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The Light in the Sound

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Rachel Richardson works in an adult toy store in Seattle. Her estranged family lives a thousand miles away, and she has a bunch of wretched friends. She really just wants to be loved, but this isn’t a love story. It’s about combating isolation. Rachel is tired of walking through life half asleep—literally and figuratively because she also suffers from night terrors. Counting on others becomes increasingly difficult, though. As she attempts to make new connections, familial wounds grow deeper and deceptions multiply. Her sense of disconnection from family, work, and friends grows, resulting in her attempting to cut all ties, turn inward, and numb herself emotionally. Ultimately, in the wake of losing everything—yet again—Rachel is forced to discover how many times one person can start over before self-destructing.

195 pages, Paperback

First published October 19, 2015

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5 stars
21 (80%)
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4 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Faisal.
78 reviews48 followers
February 5, 2017
The Light in the Sound

Thank you for the autograph book through Goodreads giveaway.

Wow, I really didn’t know what to expect with this book because it is out of my normal genre, but it was really great. I enjoyed reading the fictional novel about a young girl’s journey through family, relationships, work and life with scrutiny. The life of an average person living in today’s society is what this book shows with intense humor and sadly the judgmental views made by others.

The author Vanessa Gonzales did an awesome job reflecting our society. The type of work Gonzales’ protagonist Rachael does is clearly indicative to my ex-society. Yes, not everyone is going to be a doctor or engineer. Keep your (ex-society) judgmental views in your own ripped pockets. What ever happened to love, caring for others and overall being a good person with strong values?

I would recommend this book to adults. My rating is five stars. I hope Gonzales writes more books like this one.
Profile Image for John Decarteret.
Author 8 books108 followers
August 20, 2020
Well this is not my genre at all, but i must say it was really well written. The story was good, the characters were interesting and relatable, and above all else it was clever.

The first and most obvious thing i noticed was that it was written in the present. "She wakes up," i found this interesting, not many books are like that.

It flowed nicely. the chapters were not too long (pet peeve of mine) and it was nicely polished.

Overall I have to give this 5 stars. The quality is top notch.
March 9, 2017
Honest, witty and unique story of a woman traumatized by her family and the choices she made. This story is about life and strength. I found a champion in Rachel Richardson, a woman who ran away from home and works in a porn shop, trying to find love and figure out how to cope in this world without support. She is brave and fun to read about.
The characters were well developed, complex and there vulnerabilities were on display for all to see. I loved reading this book. Set in Seattle Washington, this was a beautifully written piece.
Profile Image for Rick Pryll.
Author 10 books13 followers
February 25, 2017
Rachel is going to have to choose. Is it going to be the long crushing Justin who doesn’t seem to have his shit together, the beautifully chaotic Cerise who definitely does not have her shit together, or the tall not-gay mechanic who just fixed her fan belt and is looking to fix a whole lot more?

The Light and the Sound is a literary fiction novel from Vanessa Gonzales. It is the story of Rachel Richardson, a twenty-something runaway trying to make a life out of it in Seattle, Washington. To make ends meet she has taken a job in a seedy sex shop in a strip mall. The best thing about the job is her proximity to Justin, who works at the adjacent photo lab. Not to mention the pay. And the shock factor, let’s not forget the shock factor for her religious father and step mother back in Utah.

Set against the backdrop of a city where rain is a season, The Light in the Sound captures the feeling of being twenty-something, searching for purpose and meaning and finding only the fascinating possibilities of what could be.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an escape into how it felt to be starting out in life. It has the appeal of being told from the point of view of a sarcastic, funny, smart character who is at once daring and circumspect, self-reliant yet dependent on her narcissistic friends. For anyone who feels stuck in a rut, this book has a voyeuristic quality that will take you out of your world and allow you to experience the freedom and the danger of youth: a time when life is full of possibilities.

In a topsy-turvy world caught between religious piety and raunchy sexploitation, maybe it is best to just take it all in. In time, you are going to have to make some choices for yourself. That’s what Rachel is going to have to do.

If you are looking for answers you will have to look forward to the sequel. I know I am.
Profile Image for Phil Yff.
Author 1 book
September 15, 2019
Full of sound and light, signifying something: Protagonist, Rachel, is propped up between the bookends of her rigid Mormon upbringing and her present circumstances as a retail clerk in a porn shop. Between those two extremes, anything goes, and “The Light in the Sound” takes full advantage of the expansive playing field to do exactly that. It is set in ‘the present’ and the action occurs in a Seattle neighborhood. Yet, the contrast between present circumstances and upbringing allows the book’s scope to expand both in time and space. The specter of the past intrudes as Rachel looks to her future. The locations of her family members widen the geographical outlook.

At first, we look at Rachel condescendingly, taking her at her word; the porn shop pays ten times what McDonald’s does—she’s in it for the pay check. By the fourth chapter, we’re given a reality check. Rachel’s character is layered and complex. A 'knight in shining armor' offers to protect her against moralizing protestors. Rachel needs no support. In few words, she provides a multi-faceted assessment of all sides of the conflict encapsulated by a comparison of free speech in the US & UK. We, the readers, are not just humbled; we are floored.

At this point, the book earned its five star rating. The chapters are pearls, polished to perfection. Each makes its point crisply and concisely and is as self-contained as a well-written short story complete with dramatic twists. Together, these pearls form a necklace and communicate a cohesive, artistic vision. Because of its broad expanse, the book provides insight on a wide variety of issues. Chief of these are relationships, a search for identity, the effects of alcohol & drugs, and the generational divide. Whereas Rachel’s sophisticated world view is up to the task to assess the thematic content, the author provides an additional level of awareness. The descriptions of Rachel’s surroundings are succinct and vivid, but not intrusive. We realize Rachel needs to expand her horizons and break out of the cage in which she finds herself.

Insofar as this is literary fiction, we expect plot to take a back seat and for the book to intrigue us with its somber view of the world. Nonetheless, it does not depict a random slice of life, but we don’t come to understand the plot's super-structure until the end of the book. To avoid revealing spoilers, I will not reveal the significant events that frame the story. Suffice it to say what appears to be a casual detail in the beginning of the book gains monumental significance at the end with a surprising plot development leading Rachel to an epiphany.

“The Light in the Sound” does everything well. Most importantly, it is exquisitely crafted and sparkles with ironic wit. Rachel is remarkable and it is hard not to empathize with the poignancy of her situation. The merits of the book are undeniable, and I strongly recommend it even to those who normally avoid literary fiction.
Profile Image for Chloe Thurlow.
Author 25 books226 followers
March 15, 2016
Does life have meaning? Or is random, absurd, a dead shooting star with its light still glimmering in the abyss? Surely the US election campaigns are an allegory for the chaos and violence eating out the heart of politics, business, the banks and family life – in the United States of America, as in the rest of the world, the downside of globalization?

How do we find meaning? How do we discover who we are, what we want, what we should do and how we should live when we feel as if “we have been conditioned for a climate-controlled life in a storage box with an apron and the Book of Mormon?”

This is a contemporary dilemma; from before the industrial revolution until the end of the Second World War, most families across the planet worked to survive and there was no time for existential inquiry, casual sex, casual drug taking.

Modern life creates modern puzzles, which Vanessa Gonzales sets out to explore in her mesmerizing début novel ‘The Light in the Sound,’ a title that awoke in me memories of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being,’ Milan Kundera’s superlative opus, both in the rhythm of the title and the struggle Rachel Richardson takes on to make sense of it all.

And author Vanessa Gonzales makes her protagonist’s life harder than it may have been by putting her before the displays of sex aids, porn videos, crotchless panties, uniforms and edible underwear in a porn shop in, by contrast, Seattle, Washington – one of the prettiest places in the world to set a story.

Family miles away, shaky friendships with drop-outs, chancers, the lost and downtrodden, Rachel sleepwalks through life feeling isolated, feeling that there is something she should so, she has to do, but she can’t get her head around what it is.

Rachel’s insomnia develops into night terrors, her few friendships grow more fragile and she sees about her an apocalyptic world that is greying, decaying, going off course. She wanders the dark streets, finds a moment’s relief in bars among characters who may feel half dead but come alive off the page, people the reader will relate to, revile and, sometimes, want to gather up in their arms.

Are there millions of lonesome young women wandering the misty night spots that litter America’s city streets and broken highways with heads full of dreams and uncertainty? ‘The Light in the Sound’ will answer that question and, on reading it, you will grow slowly, grudgingly, to admire Rachel Richardson as she fights to make sense of it all and to find that part of herself that will give her strength to carry on. Is this an easy book to read? No. But what comes too easy is rarely worthwhile. Vanessa Gonzales has a fine ear for dialogue, a sense of pace and is a writer to look out for.
Profile Image for Lynda Archer.
Author 1 book41 followers
January 29, 2016
Want to get a sense of what's going on with the Millennial generation? Then dip into Gonzales' novel narrated by twenty-four year old Rachel, who ran from her parents' home in Utah when she was sixteen and presently works in a porn store in Seattle. Rachel is bright, feisty, funny and scared. She yearns to be deeply loved and accepted, not judged and criticized as she was by her Mormon parents. While this is a story of a young person's struggle to find herself, find her way, explore her sexuality, it is not a dark read. Not easily achieved, Gonzales does a great job of writing humour into Rachel's life. The scenes from the porn shop, for those of us who may not frequent such a place, are nicely detailed and very funny. And the reader is totally there when Rachel convinces Evan to help her take down the "speed hump" road sign to give to her best friend Sadie for her birthday.
This book does a great job of showing the reader the moment to moment joys and dreams, struggles and sometimes poor choices made in the spur of the moment by people in their twenties, (that all of us can relate to), trying to find their way. Poignancy and humour are well balanced. Well done !
March 17, 2016
When I initially started reading The Light in the Sound, I felt refreshed to finally see an honest approach to the description of what it is to be a young adult. I wanted to keep devouring this story of Rachel, a clearly strong willed young woman with a brutally honest outlook on life that is not so often portrayed.

I was immediately immersed in memories of how, at times, life can make no sense, and what it feels like to be stumbling around in the darkness that is adulthood.

The lament towards parental controls, and parental traditions hit close to home. I think that this is something every reader can relate too. It was comforting to know someone like Rachel existed, even if only in a novel.

The struggles that Rachel encounters with just existing is overwhelmingly comforting. Life isn't perfect and should not be portrayed as so. This novel does just that, with vivid imagery and character development, it is food for the soul.
Profile Image for Merilee.
1 review
March 21, 2016
I really enjoyed reading this book. This is coming from someone who usually doesn't read. But there was something so raw about the main character, Rachel. I found myself connecting to her, empathizing, and rooting for her. It was so compelling that I couldn't put the book down. I wanted to join her on her mysterious outings and the people she meets.

Vanessa's writing is like artwork. She paints the surroundings around you with her words. You get a very good sense of the characters, places, and things; as well as things that go beyond those, such as colors, tastes, and sounds. There were moments of sadness, frustration, laughter, and curiosity. Vanessa's storytelling is very entertaining, expressive, and addicting.
Profile Image for Stephen Kozan.
Author 4 books10 followers
January 25, 2016
Typically this genre isn't what I'm plucking from the shelves, but I felt compelled to give it a try based on the strength of the back cover.

I'm glad I did.

Vanessa paints with an extremely fine-bristled brush on her canvas of dialogue within the story. I felt one of her best strengths was capturing believable, movie script conversations between her characters. Her ability to maneuver so fluidly between character rebuttal was seamless.

Vanessa also does a great job depicting the main character's town and sometimes seedy environment.

Overall, this was a fun read for me. Again....not my type of genre, but Vanessa made it enjoyable and a snap to read.
Profile Image for Rachel.
16 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2020
This was very different from most books I usually pick up. That being said I didn’t know what to expect but I enjoyed the ride. Some parts were wordy and the ending seemed rushed, I wanted to know more about where her relationships ended up. Nonetheless reading a book about a girl named Rachel, 24, artist, just trying to figure out life with no support hit close to home.
Profile Image for Lori Byrd.
547 reviews14 followers
May 5, 2018
A clever, funny, laugh out loud book. I loved Rachel's character about working in a porn shop. I didn't know what to expect, but it met and surpassed all my expectations. Loved it.
Profile Image for Challa Fletcher.
Author 2 books133 followers
August 4, 2017
Rachel is just as simple girl who is trying to make the best decision for herself, without the overpowering theology forced on her by her family. Long since left home, Rachel makes a living working in a sex shop, which has the added bonus of infuriating her father and giving her access to her  crush who works in the photo shop. Rachel becomes wrapped up in a three person love/infatuation-ship and discovers news that makes her relationship with her father even more strained.

The Light in the Sound by Vanessa Gonzalez is a look into the life of a millennial as they discover who they are and what they can handle.

What Works: The Light in the Sound is a short book, but from the first sentence you are captured. Rachel does not hesitate to tell us exactly how she feels without being angry or bitter. I could relate to Rachel's behavior; the emotional fueled break and eventually being tired and fed up. Through the story we see how Rachel perceives everyone else, such as when she checks her outfit to ensure it doesn't cause a confrontation with her father. Or how after a fight with her best friend she knows the craziest thing to do to apologize. And finally, her self-destructive connection with the three very different types of people. Rachel is very relate-able and reminiscent of the mind of a young adult trying to get through life; learning what makes her happy even if it is just for the moment.

Though there are a slew of relationships in this story this book is not a YA romantic or a coming of age tale. We don't see any growth in Rachel. This leads me to . . . 

What Didn’t Work: This story didn’t have a concrete conclusion. With all the turmoil these characters are dealing with, I walked away wanting to know what happened next. All but three characters you are introduced to are hung in a balance of decisions, and the reader is left not knowing anything about how these characters lives progress. None of the characters come into any self revelation that leads to doing better. Another chapter would have worked nicely to tie up the loose ends. I know who I wanted Rachel to choose and it was the character we learned the least about. With no talk of a sequel from the author, we are left holding the bag, or in this case maybe the sign.

The Light in the Sound is a easy book to read that will hold your attention to the end. You will relate to the main character, whether you are fresh in your twenties, or if you are decades past. Vanessa Gonzales is a clear and concise writer, with a key sense in developing real life characters.

For its easy flow and great description, but lacking of a more solid conclusion, The Light in the Sound by Vanessa Gonzalez gets a 3.75.

Happy Reading and Get the Red Boots.  
Profile Image for Dan Santos.
Author 6 books20 followers
May 15, 2020
Refreshingly, this is a hybrid genre novel; slightly beyond the “coming of age” sort, it’s more accurately an “OK, I’m here. Now what?” tale.

V.G. Anderson tells the story of a 24 year old finally away from a strict religious environment whose spark of independence lands her a job in a sex toy shop. She rationalizes it pays ten times better than McDonalds, but leaves the reader the impression it is her refuge from the night terrors she suffers. Yes, Rachel is a well-developed, complex protagonist.

The author writes with a refined, understated sense of humor, which compels the judgmental reader to not condemn its morality; just enjoy it. It also cradles the normal person’s imaginative comfort. Masterfully handling all known literary devices, it is unabashedly entertaining.

My enthusiastic recommendation on the bathroom wall? For a good time, READ.THIS.BOOK.

Five incredibly well deserved Stars!
1 review
November 27, 2021
The intriguing title caught my attention. After reading a few reviews plus the book description, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I followed through. Vanessa is an excellent writer, concise, insightful and easy to read. Once started I couldn’t put the book down. That’s always a good sign. The author effectively builds each of the vastly different characters. I could relate to all of them in some fashion. Most of them had a counter part that matched friends that I had growing up. Although I am male, I especially related to the main character Rachel. She had some real challenges to overcome, not unlike those in real life. Her journey was quite intriguing.

I give the book an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I loved every page and hated to see it end. I look forward to the authors next book.
Profile Image for Gary.
36 reviews2 followers
April 11, 2016
Rachel Richardson is searching for something, a new life, a place to be, and people she can trust enough to be there with her. With Rachel, Vanessa Gonzales has given us a protagonist we can follow and believe in, mostly because we can see ourselves in her. Whether or not we’ve worked in a porn shop or grown up in a dysfunctional religious home, Rachel seems familiar, and it's easy to care about her. On top of this, there’s a brilliant cast of supporting players, each and every one of whom I would gladly read in stories of their own. Anyone who’s ever been lost, alone, or terrified at the prospect of what happens tomorrow should read the often hilarious and always compelling The Light in the Sound.
Profile Image for Joseph Benedict.
Author 4 books2 followers
April 11, 2016
This book is not at all like what I normally read, but it's a fascinating story with a compelling character. Rachel's struggle to figure out life and love kept me turning the pages. Definitely pick it up.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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