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In Perfect Light

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  316 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
From award-winning poet Benjamin Alire Sáenz comes In Perfect Light, a haunting novel depicting the cruelties of cultural displacement and the resilience of those who are left in its aftermath.

In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andés Segovia's parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a y
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Liz Janet
Nov 23, 2014 Liz Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book, I had already read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Last Night I Sang to the Monster, so I knew how he could play with emotions, but I was not prepared for the pain this caused.

Now here there are three things this book did right:

1-Mister, his character was adorable, so nice, kind, forgivable, and I just want to cuddle him, and so will you.

2-The representation of transgender characters was brilliant, as well as the underlying theme of the U.S.-M
Apr 26, 2017 Jo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No me conmovió ni un poquito.Tiene un montón de POVs que tardan mucho en conectar y el relato es muuuy pausado.
juan carlos
Aug 12, 2016 juan carlos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OJO: Este libro es un poco dificil de leer por su estilo narrativo, pero una vez que ubicas las voces narrativas, se vuelve adictivo y desgarrador.


1. Por que es un libro que muestra lo cruel de la vida, donde los traumas y rencores de la infancia pueden influir en nuestro comportamiento de adultos.
2. Te muestra perfectamente los matices del destino entre sombríos y luces cegadoras.
3. Los temas referentes a la prostitución infantil, los trasvestis, el abuso
Oct 24, 2016 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
In my top of most heartbreaking of works that managed to still build my faith in what can be humane within the inhumanity.

Fadzlishah Johanabas
I fell in love with Benjamin Alire Saenz's writing when I was reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Not after. During. What I did after was look for more books from Mr Saenz. Unfortunately, Kinokuniya only carried another title, Last Night I Sang to the Monster. I had to buy other books through

I love technology.

In Perfect Light arrived a little worse for wear, with dented and creased edges, brownish discoloration of the pages, and a black marker mark at th
Jun 23, 2017 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


I really don't quite know how to articulate what beautiful a story this is.

It's been a long time since a book has had such an emotional impact on me. So I thought I'd at least try to type some words about this wonderful, wonderful book.

"In Perfect Light" tells the story of Andrés Segovia, a young man burdened by the memories of his past, trapped inbetween remembering and forgetting, and Grace Delgado, a therapist, who has lost a husband, is struggling to love a so
// Trigger warnings in this book: rape, abuse, pedophilia, depression, loss //


It pains me to give a book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz this rating but here I am anyway. Sáenz said this was his best book and I understand why.
But I couldn't get past how the transitions were rough and that there were too many things happenings with no real 'focal' point. & while I enjoyed the ending that had me at the edge of my seat at work (literally) and blinking away tears, it was too rushed and scattered to h
María Fernández
Mar 02, 2017 Erick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
¿Cómo es que los libros de Alire Sáenz a pesar de ser tan similares y predecibles terminan afectándome de la misma manera? Simplemente no lo sé, pero es fácil encariñarse con los personajes que hay en esta novela porque a pesar de estar rotos y desorientados logran conservar una pizca de esperanza que los anima a seguir e intentarlo una y otra vez. Otra de las cosas que agradezco de esta novela es que los personajes sean mexicanos (o no) y no se avergüencen de México ni se enorgullezcan de USA, ...more
May 27, 2014 Isis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried sad tears. I cried happy tears.

I swear, one day, Benjamin Alire Saenz will be the death of me.


Going into this, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Benjamin Alire Saenz is my favorite author. I've read most of his novels, short stories, and poetry. I keep coming back to his writing looking for heartfelt stories with realistic characters going through real-life issues, and he always delivers. Another important factor about his stories is that they always revolve around Mexican-American
Oct 08, 2015 Mari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I talked about this book in my Hispanic Heritage Reads wrap-up video.

I stayed up past my bedtime to read the last 50% of this book and I'm pretty sure there were tears for most of that time. This was not an easy book to read for me and part of the reason I just sat down and finished it off was because prolonging it was making me "dread" the reading experience. I kept thinking, "oh no! Sad things are going to happen!" I know, weird. And still I gave it five stars because this is a beautifully wri
Nov 28, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not often that a book makes me so moved that I had to restrain the tears. This is one such example.

Benjamin Alire Saenz is known for his poetry and children's books and this book utilizes both aspects. The story enters around Andres Segovia, a young man who ends up killing someone because of his rage. The book hauntingly uncovers all the reasons for this rage, starting with the car accident that killed his parents when he was eleven years old. We hear Andres' childhood through his lawyer an
Jul 06, 2016 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This follows the story of multiple characters and how their lives intertwine each others. First is Andre who went through a lot in his young years and it been harboring inside and release through this rage. Then Grace a women who's trying to help Andre, but also is dealing with her own family struggles. Then we have a hint of Mister, Grace's son, and his journey to adopting a child. And some other threads of characters making this story rich and complex.

Saenz has beautiful writing, very poetic
Feb 13, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saenz makes me cry.
He is a poet, who writes about beauty and truth and love. His characters are broken and fragile and beautiful of spirit. He writes of heartbreak, healing and hope, always leaving us with hope fluttering fragilely in the final pages of his novels. He takes us on a journey of suffering and rendition, which we know will end in light.

In this story, though, Saenz is a painter; he concentrates on light and shadow, and his characters notice things and people and their changing appea
Jan 17, 2017 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exquisite book, beautifully crafted. I was riveted from beginning to end. The author writes in lyrical prose, so that even the subjects of child abuse, prostitution and murder cannot destroy the poignant beauty of his writing. He is an artist with words; painting scenes with a brush of light and colour. His exploration of the variations of desert light throughout the story reflect the changes of emotion in the characters. Even the slide from first to third person point of view and from past t ...more
Jan 29, 2010 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unputdownable, the structure of this novel makes it somehow easier to digest. The theme: Nowhere Man is the product of an insensitive atmosphere. Yeah, sometimes a tad "Lifetime"y, this novel tells about two souls living in the borderland I call home: each one is full-fleshed and fully-realised. It is clear that the author invested an infintesimal amount of time figuring out who they are and what they want. The depictions of violence, not altogether something fictional in El Paso/Juarez, and the ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Katelynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
This is the saddest book I've ever read. Half of me wants to stab it with a stick and hold it ten feet away from me and then set it on fire. The other half wants to read it all over again and never let go of these broken people. I sobbed. I'm angry and sad. I'm so sad that the horrible things in this book happen in real life. Everything just broke my heart. There's so much pain in this story, but so much light, too. Sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad :(
May 25, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's very hard for me to review this book because I had a hard time wanting to read this book, but when I was reading it I really enjoyed it. I definitely did not see the ending coming, and while it tied up some loose strings I'm left with so many questions. This book can only be described as having a cruel and beautiful ending.
Audrey Buhain
Mar 22, 2017 Audrey Buhain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Milly Cohen
May 31, 2017 Milly Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

y me quedo corta!!
Feb 18, 2017 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard-hittin' story about some hard-hit people from El Paso.
May 31, 2017 Imogen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one read this. Fuckin devastating.
Oh Saenz, why do you keep hurting me so?
Natasha E.
I made an entire review of this book but somehow it disappeared.
I'm not going to make another one because it took so long and with so much emotion so I won't.
Basically, what I think about the book is that it's really beautiful and poetic. I love it so so so much.
I thought the ending was absurd, and I really expected more. I love Ben's books. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is my favorite, and when I bought this book, I had high expectations, for Last Night I Sang to the
Russell Sanders
Mar 16, 2016 Russell Sanders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Perfect Light is an exquisite novel, elegantly written by Benjamin Alire Saenz. This was my second reading of the novel, and pulling it from my shelf was serendipitous. The novel spoke to me this reading far more than the previous one. But most importantly, I was struck by the painstakingly careful construction. As a writer myself, I marvel at the ability to mix first person viewpoint with third person, present tense with past tense. Saenz does this so beautifully that the reader is not jarre ...more
Sep 08, 2011 Dania rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
In Perfect Light is a novel about a young man named Andres whose life drastically changes after seeing his therapist, Grace Delgado. He's had to see a therapist several times, but finds it useless. He does not believe seeing Grace will help him. David, his lawyer- now for several cases- has made it possible for Andres to stay out of jail and keep seeing Grace. David knows Andres's struggled a lot after his parents died when he was 10. Grace develops empathy towards Andres, for he reminds her of ...more
Ana Clara
Jan 12, 2017 Ana Clara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017

I've come to realize, during my reading life, why I don't cry when I'm reading. It's very rare that a book will even make my eyes watery, and that's because I like happy things. It sounds obvious, but it took me a while to get there.
I don't watch movies about wars because I know they'll be sad. I don't watch sport movies because I know they'll be sad. I try not to watch movies based on real events because, again, they'll be sad. Of sad and tragic I have real life. Non-fiction books, documenta
Jul 03, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers in pursuit of great literature.
Shelves: novel
With the amount of suffering and tragedy the main character Andres and his therapist Grace endure, with the difficult topic of abuse and exploitation of children, it takes an extremely well written book to earn a 5 star level very enjoyable can't put it down rating. Saenz accomplishes this and so much more with his poetic lyrical prose. Analogies such as to a desert storm used numerously to describe our inevitable sufferings, trials, and tribulations added richness to the reading experience. One ...more
Avery (ThePagemaster)

Despite this being my least favorite of Benjamin Alire Saenz's books, that doesn't say much at all compared to the wonderfully constructed story this was and, ironically, one of the more darker novels I have read so far.

The book starts off with just your general story of this troubled young man, Andres, who has had a very troubled life, to say the least. You also follow Andres's therapist, Grace, and how her interactions with Andres not only changes her life, but the life of her family and, i
Jan 06, 2013 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
What I enjoy most about Sáenz's writing is his effortless prose. Even when dealing with some of the more heavy ideas in this novel, the horror and absolute shock is conveyed with grace and an invitation that it's completely okay to feel something. This is the third work that I have read by him and his ease and control over the language is still refreshing and beautiful.

Sáenz really knows how to totally devastate a reader and then, within a few pages, piece them back together. I found that, while
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Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children's books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humaniti
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“God, it would never go away, this anger, this rage that was like the ceaseless movement of the spring winds through the desert, this knot in his guts, this splinter in his heart that shot a pain through him that eventually found its way into his lungs, then out of his mouth and into the open air, the sound making the whole world turn away from him. It would never go away, never, never, and there would never be any peace. [...] Maybe he had it all wrong, maybe he wasn't a victim at all, not at all, because he had decided that this was the only thing that would ever be truly his, and so he clung to it, would cling to it forever.” 4 likes
“Sam had once told him that the shape of the human heart changed every time it loved someone.” 4 likes
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