Book Escape in New West: Reviews & News

From suspenseful reads to literary tweeds…

Book Review – A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

What is it with the fascination with the Young Adult [YA] genre of fiction nowadays? Do we want a faster pace in books as box office results illustrate we do with movies? The Young Adult genre moves faster with more of an emphasis on the adventure than the characters. Publishers are currently looking for selections that crossover between YA and the Adult genre. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb is in the crossover category. It possesses a relatively quick pace, good characterization and a delightful journey.

This book may be a well-kept secret. I hesitated when choosing to read this book as it was a teen read, but the reviews were good. I was pleasantly surprised. The author’s premise is very creative: a love story that crosses the boundaries of life and death, between a teen boy and a female ghost, discovering themselves while discovering each other.

Laura Whitcomb’s characters grab hold of you, and you feel compassionate about their outcomes, uncertain as those may be. Will their love be ill-fated? How can a boy and a ghost maintain a relationship? Throughout the book, they become altered physically, emotionally and mentally. Quite a task for a writer to accomplish this.

The characters tread into the lives of troubled teens and young adults. Themes such as suicide, premarital sex, and drug abuse are entertained. In fact, most teen issues are addressed at one point or another in the book. Fundamentally, the book is about forgiveness and letting go of the past. It is less of a ghost story and more of a drama. There are many secrets which are slowly uncovered over its course. The grandiose secret is not revealed until the end, when we find out how the main character, Helen, died and why she became a ghost in the first place.

What I liked the most was Laura Whitcomb’s descriptions of how Helen, as a ghost, experienced her world. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking a light entertaining read that strums but does not tear out your heartstrings. This will likely be my guilty read of the year, even more than Hunger Games.

Laura Whitcomb did go on to write a second book, continuing the story of Helen and Billy, again with a small but satisfied following.

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Pauline Probyn

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