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The Light We Lost


The Light We Lost

As a child, I remember marveling at how people my parents’ age were able to recall, in staggering detail, where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that JFK had been shot. I didn’t really understand that experience until September 11, 2001, when whole new generations had a new terrible moment indelibly etched on memory. Of course we all still remember where we were at that instant when the world changed; in Jill Santopolo’s debut novel, THE LIGHT WE LOST, two people will also always remember that moment, that day, as the day they found each other even as the world felt like it lost everything.

Lucy and Gabe have just begun their senior year at Columbia; a chance meeting on 9/11 results in the kind of intense conversation common among college students, especially against the backdrop of such extraordinary circumstances. The events of that horrific day in many ways set both Lucy and Gabe on the professional paths that will define their lives --- and also sets them on an unmistakable trajectory toward one another.

"Readers who come away from Jojo Moyes’ novels with tears in their eyes will want to seek this book out --- and be sure to have an ample supply of tissues at hand."

Their post-graduation romance --- as Lucy gets a job working on a socially conscious animated children’s television show, and Gabe explores the possibility of turning his passion for photography into a vocation --- is both passionate and volatile, as the two young lovers constantly challenge and support one another. Soon, however, Gabe’s pursuit of a career in photojournalism --- the very idealistic impulse that attracted Lucy in the first place --- will be the thing that tears them apart. Gabe accepts an assignment in the Middle East, and although he would love nothing more than to have Lucy join him, she can’t abandon the career she’s working so hard to establish in New York.

What follows over the next decade and more is a series of near misses, regrets, betrayals and attempts at reconciliation that, over the years, will find Lucy experiencing true happiness away from Gabe and subsequently questioning that happiness. What role did their romance then play in their adult lives now? Is it possible to find joy and satisfaction at different times with different partners who couldn’t be less alike? And if a love affair began at a moment of such global emotional intensity, was it meant to be…and will it be fated to reignite in the future?

THE LIGHT WE LOST is devastatingly romantic in its considerations of love and in its dramatic portrayals of love’s power and manifestations. The romantic relationships are vivid and memorable; perhaps inevitably, Lucy’s various female friends lack depth and characterization by comparison. Nevertheless, Santopolo's story offers numerous opportunities for reflection and discussion about the nature and variety of human romantic relationships. Readers who come away from Jojo Moyes’ novels with tears in their eyes will want to seek this book out --- and be sure to have an ample supply of tissues at hand.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 26, 2017

The Light We Lost
by Jill Santopolo

  • Publication Date: February 6, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0735212767
  • ISBN-13: 9780735212763