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The Way the Light Bends

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Virtual twins Linc and Holly were once extremely close. But while artistic, creative Linc is her parents' daughter biologically, it's smart, popular Holly, adopted from Ghana as a baby, who exemplifies the family's high-achieving model of academic success.

Linc is desperate to pursue photography, to find a place of belonging, and for her family to accept her for who she is,
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Kate Olson
Thanks so much to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

As in her previous work, Jensen writes this story in poetic verse, but this time with a great variation in structure. THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS seems to me even more poetic in nature, more abstract and artistic in form than SKYSCRAPING or EVERY SHINY THING, in a way that definitely requires more of the reader. This isn't typical fiction written in verse, this is verse that requires a discerning
Thank you so much to Cordelia Jensen for sending me an ARC! This book comes out in March 2018! There are things that I absolutely loved about this book, and other things that I thought were just okay. This story follows a girl named Linc, who has an adopted sister named Holly. She is always trying to live up to her Mom's expectations of her, and she has this constant feeling of letting her parents down and failing to live up to their high standards. This story is told in poetic verse, and is bea ...more
alice (arctic books)
You can find this review and others at arctic books

THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS is a wonderfully written free-verse novel. It’s beautiful and genuine, and it’s now one of my favorite books. I look forward to what Jensen has to offer in the future.

This novel focuses on Linc’s struggle through high school and her relationship with her adopted sister Holly. Linc is incredibly artistically talented but doesn’t do well in school, while Holly does, making Linc feel like her biological parents prefer Holly
Inn Auni
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, poetry
"Mom, you're crying."

That was the moment I realized how good this book is. I felt Linc deep in my heart. The sense of wanting to belong. I looked at my kids and cried some more. Because just like Linc's mom, I thought what I was doing was for them. When I never ask them what they want. My daughter want to be a cheff and my son want to be a gamer. And now I knew.

This book is not just about Linc finding her 'place' but also a journey for me. When a literature help you to see things differently, to
Kali Cole
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written novel told through fluid verse and detailed words. A story about sisters, family, success, failure, & healing. Although it was a seemingly slow story, it only took me a matter of hours to be sucked in through a whirlwind of grief, release, rebellion, & acceptance. I was not expecting such an amazing story and I’m glad I got to read this.
Katherine Paschal
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, read-to-review
**Review on**

I will be the first to admit that I don't read poetry, ever- I have never sought it out, connected to it or enjoyed it in any way; really it is something I try to avoid if being totally honest. That being said, this book was completely written in free verse and it was gorgeous. Cordelia was able to convey so much emotional heartbreak, turmoil, love, struggle, and angst, through the use of her words. But not only word choice, but word placement o
Suze Lavender
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Linc and Holly are sisters. They're almost the same age and consider themselves twins. Holly is adopted and Linc is a biological daughter. Linc is the creative sister and Holly the athletic one with academic success. Their mother loves everything Holly does, but doesn't approve of anything Linc finds important. This makes it hard for Linc to pursue her dreams. She'd love to go to art school and would like to take photography lessons, but her parents just care about her grades and nothing else.

Jenni Frencham
Jensen, Cordelia. The Way the Light Bends. Philomel Books, 2018.

Linc is the artistic sister. She loves photography, and her mind is always seeing things in motion and the way objects can capture a moment. Holly, Linc's sister who was adopted when Linc was just a baby, is the smart one. She is doing fantastically at school, is athletic, and constantly pleases their parents. Meanwhile, Linc's mom only ever seems to nag Linc and point out how she could be more like Holly if she just Tried Harder. L
Laura Gardner
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5 for THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS by @cordeliajensen1 ; thanks to @theloudlibrarylady and @kidlitexchange for this ARC. All opinions are my own.
Linc and Holly are virtual twins; Linc is white and Holly was adopted from Ghana as a baby. And yet, although Linc is biologically related to their parents, she feels apart from the family as the artistic black sheep who struggles academically. When an opportunity presents itself for Linc to explore her creative side, she goes for it, bu
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book a four out of five stars because 1) I won it in a Goodreads giveaway so it was free and worth a star and 2) it had great imagery. The imagery mention sounds like something from a literature class but this whole book was literally about imagery so I feel the need to mention it. The writing style took a bit to get used to but it was an interesting way to tell a story and I applaud that. The character development of all of the characters was pretty good especially with Linc. I ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

I won this book through a giveaway on Goodreads and I am so happy that I did! This is a novel written in free verse poetry, and that made it a quick read while still allowing the emotions that characters were feeling to percolate through in the narration. It has definitely been the most uniquely-written book I have read thus far, and now I am wanting to read more books that don't follow the "traditional" writing techniques. It was also a very easy book to read and every single sentenc
Elisa Zied
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! A great and quick read for any teen who struggles to be who they are while conforming to who they think they’re supposed to be. Also loved learning about the history of Central Park and viewing Linc’s world through her mind-camera and real camera. I highly recommend this book to teens and their parents (as well as writers). This book even makes me want to try my hand at verse.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
#partner @kidlitexchange

The Way the Light Bends

By Cordelia Jensen @cordeliajensen1


Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

This is my second novel in verse by @cordeliajensen and it was just as memorable as the first!

Linc and Holly are virtual twins. Holly was adopted as an infant from Ghana and Linc was surprisingly born a short time later. As children, Linc and Holly were inseparable, even though it soon became apparent that Holly was a h
Dec 09, 2017 added it
Beautiful story, beautifully told. Full review to come.


Full review:
Do you love electric, heartrending stories about the bonds that bind families? Do you enjoy stories told in carefully-cracked lines of free-verse poetry? Do you long to travel to New York through vividly-woven world-building?

If so, you HAVE to give Cordelia's Jensen's work a try. Keep reading to find out why you should pick up The Way the Light Bends (or click here if you're interested in Skyscraping, her debut novel centered a
Laura Chase
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued by the fact that this novel was writen in verse. I wasn't sure I would like it as I'm not much of a poetry reader.
I found that the farther the book progressed the better I liked it and enjoyed this style, I really liked the character of Linc and her artistic abilitiy as a photographer.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A short read, but powerful and intense...
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS by Cordelia Jensen centers on Lincoln, a high school student at a prestigious private high school in New York City. Throughout her childhood, Lincoln was overshadowed by her adopted sister, Holly, and her numerous achievements that emulated their accomplished mother’s success. Lincoln and Holly were inseparable when they were younger, until their mother realized Holly’s potential and qualities that paralleled her own and suddenly placed more importance on Holly’s life. Bo ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
So, I'm not big on books about art students. The problem starts because art student characters tend to have this pretentiousness that other characters don't and I've never seen an art student character thats different from the rest of them. Despite that, the adoption factor of this story really made me want to read it so I picked it up anyway. 

I usually don't like the writing in poetry-poetry novels but this as an exception. Jensen is an amazing writer and I was engrossed in her words (if not th
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen tells a story of Linc, a teenager trying to navigate the teenage life with parents with high expectations. While her twin sister Holly is smart and popular, Linc struggles to pass school and to relate to her peers. She feels like she doesn’t really fit in amongst her school and how they learn, and she has always felt that her true talents lie in photography and arts. She wants her talent in photography to be acknowledged. However, her mom hyper focuses ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Way Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen. 396 pages. Philomel (Penguin), 2018. $16.

Language: Mature content: PG (LGBT) Violence: G



This is the story of Holly and Linc. Two sisters. One adopted (Holly) and one born to the parents shortly after Holly was adopted. The two girls are just months apart in age and think of themselves as twins. The family focus is on academic achievement and Holly can do no wrong. Linc is creative and artistic and loves
May 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I had never read a book like this before (outside of college, anyway)--a short novel in poetic verse. Such a thing is always a matter of whether the poetic style clicks with my brain or not, and this definitely did! It was artistic in a way that conveyed emotions and moments with new perspective, new feeling. I like that the main character--and our narrator--was into photography, because in some ways, this book felt like meaningful moments caught in photos, just visualized as words instead. That ...more
May 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens and young adults interested in the subjects listed in the tags
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul  Hankins
We are considering using this book in Room 407 with the students enrolled in English 11 during the 2018-2019 school year. Allusions to and treatment of Seneca Village invites "ladders" with Marilyn Nelson's MY SENECA VILLAGE (this is the early look at our approach with the book).

Two sisters separated by only a few months and one large sea are finding their way to their own interests in a home that demands academic excellence from its daughters. Ghana-born Holly is able to meet these demands and
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2020
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariel Hess
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected unfinished copy. 

Overall this book reads like a contemporary young adult realistic fiction. The family dynamics in this novel felt r
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book in a goodreads giveaway.
What can I say about this book? That it drew me in? That I couldn't put it down and finished it in the early hours of the following day after I got it in the mail? Yes and yes! I loved it. The Way the Light Bends tells the story of Linc, a young teen trying to find where she fits in in a family where academic achievement is valued but isn't where her talents lie. Her adopted sister can do no wrong but biological and artistically minded Linc
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cordelia Jensen's verse novel, like Skyscraping, is the story of relationships and the ways "the composition of a relationship changes as we change individually." (p.380) Though they used to be "in tempo/ in time" (p. 4), sisters Linc and Holly in their sophomore year are following "two paths/ one in light/ one in shadow/ diverging." (p. 5) They have different skills and talents—and different dreams. Holly, though adopted, appears to fit more easily into the family and consistently wins her pare ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyc, novel-in-verse
High school growing up and being a misfit in your school and family. What if you see your life through an artistic lens and the rest of your family is much more academic?

I really hate how Linc's parents thought she just needed to "work harder". On the other hand, she was more motivated in certain situations. It does illustrate the truth that taking away things people love doesn't give them more motivation to do what they dislike.

It's interesting how both Linc and her sister faced boy problems. T
Laura Sibson
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In both her debut verse novel, Skyscraping, as well as her latest verse novel, The Way the Light Bends, Jensen evokes New York City with such clarity that I feel as though I am there, walking the city streets with her characters. In this latest book, Linc spends time in Central Park researching Seneca Village, the community of people who lived there before they were pushed out to create the park. Jensen uses the history of Seneca Village and Linc's passion for photography to convey the powerful ...more
Jayme Carruthers
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
@KidLitExchange #partner

Thanks to the #KidLitExchange for the review copy of The Way the Light Bends. All opinions are my own.

Linc feels like an outsider in her family. Once close to her sister, Holly, she feels like she's always second best. Her parents certainly seem to love Holly more. She's smarter than Linc is. More popular. Linc wants to find a way to show that she's worth it too.

Linc wants to pursue photography. She feels that she expresses herself much better though pictures than throug
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