Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Certain Slant of Light (Light, #1)” as Want to Read:
A Certain Slant of Light (Light, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Certain Slant of Light

(Light #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  18,821 ratings  ·  1,891 reviews
In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challen ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published September 21st 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,821 ratings  ·  1,891 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Certain Slant of Light (Light, #1)
Wendy Darling
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of beautiful writing
4.5 stars Wow. Is this really being shelved in young adult fiction? Laura Whitcomb's writing is deliciously wordy, witty, and wonderful, and the story surprisingly complex with many mature themes. The author did a fantastic job of minding the formal speech and thought patterns of Helen's background and contrasting them with the jarring reality of present day, all while ruminating on human existence and forgiveness and the value of a life well-lived. This is an exceptionally intelligent YA book t ...more
Emily May
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, pnr, 2012

This is a book I've had sitting on my shelf for over a year, I'd heard plenty of good things about it but still remained sceptical* about the whole ghosts + romance thing. Eh, really? Ghosts are somewhere down near zombies on the sexiness scale, could I really become invested in such a relationship? Apparently yes, but these ghosts have found a way around the whole touching predicament (and wasted no time getting back into it) by possessing the bodies of people whose souls have abandoned the
May 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
What a disappointing read this was. After seeing all the high ratings for this (including my own daughter's 4-star rating), I was eagerly anticipating a unique and touching ghost story. Sad to say, nothing in this story touched me in any way, and in fact it's one of the worst books I've read in 2011 so far, filled with ham-fisted stereotypes and unbelievable character actions.

Whitcomb actually had a fairly interesting premise starting out. Helen, a young woman dead for 150 years, makes her way o
Morgan F
I started this book the day the world ended. No, not in a literal 2012-tsunami-earthquake kinda way, but in a my-cell-phone-and-laptop-just-so-happened-to-break-on-the-same-day kinda way. And when you are a 17 year old girl, that is really, really bad. So while I was rolling around on the ground suffering from texting withdrawl, a thought occurred to me: Go read a book, you idjit! So I did. And in no time at all, I forgot the outside world existed.

To say I loved this book would be a severe unde
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, urban-fantasy, 2009
I don't think I would have read this book if it wasn't recommended to me. I am just not that into ghosts. However this book is so much more than that. It is about love and finding peace and happiness in your (after)life. The motives of forbidden and impossible love and "body snatching" reminded me strongly of certain Stephenie Meyer novels we all know, but SM's books seem to a be pile of mediocrity in comparison to A Certain Slant of Light. The depth of feeling SM failed to achieve in 3000 pages ...more
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars

One of my dearest friends once told me that she does not brush her teeth or do any other hygiene related activities in front of her husband because she wants to “preserve the mystery.” What mystery? That your teeth get dirty when you eat and they need to be cleaned? I like and respect this friend, but it’s little comments like that one which gradually led me to realize that we have completely different views on what is or isn’t romantic. I am more of a “warts and all” romance apprecia
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Opening Line:"Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you're dead."

This is one of the best books that I've read in a long time. And although it's being touted as YA this can absolutely be enjoyed by adults and as one I'll be recommending it to all my friends. It's just a beautiful story of fated romance no matter what your age.

A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT tells the story of a girl named Helen who's been dead for a 130 years. She is now a ghost or "light" as the author calls her existe
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Well, if I had one word to describe this book it would be Weird. It is definitely weird and maybe a bit disturbing if you really thing about it. (view spoiler) But this is fiction so I'll take the disturbing and roll with it, and I still quite enjoyed the story.

It's hard to explain what the book is about without getting spoiler-y. So just quickly, it's about a ghost with no recollection of her death who clings to humans to
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a difficult, beautiful and fascinating book. It wasn't riveting or necessarily suspenseful, although it was filled with incredibly unique descriptions from a ghost's point of view, that if I didn't know any better, I would sincerely believe the author actually spent time as one.

Helen is a ghost and for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. Those eyes belong to a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. Helen is terrified and also unnerved by the fact that he can s
Asghar Abbas
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Now, this was an actual ghost story. But it is not horror. The distinction is an important one. Not all ghosts haunt nor all memories hurt. It took me a while to understand the title, I am so slow sometimes, but when I finally got it, I was like, ok that's clever.

The silence in this book absolutely reminded me of the one in Never Let me Go, it's gorgeous. It would be interesting to see if they make a movie out of this. Under a stylistic director, preferably European, maybe Nicolas Winding Refn?
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
TBR Reduction Challange #4 (Kirsten)

I have never read anything like this before!

I must admit that it took me some time to get used to the whole concept of body snatching and that I could never really shake the feeling that James and Helen were doing something wrong by inhabiting those "empty" bodies but nevertheless, after about 50 pages I was completely hooked. I remember going through a mass of different emotions while reading this. I loved seeing how James and Helen experienced how it is to b
Jun 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
For some reason, I feel as though to be able to review this book, I need to qualify whatever I'm going to say with the fact that I'm not really a romantic person. I believe in the possibility of establishing a human connection with someone after first meeting, and I believe in the possibility of lust at first sight. But I also believe that there is a giant difference between infatuation and lust, and actual love. And yes, to me infatuation and lust are more common but much lesser entities than t ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: supernatural
Ugh. So many things I hate about this book. Newsflash, Helen: the reason you didn't get into heaven is because you suck! It's not a badly written book-parts of it are actually quite beautiful. But the plot fills me with so much rage!!! For example, right after you and your ghost boyfriend have sex during your free period at school, you tell your mom that he's a gentleman. NO. HE'S NOT. First of all, gentlemen don't skip class to do it with you in the auditorium. Second of all, those aren't your ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ok, I can here you all shouting "We told you so, we told you so!!!" It was awesome, unlike any other book i've ever read. WOW, just WOW!!!!

This is a story of a Spirit, Light as named in the book. The Spirit of Helen, who has shadowed people for over 100 years. Helen who finally meets someone who can see her, James. James who is also a 'spirit', but he has inhabited a person's body, someone who seemed to have no spirit left. Helen is amazed. She finds her 'body'. A girl named Jenny. We follow Hel
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: Wendy Darling
'That I am your heart's secret fills me with song. I wish I could sing of you here in my cage. You are my heart's hidden poem. I reread you, memorize you every moment we're apart.'

This was a real shocker for me that I enjoyed it as much as I did. For one, this has been on and off my TBR shelf several times as I would occasionally decide that this is simply not for me and I have no plans to read it. But go figure a few months later it pops up on my Goodreads timeline, I take another glance and de
Oct 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oh my, this book was good. I only meant to read it during my lunch hour, but I found myself engrossed. Needless to say, I didn't get much work done yesterday.

It's a ghost story, but not a scary one. Helen has been dead for 130 years and remembers only that she was a woman who had been married. She finds herself stuck between earth and hell, knowing that something about how she died is keeping her from heaven. She attaches to "hosts" who don't know she's there but still feel her influence somehow
There's so much to say about this book that I fear that my words will not be good enough. A Certain Slant of Light is unconventional in so many ways.

First of all it is labeled as a YA but it is not a YA book.
The main character is 27 year old Helen who died 130 years ago and she's been haunting people ever since. She wants to go to Heaven, wants to cross over, but something mysterious and painfully terrifying is keeping her in between worlds. So in order to keep the pain at bay she clings to peo
Kat (Lost in Neverland)
Helen had been dead for over 130 years, moving between human 'hosts' who she follows around and lives with. If one dies, she must find another host or be dragging into a dark, frightening hell-like existence underground. She is on her fifth host, an English teacher named Mr. Brown. Up until recently, no one has been able to see or hear her, except a boy in Mr. Brown's class.
The boy's name is Billy, but he tells her his real name is James. He is also dead, and he had found an 'empty' human body t
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
A Certain Slant of Light is both a pleasant surprise and...not. On one hand, I am incredibly impressed with Whitcomb's story. It is a paranormal love story, but of a very different nature than most. Helen and James, the couple in question, are ghosts left behind in the Light, having been dead for nearly 130 years. Thus, when they find each other and take over two teenage bodies to be together, their relationship is an adult one - only in a teenage body. Needless to say, this brings up quite a fe ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to read a
Recommended to Penny by: Reviewer X (blog)
I was told it is a modern ghost story. But really, it is so much more then just a ghost story. Yes, the main character, Helen, is dead. And yes, I will admit Helen haunts people, or rather, attaches herself to certain people. But the people she "haunts" are, for the most part, unaware of her presence. She doesn't go around scaring people. So I want to make it clear, this isn't a spooky ghost story. When all is said and done, this story is about love, self-discovery and forgiveness.

Laura Whitcom
May 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rachel by: Tatiana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are a few reasons why I decided to give this novel a 5 star rating. They are as follows:

1. I cried at the end. I cannot say that about many books.
2. It's just different. The story is unique. The characters are as well. Overall, I've never read anything like it.
3. I adore the main character (Helen) and her James.
4. I enjoy Ms. Whitcomb's writing style. It's poetic and lovely to read.
5. I couldn't put this book down. At one point I was reading it while waiting at a red light. Yeah.... Not su
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing

5 Haunting Stars!

It took a few pages before the book grabbed me and then it didn't let go. A very emotional read and so different from anything I've read. To summarize it without giving anything away I would say it was about two souls saving two souls. Loved it!
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amerie by: Wendy Darling
Shelves: 2013-faves
Whitcomb seamlessly blends literary, fantasy, and even a bit of gothic horror. The writing is beautifully poetic but not florid, and the humanity of the ghost protagonist comes through so clearly it was easy to identify with her pain and desires.
Rinoa Heartilly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This is very close to 4 stars.

I'm a bit shocked that all quotes listed on goodreads from this novel only concern the romance side of the story, because it has much more to offer.

This is the story of two ghosts who have been haunting people and places for decades, alone, without knowing why they were stuck on earth. When they finally meet, they fall in love and try to find their way, to find happiness.

The love story is touching and beautifully told, both characters are very likeable. It just make
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: Wendy Darling
3.5 stars.

I liked this tale of two lurid lovers, but I didn't enjoy it enough to give it a higher rating.

Laura Whitcomb's writing was wonderful, considering A Certain Slant of Light is her debut novel. It's sensational yet sweet, hair-raising yet unhurried - there were a few quotes I took special notice of but now regret not writing down. After quickly scanning the first chapter or two, here's a quote that I think shows her talent:

"I had two strong and seemingly contradictory sensations. One was
Rebeca Reads
So I have nothing bad to say about this book except that I wish I found out for sure what happened to Mr. Brown, but that does not even matter because I HEARTED this book! I mean I can only guess that things turned out okay for him too with the way things ended. A Certain Slant of Light was just not what I thought it was going to be at all and I was pleasantly surprised by the plot of this story, so full of twist and turns. Just wish the book was longer just to find out if the real Billy and Je ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
”…When you are Light, it is not the breeze of your rushing past a flower that makes it tremble. Nor it is the brush of your skirts that starts a drape fluttering. When you are Light, it is only your emotions that can send a ripple into the tangible world. A flash of frustration when your host closes a novel he is reading too soon might stir his hair and cause him to check the window for a draft. A sigh of mourning at the beauty of a rose you cannot smell might startle a bee away. Or a silent lau ...more
NewMoonGirl (Hazel)
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
This was an amazing read & brilliantly written. I just loved every part of it and I thought the end was beautifully done. A great romance with a difference!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blood and Chocolate
  • What Happened to Lani Garver
  • Starcrossed
  • Lush
  • Virtuosity
  • Saving June
  • Kissing Coffins (Vampire Kisses, #2)
  • The Mercy of Thin Air
  • Guitar Girl
  • Vampire Kisses (Vampire Kisses, #1)
  • La voce invisibile del vento
  • Entra nella mia vita
  • El cielo ha vuelto
  • The Secret Sky
  • The Summoning (Sisters of Isis, #1)
  • Royal Blood (Vampire Kisses, #6)
  • The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End
  • Into Bones like Oil
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Laura Whitcomb grew up in Pasadena, California in a mildly haunted house. She received her English degree at California State University at Northridge in 1993. She has taught Language Arts in California and Hawaii. She has won three Kay Snow Awards and was once runner up in the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest for the best first sentence of the worst Science Fiction novel never written. In her spare ...more

Other books in the series

Light (2 books)
  • Under the Light (Light, #2)

Related Articles

With his new horror novel, The Only Good Indians, author Stephen Graham Jones conjures one of the most effective scary images to ever hover in that...
66 likes · 8 comments
“The library smells like old books — a thousand leather doorways into other worlds. I hear silence, like the mind of God. I feel a presence in the empty chair beside me. The librarian watches me suspiciously. But the library is a sacred place, and I sit with the patron saint of readers. Pulsing goddess light moves through me for one moment like a glimpse of eternity instantly forgotten. She is gone. I smell mold, I hear the clock ticking, I see an empty chair. Ask me now and I'll say this is just a place where you can't play music or eat. She's gone. The library sucks.” 136 likes
“I couldn't take my eyes off him. Like a desert wanderer afraid of mirages, I gazed at my oasis, but he was real.” 103 likes
More quotes…