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The Light Years
Chris Rush
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The Light Years

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  625 ratings  ·  162 reviews
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

The Light Years is a joyous and defiant coming-of-age memoir set during one of the most turbulent times in American history

"This stunningly beautiful, original memoir is driven by a search for the divine, a quest that leads Rush into some dangerous places . . . The Light Years is funny, harrowing, and deeply tender." —Kate Tutt
ebook, 384 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Lynn Trenton area, according to his mention of his parents entertaining the priests of the Trenton Diocese.
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  625 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2019
I read and reviewed this memoir for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found.

A fast-paced coming-of-age tale about growing up gay during the sixties and seventies, The Light Years recounts a tumultuous adolescence and muses about what it means it to find self-acceptance as a queer teen. The memoir centers on the author's fraught relationship with his feuding parents, but the bulk of it focuses on the time he spent away from affluent New England home as a teen. In vivid prose, Rush brin
Amy Bruestle
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I want to start of by saying that I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

5 stars! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ WOW!

Honestly, I am really picky when it comes to memoirs. I enjoy them, but personally, the more real, raw, down to earth, and deep they are, the better they are. Nobody wants to read a memoir full of a perfect life. At least I don’t. I can truly say that Chris Rush’s memoir is the absolute BEST memoir I have read to date! That being said, I have only read about a do
Diane S ☔
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Thoughts soon.
Shannon A
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thinking I would just read the first few pages while waiting for the bus, I knew I had gone down the rabbit hole when I finished nearly fifteen pages in less than an hour and nearly missed my stop for home.

A journey of wild times, unbelievable twists & turns, hitchhiking, drugs, near-death experiences and self-discovery that is hypnotic & full of emotion. Told at near lightning pace, every page will leave you in some form of suspense; daring you to read the next page, while leaving you i
Kasa Cotugno
Every now and then a memoir appears that makes anyone who has experienced parenthood wonder What the Hell? How did this person survive, and how could parents allow their child to disappear into the unknown? The events in Chris Rush's personal history take place almost 50 years ago, and given the bifurcated nature of the home he grew up in, one can only wonder at his resilience in becoming the respected, honored artist he has evolved into. Chris is the middle child of seven of a successful contra ...more
Karen Kay
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.

Wow, it's amazing the author is still alive to tell his incredible story. Well written, very interesting. Must read. Warning: adult si
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelli by: Goodreads Giveaways
When I first saw the Goodreads Giveaways listing for The Light Years, Chris Rush's memoir of growing up in let's-just-say-unusual circumstances, I was under the impression that this book was going to be akin to A Million Little Pieces, minus the pathological lying. You know the sort: horrible depravity, shady characters everywhere, life-threatening overdoses aplenty, and of course, jail stints full of institutional abuse and shower rape scenes.

It was nothing like that at all.

Although there were
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***An early edition of this book was given to me for review. I'd like to thank the author and publishing company for this opportunity. All opinions, however, are my own.***

Typically, I'd write my own back-cover-type synopsis here, but I think the one on this book's page does it well enough alone. The bulk of the synopsis is below:

Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the th
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
I loved every moment reading this extraordinary book about an extraordinary life, and I raced through it grateful that Mr Rush was still alive alive to tell his story. It is a profound, and profoundly sad, memoir but one full of love and the search for love. My favourite read of 2019 so far.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal. As a mom it’s very difficult to read at times. I had to remind myself periodically that he was clearly alive to write the memoir, walking away from disaster time and again. Horrible parents or a sign of the times or both...gah!
Cassie (book__gal)
I’ve really gotten on board the memoir train this past month and The Light Years sealed the deal for me - I’m officially a fan of memoirs now! I used to never read them. This particular memoir is written by artist Chris Rush, who came of age in the 1960s/1970s, leaving his Catholic, privileged upbringing in New Jersey to submerge himself in the counterculture of hippies, experimentation, LSD, and the American West. This is a person with some truly wild experiences. The heart of Rush’s story, how ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
Thank you to Goodreads First impressions and the publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux for an advanced reader's copy of this book and to Sue Jackson of Book by Book blog who motivated me to pick up this book. When I received this book, I could not figure out why I entered the drawing for this book, as I am not a fan of memoir and I particularly do not like addiction memoirs. But....while Chris Rush did an amazing amount of drugs and as a nurse, I knew some of what was coming, I kept turning the pa ...more
Wow. This is a helluva memoir. I've read lots of addiction memoirs and this is somehow more than that. He lived a truly harrowing life (and the fact he can still speak to his mother is...well let's just say he's a better person than I am). The writing is gorgeous and the reflections on the 70s, the changing drug culture, and religion are all amazing. A great listen on audiobook. I hope he's working on another book.
DNF @ pg. 90.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad book. Chris Rush tells the story of his drug days in the late 60's with a razor-sharp wit and keen insight. It's nothing personal, but after awhile Rush's tales of drugs, road trips, and more drugs became a bit tedious and too self indulgent for my taste. Certain passages are quite nicely written, but overall I just didn't find this book engrossing enough to continue it.
Jessica Bumgardner
**I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway**

I devoured this book. On the back cover of the book is a review from Nick Flynn that says, "Brace yourself: to enter The Light Years you must be willing to be changed." I was absolutely not prepared to begin this journey. To start off with, I am sad to say, I had never heard of Chris Rush. I didn't read too much about what would be in this memoir and I was not expecting an emotional journey. Not only was the story intriguing, the writing just sucked me
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
HOLY MOLY. Chris Rush must have several guardian angels (and guardian aliens) looking over him. A staggering & lucid recollection of one heck of an adolescence spent under the influence of everything under the sun. Vivid, introspective, trippy, fantastic.
Lauren Archer
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Strauss and Giroux for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book. This is the memoir of the artist Chris Rush that starts at age 11 and takes him through his young adult years. This covers the gamet of topic, sexuality, religion and drugs. As I read this book I ran through many emotions. Lots of laughter and many thoughtful moments throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. It might have been the book that got me out of my rut.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love, loved it.
This is the memoir of an artist's crazy childhood in the heyday of the hippy era. Each chapter was an almost unbelievable adventure. The guy had LSD before alcohol, lived alone on a mountain, hitchhiked and was assaulted, fell under the spell of a UFO guru, and on and on. The story was interesting and it had some moments that felt authentic, but most of it just felt like "then this crazy thing happened to me." There is a bit of redemption at the end but it was very short, almost like an after-no ...more
Jan 24, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The Light Years is an engaging memoir about the author's life. He spent his teen years in the 70's taking and dealing drugs. Some crazy things happened to him. He survived an overdose, he lived off the grid in Arizona in the mountains, eventually he rejoined society and went on to live a successful life. He got lucky because so many just like him did not make it. It's a fascinating read. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Csimplot Simplot
Excellent book!!!
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely incredible. It's hard to describe. Just read it. Definitely in my top five.
Furiously Reading
I had zero expectations going into The Light Years, I barely remembered reading the synopsis. Something about drugs and Tucson was all I could recall. So I decided to just start reading and let the book do all the work. To say I read this memoir at a feverish pace is an understatement. I read late at night and in the early hours of the morning. I even read at work whenever I had a down moment. I had to be with Chris and hear his story. His writing is crystalline and intense, but also simple, dev ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars for an incredible debut by Chris Rush – and 5 stars for having lived through the drug-addled life he spent a dozen or more years reliving in this amazing memoir. Just by happenstance, I started reading this as I was listening to T.C. Boyle’s newest “Outside Looking In”, a novel about the glories(?) of LSD in the early 60’s, when Timothy Leary was doing his experiments, so I spent a couple of weeks immersed in memories of my own LSD experiences and drug life in the 70’s. But wow, my exper ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing voyage into the past of a person who somehow survived a very dysfunctional family life, more psychedelic drugs than Tim Leary and a criminal past that defies imagination. That he was not caught, put in prison or died of HIV defies the odds. Perhaps his luck was helped by location, location and location. In Southern California this guy would have been toast. His sexual episodes reflected his poor judgement and lack of anything close to character.

I enjoyed the portion of the b
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a wild memoir. Rush, a well respected artist and designer, tell the story of his teenage years which essentially consisted of taking and dealing drugs. His odyssey across the US and his stay in the mountains in Tucson, living off the land , while stoned or tripping on LSD, makes for fascinating reading. And it appears that the rest of the kids in his family, and especially his sister Donna, were stoned or tripping during the seventies as well. I am the same age as Rush, and lived through th ...more
Maureen Stanton
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heart wrenching story of a gay teenager in 1970s whose parents were too homophobic and self-involved to accept him, and instead let him wander in the wilderness--literally and figurally--for years. I wish Rush had written more about how he turned his life around after nearly killing himself with drugs (not by suicide attempts, but slow steady annihilation of his body--which, of course, a different kind of suicide). In spite of fits and starts at the beginning of the book (a lot of short anecdota ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very fast read for me. It gave me some serious wanderlust. I felt sad for Chris through a lot of the book, but his seemingly endless adventures, and mostly optimistic view of his circumstances, never let the story become too depressing. I could probably say more but you should just read it.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-favorites
Holy guacamole I have never been so enthralled by a memoir
Elle Rudy
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, netgalley
I knew I liked Chris Rush from the first chapter. We're introduced to him as a child who appears to be more certain of who he is than most adults I've met. As Rush recounts his childhood into adolescence and then young adulthood, the environment around him, people he encounters, the era he lives in, all attempt to forge him into a different person. His resilience is just amazing to me. After living what feels like several lifetimes worth in a decade, I'm left completely in awe.

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Chris Rush is an award-winning artist and designer whose work is held in numerous museum collections. The Light Years is his first book.