Wendy Darling's Reviews > A Certain Slant of Light

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: pn-ghosts, young-adult, gorgeous-prose, favorite-ya, read-2011, adult, mature-ya, questionable-ethics
Recommended 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 that does not spare the emotions of love and grief and the heavy weight of responsibility. I particularly enjoyed Helen's delight at the burst of sensations she experiences when as she discovers the touch and taste of certain things for the first time, as well as the sad, aching pull of her attachment to her human hosts.

The suddenness of the physical relationship between Helen and James surprised me, though, as until that point everything had unfolded very slowly and naturally. Still, the connection between these two lost souls is undeniable, as they are so well matched as lovers of literature, people of integrity, and most profoundly, as the only known beings in that plane of existence. I'm astounded by the places this book was bold enough to explore, and I am deeply satisfied with how the story was resolved. It's truly remarkable when an author can make a ghost feel so eloquently and painfully human.
144 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Certain Slant of Light.
Sign In »

Quotes Wendy Darling Liked

Laura Whitcomb
“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.”
Laura Whitcomb, A Certain Slant of Light

Laura Whitcomb
“He kissed me for a long moment, holding my shoulders, perhaps to keep me from pressing my whole body against his. Then he tried to lift my bag.

"My God," he said. "What happened?"

"I found out one may check out twenty books at a time from the school library.”
Laura Whitcomb, A Certain Slant of Light

Reading Progress

April 22, 2011 – Started Reading
April 22, 2011 – Shelved
April 22, 2011 –
page 94
April 22, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 56 (56 new)

message 1: by Lora (new) - added it

Lora A lot of people like this. I'll have to try it sometime.

Great review :)

Wendy Darling Thanks Lora! I was pretty blown away by the book. I think most people who enjoy wordy writing (and who enjoy books like Shiver) will like it.

message 3: by Lora (new) - added it

Lora Shiver just happens to be my favorite young adult novel (no kidding). I'll definitely try this one. :)

Wendy Darling There are certain...repercussions from Helen and James' actions which made me a little uncomfortable. But after thinking about it for several days, I'm still okay with the choices the author made. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Kurukka You review is so smart it almost makes me ashamed of my so poor rating, lol. Maybe I should try to read it again...

Wendy Darling Hah, this does seem to be a very polarizing book. I think you have to be in the right mood for it, too.

Kurukka Or maybe I was too young when I read it. I'll pick it up again to see.

Small Review I loved this book! It's so different and bold, but sensitive, too. I was shocked by some of the things that happened, but like you, I'm ok with it. 100% agree with your last line. Helen's humanity stuck with me.

message 9: by Wendy Darling (last edited Jul 08, 2011 08:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wendy Darling I loved this too, SR! I can see how some people might not like the style, but I thought both the writing and the story were incredibly beautiful. I'm really looking forward to the follow-up book.

Small Review There's a follow-up book?!? Score! I loved the scene where they're in the classroom and James pulled the desk she was sitting on. It was just so sweet and thrilling and romantic. It was such a little scene, but it's stayed with me.

Wendy Darling Yes, the companion novel will be about Jenny and Billy, which makes a lot of sense. It's been awhile since she finished her first draft, though. I seem to recall hearing rumors that it might be out next year, but I can't find any confirmations right at the moment.


I like that scene, too. I also love the one where she guides his hand writing...and all of her wistful feelings towards Mr. Brown. Such an amazing book.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I'm really looking forward to this now. We're just waiting for Jo's copy to arrive! :)

Wendy Darling I'm so glad you two are reading it...and together, too! Being that you're both such literary people, I think you'll both really enjoy it. :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Start thinking about Stoney Marshall, too, if you're still up for it. :)

Wendy Darling Oh, you just say the word! I'm reading Aftertime right now, but I should be done with it soon. (view spoiler)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Ha! I knew it! I just did! Aftertime just doesn't have that special ingredient we both need. You finish Aftertime, I'll read Raw Blue with Catie ( want to join in? It's really short.) and then it's Stoney time!

Jessica-Robyn This was probably one of the first books I read that took romance in YA to such a beautiful level. I'm so incredibly excited to hear that there might be a companion! It would be really wonderful to see how Jenny and Billy managed afterwards, hopefully it gets out there soon and live up to the first one. :D This makes me want to go back and read the book again!

Wendy Darling Have you read other YA books that have similarly beautiful romances, Jessica-Robyn? If so, please share the titles! I loved this one, would love to find more like it. It's so intelligent and thoughtful, unlike any other book I've ever read. And I think writing Jenny and Billy's story would help some of the uneasiness I felt about the end.

Maja--that sounds like a good plan. :) I might join you in the Raw Blue readalong, I've been wanting to read that for awhile and now that I've read the author's other book Saltwater Vampires I'm especially eager. The writing was really excellent.

There's something about Aftertime that just isn't quite right for me. The writing feels a little off somehow, almost juvenile, so it throws me every time I am reminded that Cass is a grown woman with a child and this isn't a YA novel. I'm only a few chapters in, but I have to confess that I also HATE the filthiness too, and not only because I was thinking of you. (view spoiler)

message 19: by Jade (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jade Great review! I was surprised by how much I loved this book. Mostly bc I did not agree with a lot of the actions/decisions that were made. What I like the most about the book is that it has be at least a month or two since I first read it and I sometimes find myself still thinking about it. There are so many levels and reasons to love it or hate it.

Wendy Darling Thanks Jade! It's one I thought about a lot after I finished it, too. I was also uneasy with some of the decisions that were made and some of the things that happened at the end, but after sitting on it for a few days (view spoiler), I was still okay with it.

I am glad, though, that we may get a chance to see what happens next. Even if that doesn't materialize, however, this book really does stand on its own. I'd just like to see more books by this author, though!

message 21: by Limonessa (new) - added it

Limonessa I don't know why I didn't enjoy this book. It was making me so anxious while reading I had to drop it. And when I think about it I still feel like nails-on-a-chalkboard kind of feeling.

Small Review Wendy Darling wrote: "Yes, the companion novel will be about Jenny and Billy, which makes a lot of sense. It's been awhile since she finished her first draft, though. I seem to recall hearing rumors that it might be out..."

Oh yes, I loved those parts too! I added the sequel to my TBR. Thanks for letting me know about it! It will be interesting to see how things work out for Jenny and Billy.

message 23: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura "Wordy, witty and wonderful" all sound good to me! Great review Wendy! Another one I can't wait to read! :)

Morgan F I absolutely loved this one. One of my favorites.

Some people don't like it though, because they think the actions of the characters are immoral.

message 25: by Wendy Darling (last edited Jul 09, 2011 06:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wendy Darling Morgan, I can see how people might have a problem with some of the repercussions. If the story weren't told in such a sympathetic way, I might've had a problem with what happened too, since I normally hate this sort of thing in other books. Since Helen and James were both in an extremely unusual situation and hadn't had to consider that kind of thing for literally hundreds of years, though, I sort of understood how it could happen. I don't believe it was done maliciously and I think they were just trying to survive as best they knew how, so I wasn't upset with them.

Thanks Laura! I appreciate the kind words. And I'm happy to bring good news, Small Review. :)

Lisa, I was so thoroughly immersed in this book and I got really nervous for the characters towards the end, too. I think the author did an amazing job with setting certain moods, so I don't blame you for being upset by it. Sometimes the book just doesn't appeal to everyone, though. The language is kind of dense.

Monica Great review, Wendy. I loved this one and agree with your opinion. I wasn't really okay with some of the things happening, likely the same things that made you uncomfortable, but somehow at the end of the book I was alright and actually happy with the way it turned out. I'm anxiously awaiting the rest of the story for Billy and Jenny.

Wendy Darling Thanks so much, Monica. I loved this too, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the author does with the story. It does worry me a bit that it's been so long (six years!) since this was published, but...maybe that will be a good thing. At least she's not just churning it out to meet a deadline.

Greta is Erikasbuddy Awesome review!!

Wendy Darling Thanks Greta! I hope you get a chance to read it. It's so different from all the other YA out there.

Greta is Erikasbuddy Oh yes yes yes!! My library actually has it!! I am shocked!! My library rarely has anything!!

I'll pick it up when my Elizabeth Scott books come in (I requested 4 of those from other libraries) LOLZ! THen watch it be checked out ;) But I will surely get it ;)

Wendy Darling Awesome! I can't wait for your review. I'm always a little nervous about recommending this one, people seem to either love it or hate it. Fingers crossed for love on your part!

Greta is Erikasbuddy LOLZ! Well, be prepared on how picky I am ;) So please please please don't feel offended. It seems like everyone who has rec'd me a book has heard me squee and BLAH equally ;)

message 33: by Wendy Darling (last edited Jul 12, 2011 12:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wendy Darling Hah, I won't take offense if you hate it. But I will take FULL CREDIT if you love it.

Greta is Erikasbuddy sha-weet!! That's the way to do it ;)

Milly Another awesome review! I keep forgetting to grab this book at the library! I've heard how wonderful it is countless times! So glad you liked it! 5 stars says it all!

J. D. Montague You put into words what I love so about this book. Not to mention all the undertones of human nature and spirituality. This, to me, would be an excellent book group discussion. I truly would have loved to discuss this back in my high school English class (though I admit I probably would have found it a bit tedious in the beginning).

Wendy Darling Thanks J.D. This book is amazing! I have a few friends here on GoodReads who are reading it now, and I can't wait to hear what they think. I didn't get to discuss it with anyone myself as I was reading it, either, and it's definitely a good book club type of book with all the different themes it addresses. Not to mention the morality of certain things, of course.

message 38: by J. D. (last edited Jul 16, 2011 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

J. D. Montague Oh yes, the morality aspect...(view spoiler) Yes, lots to discuss. I didn't have anyone to discuss it with when I read it either (nearly a year and a half ago), so it's great to hear what others are saying about it (and that people are *still* reading it).

Wendy Darling Oh J.D--could you please go back and put spoiler tags in your post? If I don't hear back from you fairly quickly I'm going to go ahead and just delete it.

J. D. Montague Sorry about that. I thought I'd kept it vague enough to prevent spoilers, but on second reading, I realized that a bit of it may be spoiler-y.

Wendy Darling No worries--thank you!

Jessika Beaty  This book is so beautiful! I loved this so much!

Wendy Darling I'm so glad, J.A. It's one of my favorites. :)

Karen *sigh* I read this one a couple years ago and it's one of my favs too. I remember reading the author's blog when she was working on UNDER THE LIGHT. I'll have to look and see if it's out yet, or scheduled to be out soon. Might even have to read ACSOL again. Thanks for reminding me.

Courtney I really loved the beginning of this book, and, like you mentioned, the physical relationship really surprised me. I think in some ways it worked, but it was just too much like some other YA couples to settle in the right way with me. It was harder for me to engage with the book after this, but I think the ending really redeemed itself in a lot of ways. Thanks for the review c:

Morgan Summers your review helped me pick this book and I am so glad I did I adored this book!

message 47: by PJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

PJ I agree about it not reading as YA, more like horror. I'm only halfway through and my stomach is in knots.

Lily at Bookluvrs Haven Hoping to get a copy of this one soon, and happy that when I searched it on Goodreads to add it to my list, I see your 5 star review! That's pretty high praise on its own. So now I am really excited to dive into this one!!

message 49: by Els (new) - rated it 4 stars

Els Woah, five stars, must be good! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy

Bonnie Alright, Wendy. I'm reading this as promised. :P

« previous 1
back to top