Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb


I listened to this audio book, and I have to say—they couldn’t have picked a better reader!  Her tone and pronunciation was perfect for the 130 year dead narrator.  With audio books, the reader can make or break how the audience receives the story and in this case, it was spot on!

A Certain Slant of Light is about a Helen, a ghost who haunts a high school English teacher.  While some ghosts are tethered to a place, she is clings to a host human.  In her 130 years of death, she has had five hosts, most she has chosen due to their love of literature mirroring hers.  Mr. brown, her host is not aware of Helen’s presence, but she is able to influence him in subtle ways. 

One day while hanging around Mr. Brown’s classroom, Helen is startled to see a teenage boy looking at her.  Not only that, but he can hear her also.  Helen soon learns that the boy’s body has been possessed by another ghost, James, after the boy’s spirit vacated his body, leaving it empty.  Helen and James fall in love and decide that Helen will look for a soul vacant body of her own to possess.  When she ends up in the body of a fifteen year old girl from a repressively religious home, Helen’s naivety of modern life leads to serious problems. 

I read a few of the reviews of this book on Amazon, and was surprised by some on the comments.  First, there was a complaint about the writing style being old fashioned and wordy.  Hello?  The narrator telling the story is from the pre-Civil War era.  Of course her language is going to be dated.  It’s supposed to be!  I actually thought this a part of the beauty of the book. 

Second, I actually read some reviewers calling this erotica.  This is a Young Adult book!  How freaking repressed are these people to think the couple brief, vaguely described love scenes were erotica?  I honestly do not think the average parent of a teenager would object to the material in this book.  I’ve definitely read worse. 

Lastly, there were complaints about the religious themes in the book.  I’m not sure if the reviewers thought the book was preachy or too negative toward religion, but again, I thought the religious theme fit the story.  How do you have a book about ghosts without addressing the question of what happens to you when you die?  Somehow the God question has to be addresses.  As for the strictly religious family that Helen ended up in, I’ve actually met parents like this in my past.  I don’t think they were unrealistic. 

Anyway, I really loved this book.  I thought it the prose was beautiful and the story unique. 

Overall, I give A Certain Slant of Light…

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) -  Amy Adams (Helen), Matthew Bomer (James), Diana Argon (Jenny), James Newman (Billy)

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