Reading level: Young Adult
Publisher: Graphia - September 21, 2005
It's not often that I get to sit down and read a book cover to cover in one sitting. Not for the lack of great reading material, but due more to a lack of time. Isn't it amazing the power of a great book? Great books can make magicians out of us. For a great book, we can create time, conjure up how ever many hours needed to devote to the book. It's a wonderful feeling, to throw caution, and your day to the wind and just simple fall into a book. With a truly great one, you might just leave your own world, and live for a time in a new one.
With A Certain Slant of Light, I got book lost. I sat down to read it, and a few hours later I woke up in my house, not really sure of how I got there because the last thing I knew, I was with Helen and James.
Helen is Light. Light is what comes after, after we die, when to the world, we are gone but we can't leave. The Quick, the living are unaware of us then. They can't see us, they can't hear us but some part of them can feel we are there. Helen can't remember how she died, who she is, or anything about her life when she was one of the Quick save for her age, her name and that she was female. For over a hundred years Helen has attached herself to a living person, a host, and stayed with them throughout their lives until they passed. The time between hosts means fear, and pain and for Helen, the terrifying sensation of drowning.
Mr. Brown, unbeknownst to him, is Helen's host. He is a teacher, and an aspiring novelist who every so often feels a whisper of inspiration from a hidden muse. Unable to stray far from her host, Helen goes with him to school everyday and waits in the classroom, unseen by his students as he teaches.
"Although I could not feel paper between my fingers, smell ink, or taste the tip of a pencil, I could see and hear the world with all the clarity of the Living. They, on the other hand, did not see me as a shadow or a floating vapor. To the Quick, I was empty air."
But one day, someone sees her.
A boy in the back of the room, she's seen him before but he's never noticed her. Now he's looking right at her. For 130 years, she has been invisible, even to her host. Her life was watching his life, repetitive, quiet and still and now a human was watching her.
"How is it you see me?" But I wanted to cry Thank God you do.
"I'm like you." he said.
This book reads like a song- it could easily be set to music. Beautiful, lovely, romantic and haunting. I could keep gushing. I'm amazed by Whitcomb's writing. I was instantly captivated and floated effortlessly through the story all the way to the end. She put me through so many emotions- grief, loss, loneliness, love, lust, loathing. There is a family in the story, you'll see, and every time the story turned to them it made me angry.
I'm so sad that it's over. Read it and tell me what you think- that way it will be like I'm going back for a visit.
Just a note: You'll find this book in the Young Adult section but keep in mind that the characters in the story are actually in their late twenties. That being said, the story has some ahem- mature content. I have no idea why it is marketed as YA. It belongs in the fiction section.