Note to publishers: It is not necessary for you to compare some books to other books. I’m a pretty smart girl, and am capable of interest in stories or ideas without you telling me it’s the next whatever. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo is being marketed as Me Before You meets One Day and as a Love Story for a new generation. Honestly if I had read that before I pushed “Buy” in Amazon I would have clicked Back Back Back and kept looking but I read a review that seemed interesting and was smart enough to not compare the book to anything so I bought it.
As with every book that touts itself as ‘heartbreaking’ or ‘devastating’ I have to go through a continual internal process that sounds like “Am I trying not to be emotionally manipulated or am I dead inside” when I fail to throw my weeping body on a funeral pyre at an ending that can be predicted by about page 3. You will not be surprised by this ending (unless you never read Me Before You or One Day or Love Story. Or have lived in a Plato-type cave for many years.) but you may like the book anyway. I liked some of it, but about 2/3 in I was just waiting for it to be over.
The Light We Lost is about Lucy and Gabe and their Great Love Story. They meet in college at Columbia on 9/11 (okay) and get together and break up and then get together and break up again over the next few years. Even though this is a Great Love Story, Gabe has other shit to do – he is a photojournalist and needs to move to Iraq to pursue his Great Career Story. He leaves Lucy in New York with her own pretty kick ass career (producing educational children’s television) and she Never Gets Over Him. Sorry for all the sarcastic CAPITAL LETTERS but you must understand the IMPORTANCE OF THEIR LOVE (he can quote Shakespeare!). Yeah, I’m thinking ‘dead inside’ was the answer to my internal question too. This might not be all Jill Santopolo’s fault.
Anyway, Lucy gets on with her life by meeting and eventually marrying Darren. Darren is FLAWED. I mean, he’s not LeaveYouAndGoToIraq flawed. But he’s SometimesSelfishLikeANormalPerson flawed. We are meant to understand this very clearly so that later on we don’t think Lucy is a huge bitch for everything else she does. Lucy is not the most sympathetic character. She is unhappy in her marriage but does nothing to fix it or try to improve it. She justifies her crap behavior in weird ways and it got a bit annoying. Overall my feelings about their love story were… meh.
It’s hard to let go of love, obviously. I mean, hard for me. It’s literally never been hard for anyone who has loved me. But you get it. The Light We Lost is very eager to tell you that betrayals committed at the expense of Capital Ell Love are not betrayals at all, which is obviously a huge matter of opinion. I am definitely not in that mind space (dead inside) so it didn’t quite work for me. Maybe you’re younger than me, or happier than me, or more hopeful and romantic than me. Maybe this is the book for you, but it wasn’t the book for me.
The Light We Lost – Grade C