Review: Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb

January 5, 2015 3 stars, Book Review 8 ★★★

Review: Under the Light by Laura WhitcombUnder the Light by Laura Whitcomb
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 14, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Helen needed a body to be with her beloved and Jenny needed to escape from hers before her spirit was broken. It was wicked, borrowing it, but love drives even the gentlest soul to desperate acts.

When Jenny returns to her body, she finds that someone has been living her life while she was away. She doesn’t remember being Billy’s lover or defying her family. But now she is faced with the consequences. And Helen, who has returned to warn Jenny—to help her—finds herself trapped, haunting the girl she wished to save.

In this captivating companion novel to A Certain Slant of Light, the love story between Jenny and Billy begins out-of-body—where they can fly and move the stars--and continues into the tumultuous realm of the living, where they are torn away from each other even as they slowly remember their spirits falling in love.

Under the Light is actually a companion novel to Laura Whitcomb’s book A Certain Slant of Light. It is totally not necessary for you to have read it in order to read this one. While yes this one literally does pick up within minutes after the other book ends – this one is instead focused on two young teens named Jenny and Billy.

Finding each other

Jenny has a really rough home life. Her parents are so religious and her father so strict about everything that one day after throwing away so many of Jenny’s precious personal belongings Jenny snaps and her spirit leaves her body and she floats about the world experiencing everything she can while leaving her body as what she believes to be an empty shell. But unbeknownst to her Helen (the ghost from A Certain Slant of Light) occupies her body for a very short time and uses her body for her own ends with another ghost, James who has occupied another empty body (Billy’s body).

Billy has it just as rough as Jenny does. While he doesn’t have fanatically religious parents he has absentee ones. His father is in jail for beating his mother into a vegetative state and his mother is in the hospital. He’s fallen in with the wrong crowd and to try to escape his life he turns to drugs and somehow ends up detaching his spirit from his body. While he’s away he’s occupied by the ghost James.

Now the period of “occupation” by the ghosts is what is covered in A Certain Slant of Light and while it does have an effect on Jenny and Billy when they return to their bodies, as I said you don’t need to have read that book to be able to follow along with this one. It was definitely enjoyable and more of a crossover adult read whereas this one is a young adult read. So if it sounds appealing I would recommend it.

While Jenny and Billy are aware from their bodies they happen to meet in spirit and become close but when they are thrust back into their bodies neither one of them can remember exactly the time they spent out of their bodies. But they do have evidence that the two of them have had a relationship that they both can’t remember. Slowly they start to piece this together while navigating their tumultuous lives and problems.

I have to admit emotions ran high for me when it came to Jenny’s side of the story. The book is told completely from her and Helen’s perspective as Helen has decided to stay on earth to try and protect Jenny from any harm she may have caused while she had occupied her body. Jenny has it really rough as her parents are now getting a divorce and her mother is not being a very good supportive parent (not that she ever was to begin with). I also have a very hard time whenever fanatical religion comes into play when I’m reading. It’s a subject that makes me uncomfortable to read and I know this directly effect my enjoyment level of the book. But I think this was supposed to be an emotional book and it definitely succeeded at wringing the emotions from me. There was a lot of self discovery and a bit of coming of age for both Jenny and Billy (though you really learn more about Jenny since we don’t get Billy’s perspective). They are both so young and have gone through so much and seeing how those circumstances shape them and yet they are still good people and the choices they make is a really fabulous thing to see.

While it was a sad read it also comes with a message of hope and I believe imparts a message to teens that they do still have power over their lives. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to any young teen.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Review: Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb”

  1. Lynn

    Wow – A Certain Slant of Life – it was ages ago that I read that – and really enjoyed it. I seem to remember it had a really creepy cover with a girl in a bath tub with her hair hanging out over the back? I enjoyed it – not sure though about a follow up – it never even occurred to that there would even be a No.2 so I was gobsmacked when I saw this!! I think it sounds like you probably have to be in the right frame of mind if it’s so emotionally wringing!??
    Lynn 😀
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  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    I remember reading A Certain Slant of Light years ago and enjoying it, but I’m just not as big on super emotional YA books as I used to be. Maybe I’ll get to this one someday – it sounds like Jenny is a very likeable protagonist and I’m intrigued about what Helen gets up to when she’s in J’s body.
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Well everything that happened in A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT is what Helen was up to in J’s body – this time she isn’t in J’s body she’s just kinda floating around sometimes trying to communicate with Jenny. Really Helen doesn’t play any kind of significant role at all. I think she’s there to loosely tie the books together. You really don’t have to have even read the first book for this one since its a companion novel.

      It’s really not THAT emotional (considering I don’t really like to read overly sad emotional books lol)
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