Everyone seems to know about Lucille's father – how he went crazy and tried to strangle her mother; and seventeen-year old Lucille had to pull him off of her with her bare hands. But what they don't know, is that while her mother survived the attack, something apparently died within her as well; and she left Lucille and her nine year old sister, Wren, to go on a “vacation” by herself to figure things out.
She said she would be back by the beginning of the school year, but the first day of school has come and gone and Lucille is still trying to fend for herself and keep things as normal as possible for Wren. But bills are coming due and her mother hasn't been in touch, so Lucille has to rely on her best friend, the chain-smoking, literary-quoting ballerina Eden, to watch Wren while she gets a job bussing tables to support herself and her sister.
Eden and her twin brother, Digby, have been Lucille's friends since childhood, but lately she can't seem to catch her breath whenever Digby is around. And even though he has a girlfriend, he's been acting strange around her as well.
If she manages to hold everything together for a few more months, either her mother will return home, her father will return from the halfway house, or she will turn eighteen, and might be able to get custody of her sister. But if anyone finds out her secret before then, child welfare services might get involved and take Wren away from her.
It takes a serious crisis for things to finally start to shift for Lucille, but someone appears to be secretly watching out for her.
This Raging Light is a solid and inspiring first novel by Estelle Laure. The portrayal of a character who faces many real and significant challenges is skillfully balanced with the unlikely support of friends and community members without veering into the saccharine. Readers will be seduced by the love affair budding between Digby and Lucille as much as she is. The characters are believably flawed, but eminently likeable, leaving the reader with hope for humanity.
Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshiper who believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. she has a BA in theater arts and and MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults. She lives with her two children in Taos, New Mexico. estellelaure.com