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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: "A Sudden Light" by Garth Stein

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.
*(summary courtesy of Goodreads)
My Review:
This was a beautifully written story about familial bonds that can either be your source of strength, or hold you back. It's about forgiveness, love, loss, truth and promises kept.  It's about doing the right thing versus what is more convenient.  It's forgiving yourself for whatever blame you carry from your past, and seeking redemption through good deeds.
This is the first Garth Stein book I've read, so I really didn't know what to expect.  I am glad to say that I was very moved by the story.  The characters were quite peculiar and interesting.  You can see the impact each one has on the unfolding of the story.  It has some historical content and ghost story elements to it.  While it may not be tempting to some, it proved essential and added character to the overall story.  I found myself smiling one minute, then crying the next.  It alternates between past and present in a Princess Bride fashion.

400 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK

Recommend?    It's definitely worth a read

(ARC courtesy of Simon and Schuster UK and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review)


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