Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Jill Santopolo - The Light We Lost

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?
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 choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other s hearts.

Comment: Last year I've read another book by this author and liked it enough that I felt like I'd want to try something else by her. I can't say if it was just that the other one was a wonder for me or that it's bad luck but this one certainly didn't engage me the same way...

In this book we follow the lives of Lucy and Gabe, two friends from university, as they go on about their lives, first as a couple, then as individuals going on about their lives and how much they still think of one another. While they are together, nothing seems to get between them, until a job offer too hard to say no changes everything. As only distant friends, they still talk from time to time but it's true nothing remains the same, except perhaps the feelings they have for one another. But can they move on from the past or whatever that unites them will never disappear?

While adding this book to my Goodreads page, I inevitably saw a few words here and there by other readers and I got the idea there would be some kind of twist at the end. I also saw the book being compared to certain titles and.... - seriously, what a seemingly silly idea, it's impossible a prolific reader wouldn't add two and two and guess what kind of story this would be, these supposed marketing tactics to bring more readers can be quite sad - I imagined where this might go but still wanted to be dazzled by the author.

I had read another book so I expected the style to be similar, but I can't say if my memory was that faulty or if this was just so different that the "voice" seemed very different as well and I was struggling to be interested. Actually, for a big part of the story I was simply bored and felt this had nothing to do with the other in terms of writing and captivating characters.

While I wasn't a fan of certain elements in the other book, the heroine's thoughts and personal life made me eager to keep turning the pages. However, the same didn't happen here and Lucy, the heroine who's POV we follow, just seemed whiny and obsessed with things that don't feel that important. I liked that she cared about her job and the work she was doing and that she felt she didn't have to defend this, as it was something she was good at, but apart from this detail about her life, everything else was simply seen through the perspective of who sh was by being in love with Gabe.

Now, if this relationship was cute or so amazingly done, I think I could have overlooked the repetition and the boredom of Lucy's thoughts and her severely annoying attitude in relation to this, especially since she was such a clever woman, but sadly for me, the story seems to be taken into those kind of doomed scenarios, where one is supposed to not be sable to look aside. I think that if I wasn't interested in seeing how the twist would be done, I'd have left the book unfinished because everything Lucy does feel silly and the behavior of an unhealthy person. 

Gabe was important for her, they shared a lot, had a wonderful connection and chemistry but their lives went different ways. Doesn't this happen to everyone, even if not in a romantic context? I just think the author made a lot of effort to convey a feeling and an intensity to something I feel was contrived and not that special after all. Lucy marries someone else and, sure, that person might not be perfect - no one is - but it feels as if the reader should dislike him just because he isn't Gabe. I really can't understand why we should think Lucy and Gabe were such a great couple...

There are some interesting things like Lucy's job at a children's TV show, Gabe becomes photographer and certain things outside of their relationship intrigued me here and there. But the story starts during 9/11 and while that is a fact no one can ignore has shaped the lives of so many Americans - and others too - , it still feels a little weird to see it used in such a way to propel this story's plot. I'd have preferred the author to have focused on both their POVs and in their personalities to develop the romance, but I don't feel I ever got to know these characters.

As for the twist in the end, well, it wasn't a twist, it was a silly move in my opinion to garner more sympathy and the tears of those who felt genuine shock or emotion in similar types of books. The author is free to do what she wanted but I think that end was a disservice to the idea of this plot, to how Lucy lived her life after she and Gabe broke up, and to everyone else who had to make choices in their lives, even at the emotional cost of their feelings. I can understand the idea of doing something many might see as powerful but my head just didn't see it that way.

In the end, this story was not what i expected before I started seeing reviews or after having read the other book. I'll think twice now, before trying another of her books...
Grade: 4/10

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