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Picture Us in the Light

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,595 ratings  ·  468 reviews
Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD an
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
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West Min Absolutely. It's not all centered on the romance aspect of the book- which, is gay- and I think that's really important. It doesn't make the…moreAbsolutely. It's not all centered on the romance aspect of the book- which, is gay- and I think that's really important. It doesn't make the character's feelings for someone of the same gender anything abnormal or strange. It treats romance the same way books do when they're about straight people.
For me, it's incredibly important to see something so natural. Not another coming out story, though those are good. The book doesn't dedicate a large portion to Daniel's feelings about his own sexuality, or whatever. That's not his personal journey at this point. At this point, it's not a big deal, so Danny never uses the word "gay" to describe himself. There aren't the gay jokes or the awkward scenarios. This isn't about being gay. It's about Danny being himself.
That's not to say that they bury the romance in this. The relationship is a big part of the book, and it definitely isn't hidden. One of my favorite things about this book is how beautifully Danny's feelings are described. They're powerful but hidden, and his perspective of the person he loves is skewed by his bias, of course, but it's also transparent and honest. It's deep and so viscerally real that you can feel how Danny feels in your chest.
So, for me, I would recommend this 100% to LGBTQ+ people. It's the most validating book I've read, and I read a lot of LGBTQ+ themed books. (less)

Community Reviews

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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,595 ratings  ·  468 reviews

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Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
every once in a while, you come across a book where it feels as if your hands are simply not strong enough to hold the immense weight of it on their own. and so your heart steps in, saying, ‘dont worry. i will carry the heaviness of this story. i will take on that burden.’

and with every beat, every pulse, you begin to feel that pressure. because its the kind of weight that stays with you for a long time, a particular kind of density that makes a home inside your chest.

i can feel how my heart n
This is the best young-adult book I have read since Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe , and I loved Picture Us in the Light even more than Ari and Dante. I cried for several minutes after reading the last page; I felt like my heart had been overrun by emotion in the best way. This is the book I wish I could give to my younger gay, Asian American self and the book I will promote with all of my heart until the day I die. Picture Us in the Light has everything I could ever w ...more
Larry H
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars, rounded up because I'm a big softie.

Boy, there is a lot going on in this book! There was a period of time where I really wasn't sure what Kelly Loy Gilbert wanted the crux of the story to be, but in the end, this was a lovely, emotional book about the complexity of our relationships with family and friends, the destructive nature of secrets, and how self-acceptance can set your demons to rest.

Danny Cheng has dreamed of being an artist for as long as he can remember.
Elyse Walters
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This beautifully written- sensitive - Young Adult novel - exploring very real confusing & painful themes - takes place right here in Silicon Valley- in the heart of the SF Bay Area.

Daniel, a high school student -talented artist was just accepted to his dream Art College on the other side of the country... so ready to bolt Cupertino- leave his SAT-studying-AP-4.8 GPA- Asian community. He’s one of these top students - Welcome to Cupertino!!!
...and the Chinese American- driven kids and their
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's hard not to lose your foothold when someone peers inside you, sees all those things you tried the hardest to keep hidden, all those ugly shames you've tried to tell yourself aren't really as bad as they seem. All those lies disintegrate in the light.

As I was reading this, I thought this was going to be the book that made up for every shitty book I've read so far for the past...days, weeks and, well, overall last month. The book gods had finally decided it was time for me to enjoy a book
Good God, how does a person write like this. Reading Kelly Loy Gilbert is like willing settling into a cloud of increasingly darkening doom and yet I will happily do it every single time. Also, I don't know why no one told me this book was gay but it is totally gay. I was a little "ehhhh?" about the fact that it never uses the word, but I think it's because Danny's more narrowly focused on the fact of being in love with his best friend than the fact of being gay and he never quite sees past it? ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review

2 eyebrow raising stars

This is a real tough one because the content of the story tackles serious issues, such as, suicide, sexuality, and the pressure on young people to live up to their parent's expectations (especially when, like Danny, you are the only child of immigrants) something which I believe many people-young and old could certainly connect with but I felt it all very boring because something was missing in ma
He looks unruffled. Why did it feel like a lightning bolt to me, then?

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be this: disconnected. It’s well-written, with thoughtful characters, but it pulls you all over the place. At one point I thought it was exploring the grief of losing a friend, and then it was the grief of losing a family member, and then it was exploring the struggles of moving away from home and friends, dealing with fighting parents, struggling with trying to be creative
This book exceeded every expectation that I had for it.

To set the scene; I was at the bookstore about to buy a different book, when my friend picked up this one. She read the blurb and thought that it sounded interesting, and since our Queen Becky Albertalli endorsed it, she figured that I should give it a shot. I was hesitant, as I'd never heard of this book and wanted to read another one more. My friend persisted, and wore me down by saying "read it and tell me what you think, so then I can re
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I were to describe Picture Us in the Light in one word it might be “complex.” Or maybe “squishy.” “Beautiful.”


I have a bad (?) habit of not fully reading synopsis before picking up a book. Really, I don’t need to when it comes to Kelly and her books. Conviction is easily one of the books you’ll ever read so there was exactly zero chance I wouldn’t love this.

I sit here, a week after finishing, unable to read anything else. Danny’s story isn’t just the story of a child of immigrants, of
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT, like THUNDERHEAD, is a book I will shoving down everyone’s throats for the rest of the year my life. I was initially drawn in by the beautiful cover and then I was captivated from the first page and finished in my usual fashion: crying uncontrollably into my teddy bear and pillow.

So, #sorrynotsorry for name-dropping this book up the wazoo…because I will not rest until everyone has read this beautiful book and we can all gush together.

The 411: Danny Cheng is a high school
Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert is a beautiful book that tackles many tough issues. There are multiple themes throughout the story that will open your eyes and rip your heart out at the same time. The writing is compelling and beautiful making this one of my favourite reads so far this year.

Full review on The Candid Cover
Maria (Big City Bookworm)

Actual rating: 3.5 stars rated down.


What I Liked

The mystery. Sure, the synopsis gives a hint at a bit of a mystery that is contained within this novel, however, I didn't think it would play such a huge part in this story. I think that this mystery was one of the main reasons I felt the need to continue reading, even when the story started to drag a little (which I'll talk more about a little later). I wanted to know the secrets that Danny's parents were keeping from him and I could not stop re
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
This is not going to appeal to every reader. I already know that for a fact. It’s the kind of story that reads slower than most of my usual fare, and it’s heavy - heavy in the sense that so many issues are raised in the story. But I ended up being unable to tear myself away from the story, and watching it unfold was excruciating but also compelling.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert is out today!!! For fans of YA contemporary fiction this is absolutely a must-read. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year and one that I will happily be foisting upon everyone I know.

When it comes to contemporary fiction, I love both the super swoony romantic contemporaries and the gorgeously written, emotionally evocative ones. Picture Us in the Light certainly falls into the latter category. This book is so smart, heart-stinging,
Rachel Strolle
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔
I'm adding this to my Want to Read just to ask what's going on with the sort of Asian names? Harry Wong? Danny Cheng? Regina Chan? It sounds like someone at Disney didn't want names to be too Asian because WOAH THE WHITE PEOPLE WON'T LIKE THAT
Lilly (Lair Of Books)
Starting this one tonight for a blog tour I will be participating in on May 7th, I've heard such wonderful things about this book that's been flying under the radar. I LIVE for those stories about family, friendships, futures, and the complexities of love. Our POC main character is Gay and is struggling with telling his best friend he has feelings for him. I'm hoping Danny Cheng is my new fave MC...

The Blog tour has kicked off to a start over at Tales Of The Ravenous Reader head on over there fo
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

This book has taken all words away from me. I finished it sobbing and days later I don't think I can even do justice to the beauty of this book. After this book I needed the biggest of all hugs. Picture Us in the Light is wonderful. It has skyrocketed into my top contemporaries. It tackles hard topics: suicide, adoption, family, immigration, and more. But it handles each of them s
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Where do even start with this book?!?! At first, I thought it would be similar to Ari and Dante’s story (which I absolutely ADORED), but it was and wasn’t and SO MUCH MORE. This story is about high school senior Daniel Cheng, who just got admissions to his dream art college, who is trying to uncover the truth to a family secret, who is dealing with the loss of a peer to suicide, who is fulfilling his obligations as a Chinese American child of immigrants, who is navigating love/friendship with hi ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful book, get ready to feel all the feels . Deals with a lot of issues ... Proceed with caution...
Lara Kareem
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m going to tell you one thing, the blurb is a brief explanation of the story, it is what happens, but the story itself is the unravelling, the why, what, when, who, where and how. When the questions were answered for me, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of pain and loss. no matter how the story ends, it will forever be bittersweet.

This book is amazing because the majority of the characters are of Asian descent. Bonus points for me (I am fully behind supporting diverse books). We follow th
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I've read a contemporary that's so gripping and Real and nuanced and devastating yet healing in a while

CW/TWs: depression, suicide, panic attacks, adoption, human trafficking
Nicole Hewitt
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

This is one of those books that I'll be thinking about for a long time. There was just so much substance to it, and it addressed several important topics from unique perspectives.

The problem is, this is a tough book to review without spoiling things, so I'm going to be very general in my review. Trust me when I say you should just read it for yourself!

What Fed My Addiction:

Covers all the issues.
Without feeling like an
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow. I’m pretty sure I missed a lot because I read this so fast, but I just couldn’t stop. I’m so jealous of the writing; it’s absolutely amazing. Everything.... felt so important. Everything was so well written. I had such intense feelings about everyone, especially the parents. So much devastation and yet (I think) a very hopeful ending. Wow wow wow.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can’t even expressed in words how good this book is. If you haven’t given it a read, please do! It’s definitely worth it
Jessica Jeffers
This is a hard book to review because I think that it was very well-done and it had so much potential, but ultimately, there was just too much going on to focus on doing any one thing as well as possible.

Danny is a high school senior who is simultaneously excited and nervous about moving from California to Rhode Island for art school in the next school year. But a wrench gets thrown into his plans when he discovers that his parents—immigrants from China—are keeping one heck of a secret from him
Ashley Blake
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, lgbtqiap
Maybe the most perfect book ever. Just saying.
Elise (TheBookishActress)
so, uh, can someone drop the info as to whether or not this actually is lgbtq
A Lib Tech Reads
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed

Picture Us in the Light
Kelly Loy Gilbert
Rating: 3/5
Note: Special thanks to Hachette Book Group for providing an ARC for review.
Buddy read with Lola Reviewer

This sounded to me like a complicated LGBTQ love story and for once, I was ready for it. The summary made it seem like there'd be a lot of lovesick, forlorn and almost tragic pining our protagonist would have to go through because his crush is "in love" with a girl, who also happens to be one of Danny's good friends. Despite that, however, I
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Kelly Loy Gilbert is the author of CONVICTION and PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT (Disney-Hyperion, spring 2018). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Other people don't exist just to be your happy ending, you know?” 12 likes
“It's hard not to lose your foothold when someone peers inside you, sees all those things you tried the hardest to keep hidden, all those ugly shames you've tried to tell yourself aren't really as bad as they seem. All those lies disintegrate in the light.” 7 likes
More quotes…