Cover Image: In the Wild Light

In the Wild Light

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Member Reviews

DNF @ 50%

This book is beautifully written and will appeal to many. In my opinion, however, there are far too many parallels to John Green's Looking for Alaska in this story. I can't continue reading this one because it is something I can't stop thinking about as I read. Maybe if I hadn't read Looking for Alaska, or any John Green book for that matter, I wouldn't be making so many comparisons as I read.
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Thank you to Netgalley, Penguin Random House Canada, and Jeff Zentner for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My first Jeff Zentner Book, and WOW! I was NOT disappointed! I’ve been hearing such great things for years and am kicking myself for waiting so long to try one!

This story contained some of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever witnessed in print. The bond between Cash and his grandfather was so strong, so deep, and so so true. The love between these two characters is a love that some people spend a lifetime trying to find. I also loved the relationship between Cash and Delaney (forever Red in my mind lol.) Their friendship has overcome so much, and similar to Cash and his grandpa, their bond is so strong.

This is the kind of story I could read again and again and fall in love deeper with each read. If the synopsis of this book sounds like it is up your alley I encourage you to take the plunge and read it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
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Excellent and I wanted to start again once I was finished. Yes, there were tears shed and they were oh so worth it! I want to go read some more poetry and maybe even write some too after this...

This is a beautifully written and emotional book about Cash and Delaney, but also with a strong cast of supporting characters that the reader really learns to love as well. Wonderful character development that draws you into their worlds from the start and makes you start caring for them immediately. Both of them have faced tough childhoods and it seems to be some of what has created the bond that they share. Living in a small town that is struggling doesn't seem to provide much of a future...

Everything changes suddenly when Delaney manages to get a full scholarship to a prep school in Connecticut and manages to get one for Cash as well. Cash really struggles leaving his family and even his perception of his life in some ways as they leave to do to school.

There won't be spoilers here, but suffice to say there are lots of ups and downs and emotions are all over the place. Delaney gets absorbed in her science and Cash finds a new passion he didn't know he had. They meet new friends and life is busy at school, but life back home has a way of drawing them back as well. What will happen to their friendship through all of these ups and downs?

READ IT as soon as you can get your hands on it! And enjoy! But bring tissues! Excellent read!
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Thank you to Jeff Zentner, Netgalley and Anderson Press LTD for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book for an honest review!

I really loved this book! The prose in this book really incorporates every nostalgic thing about growing up. The idea is really simplistic but it's plotted out in a way that is intricate and complex. In the Wild Light is a really wonderfully written and character driven book, there's also a really poetic way that the prose is written where the language is just simply beautiful.
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In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner follows Cash. Cash lost his mother to opioid addiction. He has grown up with his grandparents, but now his grandfather is dying of emphysema. Cash and his family live in a small town in Tennessee. He has a friend named Delaney, and he always looks out for her. When Delaney secures the both of them full ride scholarships to an elite school in Connecticut, Cash is torn between being there for Delaney at the school, and being there for his grandparents at home.

This book is beautifully vivid. It is poetic and lovely. I love how it focuses on family, biological and found.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released August 10, 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

Jeff Zentner is a master storyteller. A magical word weaver whose characters find their way into your heart. His writing is so fine and so lyrical I found myself reading and rereading passages just for the pure pleasure of experiencing them again. I wept in the first 10% of this book. Tears welled up more than once throughout the rest of it. Emotional engagement like this is the gift of brilliant writing. 

Cash Pruitt is the kind of wounded hero it’s easy to love. His best friend is the brilliant Delaney Doyle. They went to school together but became friends after meeting at a Nar‑Anon meeting. Both their mothers were addicts. Both are damaged from this. The trauma is real. The guilt that's carried for being unable to save people is real. In Zentner's book the protagonists go to therapy. We need more examples of how to survive this stuff. I'm so glad this book is here. 

At their new school, the duo become a quartet. Cash meets Alex, a Korean American student, on the rowing team. He is on a scholarship as well. Viviani Xavier is Delaney's wealthy Brazilian room mate. The four friends become inseparable. 

Cash is lucky to have a poetry teacher, Dr Adkins, who 'gets' him. She encourages him to write his own poetry. Cash's moving poems reach into you and make an already brilliant book even better. His poem, Laundry Boys, celebrates his friendship with Alex. 

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This is a novel about loss and grief: a sorrow so sharp edged and heavy it threatens to drag a wounded heart deep down under until it forgets to believe in the sun.

This is a novel about love. It’s about love for the environment and animals around us. It's about love for family and friends. It's about old loves, new loves, and discovering a true love that was there all along.

Ultimately this is a book about becoming the best person you can be. Sometimes you need to leave home to figure this out.  

Preorder your copy now.
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This book was further evidence of Jeff Zentner's amazingness. His ear for dialogue is great and there are many lines that pop right off the page and make me stop reading and start thinking. He has the knack to create characters that you not just root for in the novel, but you also want them to have an amazing life.

Like Zentner's other works, the small town setting really works for me, as does the way his characters can simultaneously love their home, but also need to leave. Cash and Delaney both have families that have been crippled by opioid addiction. Cash sees a future in his town with some joy but is also very aware of the struggles that are coming. Delaney has a more ambitious vision for her future and needs her best friend to also aim higher. She plans to have the two of them attend an exclusive private prep school far away from the pitfalls of their small town, but also away from Cash's grandparents.

In the Wild Light will give you all the feelings and has all the best attributes of books like Andrew Smith's Winger series, and some books by John Green. I really enjoyed this book.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Cash Pruitt is a high school student living with his grandparents in a small town in Tennessee. He and his best friend, Delaney have one heartbreaking thing in common, both of their mothers are/were drug addicts – however Cash’s mother died from an overdose a few years ago. Through the years they have faced life’s challenges side by side and now that Delaney has been offered a scholarship at a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut, she wants Cash by her side there as well. Cash’s grandfather, or Papaw as he calls him, is dying of emphysema and Cash has a hard time agreeing to go to Connecticut and being away from his family while they’re in such a precarious position – but his grandparents and Delaney urge him to seize the opportunity, so he does.

I always get the worst book hangovers from Jeff Zentner’s books. He creates a world, makes you love his characters, completely draws you in, and once you’re done it’s hard to let go. For this reason, I appreciate his thoroughness in his endings - there are no dramatic cliffhangers or uncertain fates. Zentner sets your mind at ease for these characters you now care so deeply for, his endings assure you they are on a path to happiness - it warms your heart and makes leaving them behind almost okay.

Things I loved about this book:

Cash. I think he’s my new favourite Zentner MC. One thing you can count on when you’re reading a book by this author is some solid inner monologue. Cash’s observations of his surroundings, his thoughts on his friends and family and life in general are so poetic yet relatable. He was hesitant to take a poetry class, but it’s apparent to the reader very early on that Cash is already a poet. Besides that, he is just a good person, a person “of bravery and substance, who would fight for people who needed a champion”. I wish more male YA MCs were like him - heck, I wish more non-fictional males were like him.

Delaney. Hermione Granger 2.0. She is smart and fierce and loyal and I love her so much. Although her anxiety sometimes gets the best of her, she never lets it stop her from helping the people she loves. She complements Cash perfectly and it’s easy to see why they’re such good friends.

Cash’s grandparents. Come on. Does it get any better than an old southern papaw leaving his church because they start preaching against homosexuality? The political climate in the States right now is bananas, so it was nice to be reminded that just because someone is from a certain place or lives a certain way, that doesn’t necessarily mean they share the same stereotypical values as their neighbours (if it wasn’t obvious I’m not American, hello and yes that is a “U” in “neighbours”). I also loved the unabashed love between Cash and his grandparents – kudos to him for being a teenage boy who can say “I love you” without rolling his eyes. Oh, and I was so excited to see Nana Betsy again!

The setting. Zentner does Connecticut. We all know he can sell the crap out of small town Tennessee, but here he tackled Connecticut in the fall and winter and while you might expect Cash to talk crap about a place so far from his beloved Pigeon River, his appreciation for his surroundings is evident. Sometimes a description of setting can get in the way of the flow, but in this case it only helped immerse me further in the story. The river, the campus, even New York City, were all described so vividly yet concisely; although this was a departure from his usual setting, Zentner still knocked it out of the park.

The banter. One of the highlights of Goodbye Days was Zentner’s ability to perfectly capture the interactions between teen boys. In the Wild Light was no exception. The banter between all of the friends; Delaney, Vi, and Alex especially, had me feeling like I was in on all of their inside jokes and really made the characters come alive.

The romance. If you’re looking for romance, you won’t find much of it in this book, but I had to mention it because it took me by surprise. I won’t spoil anything, but the trope Zentner decided to go with here isn’t always done convincingly and I was super skeptical, but by the end of this book I was rooting for them so hard!

Things I didn’t like:

Tripp. Ugh, what a dick.

I love Jeff Zentner and I go into each of his books cautiously because I’m afraid that it won’t live up to my (now extremely high) expectations, but In the Wild Light did not disappoint. Just because it's YA, don’t expect something light and fluffy, some books are meant to be read slowly so as not to miss a single word and this is one of those books. I love getting so immersed in a story that I forget myself and Zentner has been able to do it every. damn. time. So go in with high expectations, you won’t be disappointed.
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In the WIld Light tells the story of teenagers Cash and Delaney growing up faster than they should have to and doing it with love and friendship.  A touching story about how far some people will go to protect their loved ones and build their own families from the people around them.  Jeff Zentner does an amazing job pulling at all of the heart strings and laying everything out on the table.
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Since this book doesn't come out until August (can you say, "Happy birthday to Lucien"?!), I won't go into too many details about the contents of this book, but I will say it will break you just as much as Jeff's other books have (or will if you're yet to read them). As I usually do with books that make me cry, please allow for a vulnerable moment here. 2020 was rough with pandemic life, and 2021 is proving to still be tough on many of us. One thing that <em>In The Wild Light </em>really struck a chord with me on was Cash's feelings of "leaving his grandpa behind". Pep has cancer and while Cash is given the chance of a lifetime to really <em>become </em>someone, that means leaving the only father he's ever known mostly on his own. 

In a funny way, I think this is the perfect book for these times, even with the tinges of loss. People are losing their loved ones right now, but as long as we express our love towards those people we're missing, it's better than nothing. Right? This is a book about doing what's best for yourself, pushing past the impostor syndrome and the fear of failure and allowing the room for growth to breathe.
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This book was so lovely. It’s a quiet story, about a boy who leaves home to figure out, like Dorothy, where he belonged all along. It’s about tragedy and disenfranchisement. It’s about the healing power of poetry. It’s about first love. Its about friendship. It’s about mentors and teachers. It’s about a family’s love. 

I’m sorry you have to wait to read it. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Teen for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Cash and Delaney have have lost so much and have traveled to the depths of despair but their innate decency is what saves them. It's rare to read a novel that's so uplifting and yet not in the least way saccharine. I love how Zentner shows that the power of stepping outside oneself can lift you out of despair. This novel brought me to tears more than once and it was the perfect antidote to a rotten 2020 and the bad beginning of 2021.
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Beautiful story about family and friendship. All the feels-soo good!! Jeff Zentner is an amazing writer and writes in such a poetic and relatable way. A must read for 2021
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In The Wild Light by @JeffZentner is a beautiful ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read. Cash and Delaney are friends who have bonded over their absent and addicted mothers. When Delaney gets a scholarship to an elite school, she also gets one for Cash. This book is about grief, bravery, friendship and change. #netgalley  #netgalleyreads #bowkerbooks
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read a digital advance readers copy of this book for review. 

If you are a fan of Jeff Zentner's previous work, you will not be disappointed in this book. And don't forget to look for all of the little easter eggs from his other books.
If you are new to Jeff Zentner's writing, get prepared for a wild ride!

This book, much like Jeff Zentner's previous books, knows how to pull all of the emotional heart strings. You will laugh, you will cry and you'll even get mad. I didn't make it past page 66 before the tears had already started to well in my eyes.

There is no other way to describe the writing other than beautiful. The descriptions make you feel like you are in the story with Cash. You go where he goes, you feel what he feels. 

This book is not to be missed!
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One of my most anticipated books of 2021 and I was lucky enough to get an ARC from NetGalley!!

The thing I love about Jeff’s books is that you connect with his characters so quickly that by a few chapters in you feel like you know them and want to be friends with them. 
I loved the friendship, humour, and throwback to previous books. Jeff is so descriptive and really has a passion for storytelling and describing what the characters are feeling and the world around them. Following Jeff on social media I know he is very outdoorsy and it shows in the book, how he takes inspiration from nature and brings it into the story. The characters are amazing, with the adults being mentors and friends. 
We go on an adventure with the characters and watch them  handle difficult situations and how friendship and support from love ones can guide you and teach you. 

Can’t wait for everyone to read this when it is released.
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Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of In The Wild Light in exchange for an honest review.

This is my second Jeff Zentner book (the first actually being Goodbye Days. I'm a disgrace who hasn't read Serpent King yet) and I've decided that he is the master of sneaking up on you with emotional impact. In The Wild Life is unique in such a familiar, cozy way that makes it all the worse when it starts to tug on your heartstrings. It's funny and light and fun but also occasionally heart shatteringly poignant and somehow manages to merge the two completely organically.

I do wish some more time was allotted for certain aspects of the pacing (our two main characters have a lot of fights with resolutions that felt rushed) but other than that, I really enjoyed this.
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