This morning when I sat down at my computer, opened up my facebook (like I normally do), I watched a news story about Syrian refugees crossing the border into Macedonia. These people; men and women, many with children in their arms, had walked long distances and had crossed treacherous oceans in leaky boats. In fact, they had risked their lives, sustained only by the hope of freedom, only to be met by soldiers and bullets at the very gate of that freedom. It was a sobering start to my day and one which left me feeling broken-hearted for the future of humanity. And so, beginning my day like this, I felt truly blessed to also stumble upon Estelle Laure’s little book This Raging Light.
Poignant and heart wrenching, This Raging Light, tells the story of 17 year old Lucille and her 9 year old sister Wren, who are left to fend for themselves when their father’s nervous breakdown finally pushes his wife to the point of abandonment. Too scared to tell anyone and fearful that the authorities will discover the situation and separate the girls, Lucille must juggle her Senior Year, parenthood along with the demands of ensuring the bills get paid and they have enough food to eat. The situation is further complicated when Lucille’s long time crush, Digby, gets involved and she finds herself emotionally entangled in a relationship best described as “complicated”. With a rich cast of vividly drawn characters (all with some pretty strange names I might add), This Raging Light is a sensitive exploration of the bondedness of family, friendship and the pain and heady exhilaration of first love. Laure’s razor sharp prose provides the perfect vessel for a psychological exploration of the impact of abandonment on children. This is a magnificent story to gorge upon in those moments when one is in the market for a good cry.
This Raging Light will hit the mark perfectly with students from the upper end of the middle years and right through to late secondary school. Teachers should be aware that the book does make reference to sexual activity and homosexuality, although this is dealt with sensitively and is not core to the story. This Raging Light would be a perfect choice for close analysis in class, and its shorter than average length, will make this a good option for time pressed teachers. Furthermore, the book would work equally well in reading circles, or, for private study in the senior grades.
Estelle Laure has penned a highly immersive tale deserving of the highest praise. Thank you Ms Laure for blessing me today with your awesome little book that literally shouts forth a message of hope for humanity. No doubt this same message will remain with all of your readers long after the last page has been turned.
***This Raging Light is due for publication January 12 2016 and is available for pre-order.