A 12-year-old altar boy lives with his family in a small, poverty stricken town in Vermont. His father works at a manufacturing plant, his mother is a homemaker, and his fifteen-year-old brother is about to enter high school. His family has gained enough financial stability to move out of the nearby trailer park, and as conflict rages abroad, his father’s job at a weapons manufacturing plant appears safe. But then his mother is diagnosed with cancer, and everything changes.
As his family clings to the traditions of their hard-lined Catholicism, the narrator begins to see how ideology and human nature are often at odds. He meets Taylor, a perceptive, beguiling girl from the trailer park, a girl who has been forced to grow up too fast. Taylor represents everything his life as an altar boy isn’t, and their fledgling connection develops as his mother’s health deteriorates.
Set over the course of one propulsive summer, Soon the Light Will be Perfect chronicles the journey of a young man on the cusp of adulthood, a town battered by poverty, and a family at a breaking point. In spare, fiercely honest prose, Dave Patterson captures what it feels like to be gloriously, violently alive at a moment of political, social, and familial instability.
I’m almost not sure what to say about this book.
Having just finished it mere moments ago, I wanted to try to capture all my thoughts while they’re still fresh. I don’t quite know how to feel about this story.
None of the characters are particularly likeable. Most of the things they do, or say are questionable, offensive, unsettling. Some of their actions and choices made me cringe and at least a few times I was left with my jaw literally hanging open in shock. But you can’t help but still hope that at least by the end things will be ok for them.
I do quite enjoy writing styles like this that often makes sure to focus on and point out otherwise mundane details. When the narrator mentions things that might not matter like the smell of someone’s Chapstick or the colour of an ashtray or the fact that a glass has a chip in it, it immediately infuses the story with a sense of something almost like nostalgia, that is at times unsettling and somewhat uncomfortable but also very realistic.
I’m a bit…“irritated” might not be the right word but maybe perplexed, by books like this sometimes where the synopsis leads you to believe that certain things, elements or people will have a much bigger part in the story. And then you read it and they just…don’t. I can’t quite explain much more than that without giving anything away, but there is something in this story that only appears a very small number of times and though it has a big impact on the story and the narrator overall, it doesn’t quite match up with how the synopsis makes it sound. It just wasn’t what I expected I guess you could say.
But oh, does this story ever tug on your heartstrings. There are so many things that happen that are hard to read, and it’s quite interesting in that you never quite know what the point is or what might happen for much of the story. Anything I might have assumed early on ended up being incorrect and I can safely say at no point in the story did I have any idea where any of this was going or what it was all going to add up to by the end.
I can’t say that I really loved this book, or even liked it that much. It made me uncomfortable, although not necessarily in a bad way. It didn’t suck me in and make me need to know what happened next, in fact I lazy-read it over a period of months and it’s a rather short book so it isn’t like it required a lot of time to read.
I am happy that I read it though, even though I don’t quite know what to make of it.
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Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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