I first read about Laura Whitcomb’s novel A Certain Slant of Light, not to be confused with A Certain Slant of Light by Cynthia Thayer, in a book where the writer did indeed get them mixed up, but ended up reading both. I thought I read about the mix-up in Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time, or Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree, but Amazon’s nify Citations feature doesn’t list either one. If anyone can solve the mystery for me, please do.
So anyway, it’s been a few years since I’d added the book to my wishlist, but I had never come across it in bookstores and wasn’t so keen to read it to make one of my rare online book purchases. Serendipitously, one day I was browsing through a large special display of bargain books at a Border’s and was shocked and pleased to find a copy of the book in amongst the others. What made it even stranger was that it was the only copy of the book I could find there, while it seemed like all the others had multiple copies. It was meant to be! I gleefully took my find to the cash register, took it home, and promptly forgot about it. (As happens with too many of the books brought into my home.)
While perusing my bookshelves one evening late last month for a last-minute read for Carl’s RIP Challenge, I came across A Certain Slant of Light once again. I figured since it involved ghosts it fit the challenge, and was of a suitable length and subject matter that I could read it within a couple days in time before October 31st and the end of the challenge. Well, I was certainly correct in that assumption. I took the book to bed with me and within a few hours (and a little burning of the midnight oil) I had devoured the entire thing. I simply could not put it down and wait to finish the story.
And the story, for those of you who’d actually like to know, is about two ghosts, or beings of Light, as the one, Helen, calls herself. She has been dead for more than 100 years, haunting one person, unbeknowst to them, for a period of time before they die or she otherwise moves on, to a new “host.” One day, while observing the students in her current host’s high school classroom, she notices one observing her right back. The realization that for the first time in her post-living existence, someone is seeing her both frightens and intrigues Helen, and it isn’t long before she confronts him, a teenaged boy named Billy. But Billy’s body is actually being inhabited by another ghost, James, who found Billy’s body empty of its soul but able to receive his spirit. James and Helen are drawn to one another like moths to a flame, and it isn’t long before their passion ignites, setting into motion a series of events that neither one could have predicted.
For fans of Edward and Bella’s romance in Twilight, this ghostly couple’s ardent love for one another will make theirs seem lukewarm by comparison. And just as Twilight isn’t really about vampires in the traditional sense, A Certain Slant of Light isn’t really about things that go bump in the night. Instead, it is about the powers of guilt, forgiveness and love. It’s a wonderful book, and the only other thing I wish it had in common with Twilight is that book’s length. Helen’s and James’ pasts and presents are much too fascinating for the reader to be satisfied with what we’re given. But alas, that’s all we have. So just savor every moment.
And with that, a dual miracle has occurred. With four books read (The Forgotten Garden, The Observations, The Likeness and A Certain Slant of Light), I have actually completed a challenge, the first time in a very long time that I’ve been able to make that claim. And secondly, I am FINALLY caught up on my blog posts! Now let’s see if I can keep it that way.