Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

A Certain Slant of Light
by Laura Whitcomb

Genre: Dark Fantasy / Young Adult

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

Helen died 130 years ago and since then she has occupied various bodies. She's not exactly a ghost, but she depends on her hosts immensely since she's avoiding what happens after death. Her first host was a poet, heavily hinted to be Emily Dickenson, (thus the title of the book is pulled from her own poetry) and the latest an English teacher, Mr. Brown. It's a lonely existence for Helen - never to be seen, heard, or even feel for herself again, but one day, at school, someone mysteriously sees past her host and slowly awakens her to other possibilities.

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings, are.
None may teach it anything,
'T is the seal, despair,
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.
When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The concept was so unique, so poetic, and so disturbing that I was hooked from the first page. It was enthralling to read the different types of existence Helen has with her hosts and the type of person James helps her become. It's the perfect mixture of grittiness and sensuality to stir the imagination - a must read!

That it's simply a beautiful and haunting love story.

Dislikes: The image of a purgatory parallel to our own life. Scary!


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