The Light We Lost has some very interesting concepts and themes. I chose this book because it is based on the most historical event of my life, September 11, 2001. I am fascinated with 9⁄11 because I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out about those planes on that day. I was in sixth grade, and I was in the school library because it was school picture day. The librarians had a television on a cart pulled into the doorway of the library and the book storage room. I can still recall standing in line to have my photo taken and watching the planes hit those buildings over and over as the news replayed those moments. I remember going to class after class for the rest of the day and discussing what this meant for our country and our own lives. Because of my age and the fact that I was all the way in Texas, I did not quite live this day like these two characters in New York City.
Lucy and Gabe were in college just miles away from the World Trade Center Towers. They meet on this day and share a moment that will last a lifetime. This book explores their bittersweet and complicated relationship that spans 13 years. The author helped me place myself in the story. I do not have anyone in my life like either Lucy or Gabe, but I still felt the love and heartbreak that Lucy describes. I felt like I was Lucy or at least there with her because the prose was so vivid.
There is an element of this book that makes it so different from anything I have ever read. The point of view in The Light We Lost is one I have never read before. Lucy narrates the story in first person. This is obviously nothing new, but she is narrating as if she is recounting her and Gabe’s entire history to Gabe himself. She refers to “you” throughout the entire book. “You” is Gabe, not the reader. If “you” had been the reader then it would qualify as second person. Usually first person is written in present tense, maybe with brief flashbacks. However, this story is completely past tense first person POV. It is almost like stream of consciousness that seems to move quicker the further into the story you get. Honestly, it took me at least 40 pages to accept that this was the story-telling technique that Santopolo chose to use. It was complicated at first, and because I had never read anything like it I had a hard time transitioning. At some point I began to accept it and quickly the POV did not feel so foreign.
After reading some reviews, I noticed that there are some readers who do not like the main characters. I did not mind them, however they were both deeply flawed. Without those flaws, this story would not exist because everyone would have lived happily ever after only 50 pages in. I am a much bigger fan of reading how these characters navigated their flaws through the next 300 pages.
I was able to fly through this book in just two days because the chapters were so short. In fact, there are 80 chapters in just 320 pages. I had trouble putting it down because of this. I did not want to disconnect from Lucy and Gabe; they were so real and unadulterated. Although September 11, 2001, was the catalyst for Lucy and Gabe’s relationship, most of the book takes place in the years following. The reader is privy to how being in NYC on the morning of September 11, 2001, shaped their lives in a monumental way. Other than those brief mentions, 9⁄11 is not discussed in much detail after that day in the book. Overall I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you can accept the unique point of view. If you would like to purchase this book, you can do so on Amazon. Comment below if you remember where you were on September 11, 2001.