesn’t mean we get to act like jackasses and get a free pass. Or maybe he’s giving me that look because he knows about Dad, too. People titter all around me, but it’s like Eden and her leather jacket muffle all that noise right out. As long as I have her, I’m okay. I never mess around much with other people anyway. Digby may be her twin, but I’m the one she shares a brain with.
Meanwhile, Liebowitz looks like Mister Rogers, so he can growl and pace as much as he wants and it has no effect. You know he’s a total softie, that he can’t wait to get home and change into his cardigan and comfy shoes, so he can get busy taking superspectacular care of his plants and play them Frank Sinatra or something. He’ll calm down. He always starts the year uptight. Who can blame him? High school is a total insane asylum. They need bars on the windows, security guards outside. They would never do that here.
Eden kicks her foot into mine and knocks me back into now. I do not like now, and so I kick back, wondering if playing footsies with my best friend qualifies as guff.
“Dinner,” she mouths.
“Wren,” I mouth back. Shrug.
My eyes tell her about Mom without meaning to.
She shakes her head. Then, “Bitch,” she says in a whisper. I shrug again, try to keep my eyes from hers.
“Bring Wren. My mom will feed the world.”
“Digby will be there.” She kicks my foot again.
I make my whole self very still. Stare at Liebowitz as his thin, whitish lips form words.
“Well, he does live at your house,” I say. Superlame.
“Ladies,” Liebowitz says, all sing-songy warning. “It’s only the first day. Don’t make me separate you.”
Good luck separating us, I want to say. Good luck with that. Go feed your fish and water your plants. Get your cardigan and your little sneakers on, and leave me alone.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won’t you be my neighbor?
When Wrenny and I roll up the hill to Eden’s house in Mom’s ancient Corolla, Digby and his dad, John, are outside playing basketball, and I want to get in the house as fast as possible, because otherwise I might be trapped here a...
Winter 2015-2016 Kids’ Indie Next Pick!
“Her first-person narration is lyrical, akin to that of a Francesca Lia Block character, but there's an undercurrent of roughness in her voice… heartbreakingly hopeful, lyrically told..." —Kirkus
"Estelle Laure’s prose is utterly gorgeous, even as it lays out the story of a girl dealing with the failings of her parents, death, and her own insecurities." —BookRiot
“Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light might be YA, but it’s got plenty of grown-up appeal.” —entertainmentweekly.com
"Laure’s debut stands out for her keen understanding of the spectrum of human emotions, and her ability to put tough feelings into beautiful prose."
“In an assured debut, Laure gives Lucille a fierce stubbornness that keeps her going. . . The characters are well drawn, and Laure effectively depicts the adrenaline rush of love.” —Publishers Weekly
“This Raging Light is a funny, heartwrenching, and soulful read as Lucille develops her own personal family, bloodline or not. It's not one you'll soon forget.” —Bustle
“Lucille's fresh, first-person voice spills over with metaphor, poetically capturing her emotional landscape with force and fury, frantic love and absolute exhaustion.” —Shelf Awareness
“Laure’s debut is brilliant and not to be missed.” —RT Book Reviews
“Lucille may not take down a beast or assassinate any super bads, but she’s what heroines look like and love like in real life.” —Justine magazine
“[a] poetic, heartbreaking read that will resonate with teens.” —BookPage online
“The narrative rings authentic, especially as Lucille wrestles with romantic pangs. Thankfully, there’s enough wry humor to balance the worry and poignancy. Above all, you’ll love steadfast Lucille and keep caring about what comes next.” —Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Lucille is a steel-strong, deeply human heroine fighting against impossible odds.” —BNTEENblog
“Readers will be seduced by the love affair budding between Digby and Lucille as much as she is. The characters are believably flawed, but eminently likeable, leaving the reader with hope for humanity.” —Montana Public Radio
"Laure’s debut stands out for her keen understanding of the spectrum of human emotions, and her ability to put tough feelings into beautiful prose." —Horn Book
"Bursting with feeling, like a seventies pop song, Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light should be read at a feverish clip and then passed on to your favorite friend." —Campus Circle
“I loved this book. I was torn between wanting to devour it in one breathless read and needing to stop and savor each gorgeous turn of phrase. This is a remarkable debut." —Morgan Matson, author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Since You’ve Been Gone
"This Raging Light is a funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise sometimes." —Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Geography of You and Me
“Estelle Laure writes with power and lyricism—but more than that, she writes honestly from the heart. Definitely a writer to watch!” —A.M. Jenkins, Printz Honor winning author of Repossessed
"With This Raging Light, Estelle Laure establishes herself as a literary heavyweight. Laure’s characters mimic her writing, at once visceral and brave, unafraid to confront love in its every facet—surprising, surpassing, flawed. This book is a thick quilt in a cold room, and I want to wrap myself in it." —David Arnold, author of Mosquitoland
“[Laure] has a raw, authentic voice and a passion for storytelling.” —Matt de la Peña, Pura Belprée honoree and award-winning YA novelist of The Living and Mexican WhiteBoy
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