What Light by Jay AsherWhat Light by Jay Asher

What Light

byJay Asher

Hardcover | October 18, 2016

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THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a holiday romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing in love again. . . .
"A beautiful story of love and forgiveness."
—Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.
JAY ASHER's debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, a #1 New York Times and international bestseller, has sold over 3 million copies in the United States alone and is now a thirteen-part series on Netflix. The Future of Us, his second novel, was co-authored with Printz Honor winner Carolyn Mackler. He is also the author of the New York Time...
Title:What LightFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.75 × 0.97 inPublished:October 18, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1595145516

ISBN - 13:9781595145512


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Asher back at it again! Ayee! Asher back at it again with the good books! This is the perfect book to read over the holidays, it portrays the themes of hope and forgiveness that were in 13 Reasons Why but in a whole new context! Jay Asher did an incredibly job putting this book together.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Christmas Story Loved this book so much. It's so light and fluffy and full of Christmas Cheer it was amazing. Just simple and pure is what I would describe it. I would recommend this in a heart beat. It's also so PG that a younger teen would really enjoy this.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! It was so good, literally couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Holiday Read for Anytime! Jay Asher is the king of YA literature. THE KING. ALL HAIL JAY ASHER. And I bet you all can completely agree with me because of the success of Thirteen Reasons Why, one of the best books ever. I think the show has just boosted the readership of the novel SO MUCH so I'm hoping that people might feel a little more interested in this because of the movie. What Light is a lovely Christmas-y story that made me squeal and freak out over the one emotion that every human being has felt at one point of their life: LOVE. I am really impressed with this story because it's not JUST about the cutesy lovey stuff. It's more than that; it's the usual Jay Asher fluff. He adds so many more topics that we never really aware about into his gorgeous stories. What Light basically showed us that hey: HOLIDAY BOOKS ARE FOR THE SUMMER. They can be read in the spring, fall—whenever. When I began reading it, I didn't expect that this would be entertaining, but it definitely was. Asher's writing was (almost) as good as ever, and I really appreciated the storyline. This is one of those feel-good stories that makes you want to appreciate life a little more. Caleb and Sierra are the power couple of them all. I fell in love with their romance as well and just pined for them to be together. IT WAS MAGICAL. I felt a real connection to the book because I wanted the best for the characters if you know what I mean. The plot, on the other hand, was quite slow-paced which was the reason why I had to stick with a lower rating for this one. Unlike Asher's other books, it lacked something. Something life-changing. How did Thirteen Reasons Why accomplish this? I really don't know. Let's just say that it was a nice story. Want a pleasing, adorable story? Read this. That's all I can say. *A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh This book was not as good as Asher's first. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from What Light It felt like it just skimmed the surface emotionally. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Aw It makes me want to live on a Christmas tree farm. Such a good book.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A lovely read for the holidays! It was a nice, light and easy book to read and it was great to help get into the holiday spirit. It had an immense amount of cute and cheesy moments and it would probably be perfect for someone who likes to watch Hallmark movies.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good light holiday read While the story itself is a pretty short read, it still has enough depth to the characters to make you understand why they do what they do. Set during the holidays, it also makes you appreciate the value of good friends and family.
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So good If you're a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you will love this book. Don't compare it to "Thrteen Reasons Why", because it is much more sappy- but in a good way. Perfect novel to put you in a festive mood.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I highly enjoyed this! I connected with the main character so much. I could feel her heartbreak and conflict and her joy. This isn't a sad or dark book but it brought me to tears at one point because of how much I could connect with her and the situation she was facing. It's a great Christmas book!
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Huge Disappointment This book lacked any depth at all. The entire thing was predictable. I had high standards for Jay Asher since I read Thirteen Reasons Why, so I thought this would be incredible. The story is large print and only about 250 pages, so it moves too quickly. There should have been much more detail and the ending was a disappointment in addition to the entire story. Would not recommend.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing. I really liked Thirteen Reasons Why. This book lacked all that made his earlier book a page turner.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nice Story This book is very different from 13 Reasons Why (which I loved). It is a "nice" story, not dark in any way and would make a good Christmas read. Suitable for the younger fans of YA.
Date published: 2016-11-10

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE   “I hate this time of year,” Rachel says. “I’m sorry, Sierra. I’m sure I say that a lot, but it’s true.”Morning mist blurs the entrance of our school at the far end of the lawn. We stay on the cement pathway to avoid damp spots in the grass, but Rachel’s not complaining about the weather.“Please don’t do this,” I say. “You’ll make me cry again. I just want to get through this week without—”“But it’s not a week!” she says. “It’s two days. Two days until Thanksgiving break, and then you leave for a whole month again. More than a month!”I hug Rachel’s arm as we continue walking. Even though I’m the one leaving for another holiday season far from home, Rachel pretends like it’s her world that gets turned upside-down each year. Her pouty face and slumped shoulders are entirely for my benefit, to let me know I’ll be missed, and every year I’m grateful for her melodrama. Even though I love where I’m going, it’s still hard to say goodbye. Knowing my best friends are counting the days until I return does make it easier.I point to the tear in the corner of my eye. “Do you see what you did? They’re starting.”This morning, when Mom drove us away from our Christmas tree farm, the sky was mostly clear. The workers were in the fields, their distant chainsaws buzzing like mosquitoes, cutting down this year’s crop of trees. The fog came in as we drove lower. It stretched across the small farms, over the interstate, and into town, carrying within it the traditional scent of the season. This time of year our entire little Oregon town smells like fresh-cut Christmas trees. At other times, it might smell like sweet corn or sugar beets.Rachel holds open one of the glass double doors and then follows me to my locker. There, she jiggles her glittery red watch in front of me. “We’ve got fifteen minutes,” she says. “I’m cranky and I’m cold. Let’s grab some coffee before the first bell.”The school’s theater director, Miss Livingston, not-so-subtly encourages her students to drink as much caffeine as needed to get their shows together on time. Backstage, a pot of coffee is always on. As the lead set designer, Rachel gets unrestricted access to the auditorium.Over the weekend, the theater department finished their performances of Little Shop of Horrors. The set won’t be broken down until after Thanksgiving break, so it’s still up when Rachel and I turn on the lights at the back of the theater. Sitting on the stage, between the flower shop counter and the big, green, man-eating plant, is Elizabeth. She sits up straight and waves when she sees us.Rachel walks ahead of me down the aisle. “This year, we wanted to give you something to take with you to California.”I follow her past the empty rows of red cushioned seats. They obviously don’t care if I’m a blubbering mess during my last few days of school. I climb the steps to the stage. Elizabeth pushes herself up, runs over, and hugs me.“I was right,” she tells Rachel over my shoulder. “I told you she’d cry.”“I hate you both,” I tell them.Elizabeth hands me two presents wrapped in shiny silver Christmas paper, but I already kind of know what they’re giving me. Last week, we were all in a gift shop downtown and I saw them looking at picture frames the same size as these boxes. I sit down to open them and lean against the counter under the old-fashioned metal cash register.Rachel sits cross-legged in front of me, our knees almost touching.“You’re breaking the rules,” I say. I slide a finger beneath a fold in the wrapping of the first gift. “We’re not supposed to do this until after I get back.”“We wanted you to have something that will make you think of us every day,” Elizabeth says.“We’re kind of embarrassed we didn’t do this when you first started leaving,” Rachel adds.“What, back when we were babies?”During my very first Christmas, Mom stayed home with me on the farm while Dad operated our family Christmas tree lot down in California. The next year, Mom thought we should stay home one more season, but Dad didn’t want to be without us again. He would rather skip the lot for a year, he said, and rely solely on shipping the trees to vendors across the country. Mom felt bad, though, for the families who made a holiday tradition out of coming to us to buy their trees. And while it was a business, Dad being the second generation to run it, it was also a cherished tradition for both of them. They met, in fact, because Mom and her parents were annual customers. So every year now, that’s where I spend my days from Thanksgiving to Christmas.Rachel reclines, setting her hands on the stage to prop herself up. “Are your parents still deciding about this being the last Christmas in California?”I scratch at a piece of tape that holds down another fold. “Did the store wrap this?”Rachel whispers to Elizabeth loud enough for me to hear, “She’s changing the subject.”“I’m sorry,” I say, “I just hate thinking about this being our last year. As much as I love you, I would miss going down there. Besides, all I know is what I’ve overheard—they still haven’t mentioned it to me—but they seem pretty stressed about finances. Until they make up their minds, I don’t want to get my heart set either way.”If we hang on to the lot for three more seasons, our family will have run that spot for thirty years. When my grandparents first bought the lot, the little town was in a growth spurt. Cities much closer to our farm in Oregon already had established lots, if not an abundance of them. Now everything from supermarkets to hardware stores sells trees, or people sell them for fund-raisers. Tree lots like ours aren’t as common anymore. If we let it go, we’d be doing all of our business selling to those supermarkets and fund-raisers, or supplying other lots with our trees.Elizabeth puts a hand on my knee. “Part of me wants you to go back next year because I know you love it, but if you do stay we’d all get to spend Christmas together for the first time.”I can’t help smiling at the thought. I love these girls, but Heather is also one of my best friends, and I only see her one month out of the year when I’m in California. “We’ve been going down there forever,” I say. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to suddenly . . . not.”“I can tell you what it would be like,” Rachel says. “It’ll be senior year. Skiing. Hot tubbing. In the snow!”But I love our snowless California town, right on the coast, just three hours south of San Francisco. I also love selling trees, seeing the same families come to us year after year. It wouldn’t feel right to spend so long growing the trees only to ship them all off for other people to sell.“Sounds fun, right?” Rachel asks. She leans close to me and wiggles her eyebrows. “Now, imagine it with boys.”I snort-laugh and then cover my mouth.“Or not,” Elizabeth says, pulling back Rachel’s shoulder. “It could be nice to have it just us, a time without any boys.”“That’s pretty much me every Christmas,” I say. “Remember, last year I got dumped the night before we drove to California.”“That was horrible,” Elizabeth says, though she does laugh a little. “Then he brings that homeschool girl with the big boobs to winter formal and—”Rachel presses a finger to Elizabeth’s lips. “I think she remembers.”I look down at my first present, still mostly wrapped. “Not that I blame him. Who wants to be in a long-distance relationship over the holidays? I wouldn’t.”“Although,” Rachel says, “you did say there are some good-looking guys who work on the tree lot.”“Right.” I shake my head. “Like Dad will let that happen.”“Okay, no more talking about this,” Elizabeth says. “Open your gifts.”I pull up a piece of tape, but my mind is now on California. Heather and I have been friends literally since we can remember. My grandparents on Mom’s side used to live next door to her family. When my grandparents passed away, her family took me in for a couple of hours each day to give my parents a break. In exchange, their house got a beautiful Christmas tree, a few wreaths, and two or three workers to hang lights on their roof.Elizabeth sighs. “Your presents. Please?”I tear open one side of the wrapping.They’re right, of course. I would love to spend at least one winter here before we all graduate and move off to wherever. I’ve had dreams of being with them for the ice-sculpting contest and all the other things they tell me about that go on around here.But my holidays in California are the only time I get to see my other best friend. I stopped referring to Heather simply as my winter friend years ago. She’s one of my best friends, period. I used to also see her a few weeks every summer when visiting my grandparents, but those visits stopped when they passed away. I worry I may not be able to enjoy this season with her, knowing it might be my last.Rachel stands up and walks away across the stage. “I need to get some coffee.”Elizabeth yells after her, “She’s opening our presents!”“She’s opening your present,” Rachel says. “Mine has the red ribbon.”The first frame I open, with the green ribbon, contains a selfie of Elizabeth. Her tongue sticks out sideways while her eyes look in the opposite direction. It’s like almost every other photo she takes of herself, which is why I love it.I press the frame against my chest. “Thank you.”Elizabeth blushes. “You’re welcome.”“I’m opening yours now!” I shout across the stage.Walking slowly toward us, Rachel carries three paper cups of steaming coffee. We each take one. I set mine to the side as Rachel sits back down in front of me, and then I begin to open her present. Even though it’s only one month, I am going to miss her so much.In Rachel’s photo, her beautiful face is sideways, partially blocked by her hand as if she didn’t want the picture taken.“It’s supposed to look like I’m being stalked by the paparazzi,” she says. “Like I’m a big-time actress coming out of a fancy restaurant. In real life, though, there would probably be a huge bodyguard behind me, but—”“But you’re not an actress,” Elizabeth says. “You want to do set design.”“That’s part of the plan,” Rachel says. “Do you know how many actresses there are in the world? Millions. And all of them are trying so hard to get noticed, which is a total turnoff. One day, while I’m designing sets for some famous producer, he’ll take one look at me and just know it’s a waste to keep me behind the camera. I should be in front of it. And he’ll take full credit for discovering me, but I actually made him discover me.”“What concerns me,” I say, “is that I know you believe it’s going to happen just like that.”Rachel takes a sip from her coffee. “Because it is.”The first bell rings. I gather the silver wrapping paper and crumple it into a ball. Rachel carries that and our empty coffee cups to a trash can backstage. Elizabeth puts my frames into a paper grocery bag and then rolls down the top before handing it back to me.“I assume we can’t stop by before you leave?” Elizabeth asks.“Probably not,” I say. I follow them down the steps, and we take our time walking up the aisle to the back of the theater. “I’ll be in bed early tonight so I can work a couple of hours before school tomorrow. And then we leave first thing Wednesday morning.”“What time?” Rachel asks. “Maybe we—”“Three a.m.,” I say, laughing. From our farm in Oregon to our lot in California, it’s about a seventeen-hour drive, depending on bathroom breaks and holiday traffic. “Of course, if you want to get up that early . . .”“That’s okay,” Elizabeth says. “We’ll send you good thoughts in our dreams.”“Do you have all your assignments?” Rachel asks.“I believe so.” Two winters ago, there were maybe a dozen of us migrating tree-lot kids at school. This year, we’re down to three. Thankfully, with so many farms in the area, teachers are used to accommodating different harvest times. “Monsieur Cappeau is worried about my ability to pratique mon français while I’m gone, so he’s making me call in once a week for a chat.”Rachel winks at me. “Is that the only reason he wants you to call?”“Don’t be gross,” I say.“Remember,” Elizabeth says, “Sierra doesn’t like older men.”I’m laughing now. “You’re talking about Paul, right? We only went out once, but then he got caught with an open can of beer in his friend’s car.”“In his defense, he wasn’t driving,” Rachel points out. Before I can respond, she holds up her hand. “But I get it. You saw that as a sign of impending alcoholism. Or bad decision making. Or . . . something.”Elizabeth shakes her head. “You are way too fussy, Sierra.”Rachel and Elizabeth always give me a hard time about my standards with guys. I’ve just watched too many girls end up with guys who bring them down. Maybe not at first, but eventually. Why waste years or months, or even days, on someone like that?Before we reach the double doors that lead back into the halls, Elizabeth takes a step ahead and spins toward us. “I’m going to be late for English, but let’s meet up for lunch, okay?”I smile because we always meet up for lunch.We push our way into the halls and Elizabeth disappears into the bustle of students.“Two more lunches,” Rachel says. She pretends to wipe tears from the corners of her eyes as we walk. “That’s all we get. It almost makes me want to—”“Stop!” I say. “Don’t say it.”“Oh, don’t worry about me.” Rachel waves her hand dismissively. “I’ve got plenty to keep me busy while you party it up in California. Let’s see, next Monday we’ll start tearing down the set. That should take a week or so. Then I’ll help the dance committee finish designing the winter formal. It’s not theater, but I like to use my talents where they’re needed.”“Do they have a theme for this year yet?” I ask.“Snow Globe of Love,” she says. “It sounds cheesy, I know, but I’ve got some great ideas. I want to decorate the whole gym to look like you’re dancing in the middle of a snow globe. So I’ll be plenty busy until you get back.”“See? You’ll hardly miss me,” I say.“That’s right,” Rachel says. She nudges me as we continue to walk. “But you’d better miss me.”And I will. For my entire life, missing my friends has been a Christmas tradition.  

Editorial Reviews

“What Light…harks back to a simpler time of young adult storytelling with its linear first-person narrative and classic themes of forgiveness, hope, and the power of true love…there’s something beautiful about a novel done the old way, particularly when there’s enough heart to make you weep.” —New York Times Book Review“Asher’s gift for prose that packs an emotional wallop was apparent in his 2007 novel, the monster best-seller Thirteen Reasons Why…. Asher infuses his storytelling with a compelling sweetness and innocence; What Light casts the same warm glow as a room strung with twinkly Christmas-tree lights.”—Entertainment Weekly“From the author of Thirteen Reasons Why, What Light is one you won’t want to miss.” —Buzzfeed   “What Light is a love story that make you want to turn on those Christmas carols early.” —Bustle"Asher has done it again. He gets into the heart of what is important in relationships, whether friendship or romance, and his characters are realistic and well developed. Teens will see themselves in these characters, and relate to them."—Voice of Youth Advocates "Certain to please readers seeking an escapist, feel-good holiday read. Asher’s follow-up to his best-selling debut is destined for lots of attention."—Booklist "This is a sweet, light romance, perfect for holiday reading."—School Library Journal"Charming and sweet, Sierra and Caleb’s budding relationship should suit readers looking for a wintertime romance that’s as cozy (and familiar) as candy canes and gingerbread during the holidays." —Publishers Weekly"Asher is a dab hand at capturing everyday situations and conversations; Sierra and her friends tease and quip in ways that are witty but not overly so, and Sierra’s frank talks with her parents have the tone of a mature, beloved only child who is used to being heard even as her parents set the rules."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books“What Light is a sweet, aching tale of first love and forgiveness. It's about second chances and learning to see others for who they really are. Sierra is only passing through town, as she and her family do every year, trying not to get too close to anyone, while Caleb needs to forgive himself for a single horrible act. As he says, everyone is allowed a bad day. But it's not until meeting Sierra that he truly believes it. I laughed, I cheered, I cried, and oh did I fall in love with Sierra, Caleb, and this exquisitely lovely story.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places