Picture Us In The Light

Picture Us In The Light

by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484726020
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 116,191
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author


Kelly Loy Gilbert believes deeply in the power of stories to illuminate a shared humanity and give voice to complex, broken people. She is the author of Conviction, a William C. Morris Award finalist, and lives in the SF Bay Area. She would be thrilled to hear from you on Twitter @KellyLoyGilbert or at www.KellyLoyGilbert.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The letter from Rhode Island School of Design comes Thursday.

In the moment it most likely arrives at my house in all its power to alter the course of my entire life, I'm sitting next to Harry in the Journalism Lab, trying to fake my way through the graphic Regina asked me to illustrate for Helen Yee's op-ed. I'm not checking my email, and in fact I've logged out of my account, partly because based on my obsessive stalking of old College Board forums I'm not expecting the decision just yet, but also partly because I know I'll never feel ready to find out and I can't risk getting that email at school in front of everyone.

When I get home that afternoon my dad is back from work early. He doesn't even let me get onto the property line before he's waving the letter in my face. My chest goes so tight it feels like my rib cage split right down the middle, my exposed heart pounding in open air. "That's from —?" I start to say, and then can't say it aloud.

"Yes, yes. It's finally here from RISD." He and my mom both pronounce it like four separate letters, R.I.S.D., instead of ris-dee. He's beaming. "Open it, Daniel, what does it say?"

"Okay. Um." I take a deep breath, try to calm my thudding heart. "Okay. Let's go inside first."

"It's the same outside or inside."

Except that inside we don't risk the neighbors getting a live-action shot of my every dream disintegrating. "Well —"

"Open it. Why wait?"

I applied for early decision two months and four days ago, and I've never been one of those people who can just put something so life-altering out of my mind. It's stupid how you can wait for something with every part of you, your every atom aligned toward that one moment, and then when it gets there you want more time. It's just that — if I didn't get in, I don't want to know it yet. I want the safety of hope just a little while longer.

"Here." He grabs it from me. "I'll open for you."

"Wait, Ba, I —"

He's too fast for me, though. My parents are convinced I'll get in. The day I turned in the portfolio my dad brought home sparkling cider and three mismatched champagne flutes he bought that day at Goodwill, and I haven't let myself imagine what it will do to them if I didn't make it. He's already got the letter out, is already reading it. "Dear Daniel —"

"Ba —"

Then he flings the letter to the grass. I've lost all vision. The world is a blur. His arms stutter toward me. Finally, I bring myself to look at his face.

He's laughing. Oh, God. My heart swells, shoving my lungs against my rib cage and ratcheting my pulse so high I'm dizzy. I did it. All this time, and I did it. It's real.

He reaches out and pats me awkwardly on the shoulder, and then — he can't contain himself — crushes me in a hug before stepping back, embarrassed, smoothing his shirt. His eyes have reddened.

"Congratulations, Daniel," he says, fighting to keep his voice steady. "Everything is going to be all right for you now."

*
It's real. I did it. I can picture it: my whole life radiating like a sunbeam out from this one point.

I got a scholarship beyond what I let myself hope for, so even if my parents can't pay a dime, I'm going. Inside, I text Harry a picture of the letter. He doesn't answer right away, and even though I know it's because he's in SAT tutoring, there's an empty space inside my excitement and relief that's waiting for him. A few minutes later — he must be hiding his phone from his tutor — his messages come flooding in:

Holy shit Cheng!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I effing told you

Man you were so worried, but I told you Okay draw me something and sign and date it, gonna make hella money off that someday when you're famous Yo actually draw me like ten things, 10x the $$$$$$$$$$$$

That empty space fills, spills over. I can't keep the smile off my face.

Maybe I will draw him something. There's a pull of momentum that's carried over from opening the letter. I pull out a sketchbook, a pen. Maybe muscle memory will take over and I won't have to overthink anything. I slide the pen against the page, let a tiny stream of ink spill out.

And then: nothing. Nothing comes.

Mostly, I draw portraits. From a distance, if you hold them at arm's length or tack them up on a wall, they look like fairly standard realistic renderings, but up close the forms dissolve and you see that what you thought was wavy hair or an earlobe is really a tangle of small vignettes that make up the person's life — a crumpled sheet of homework, say, a discarded candy wrapper, a plate of cupcakes that spell out PROM ? I've always liked objects left behind.

But this is what's been haunting me the past two months: I can't draw anymore. At first I thought maybe it was that I was afraid of drawing something better than what I turned in for my applications, which would make me hate myself for doing early decision. But then it lasted, and keeps lasting, and I'm worried now that the truth is that something's empty at the core of me. That whatever well you're supposed to draw from to put anything worthwhile into the world — mine's run dry.

Once, a few years after we moved here, my dad came home with a new pack of sidewalk chalk for me. It was one of the really good packs, with twenty-four colors and sharp ends, and right away I had the idea that I'd make a gallery out of the sidewalk in front of the house. I'd use the lines in the sidewalk as frames.

I spent hours out there. I was working on a picture of my old best friend Ethan's dog, Trophy, when a man walking down the sidewalk stopped and loomed over me.

I smiled and said hi (in Texas you're friendly like that, and for a while it stuck with me). He was in his sixties, probably, white with gray hair and a gray beard and walking with a cane.

"Crawling all over our sidewalks," he muttered. He jabbed his cane toward me and raised his voice. "You don't own this neighborhood. It's not yours to make a mess all over. That's the problem with you people. You think you can come in here and take over. You tell your parents we don't want you here. You go back where you came from."

The world closed around me. I went inside. I never saw him again.

I never told anyone about it (what would I say?), but for days after that I tried to draw him. I probably had some vague idea that I could turn him into some kind of caricature, just some old guy frothing at the mouth who didn't matter. Maybe you think if you can take something you're bothered by and make it your own somehow you sap it of its power. So I worked on that sneer on his face as he looked at me, those shoulders puffed up with his own rightness. I drew pages and pages of him, and I named him Mr. X.

But he'd already moved in. Now he leers at me from several places on my wall, which I've been drawing on with Sharpies since we moved in, and whispers all the uglier things inside my head. I don't know why I keep him around. I guess I think art should probe the things you're afraid of and the things you can't let go of, but maybe that's just because deep down I want to believe you can conquer them, which might not actually be true.

Anyway. Lately I'm a reverse Midas, everything I touch turning to crap, and so good old Mr. X has been louder lately: You're a fraud, you peaked, it's all downhill from here. The world doesn't need your art. Get a real job.

But now I have concrete proof I'm not a fraud, or at the very least I'm an extremely convincing one. Which should change everything, right? The fog should lift.

I just need to start producing again — prove getting in wasn't a fluke. Prove I do have the future I'm supposed to after all. Prove I deserve my future, at the very least. Not everyone gets one; I know that. It isn't something you can squander.

*
"Let's surprise her."

"Huh?" I look up. My dad's hovering in my doorway, joy radiating off him. He's changed into khakis and a collared shirt, his hair combed. I say, "Where are you going?"

"We'll go to dinner to celebrate when your mother gets home. We'll surprise her."

My dad has always loved surprises. Once, the summer I was eleven, he woke me up in the middle of the night and brought me, groggy, into the garage. On top of his car there was a telltale white paper sack, and he pointed to it.

"I went to Happy Donuts," he said. "A bribe for you for after."

"Um, for after —"

"Daniel." He looked very serious. "On Saturday is Robin Cheung's wedding."

My parents had been taking a ballroom dance class at the rec center for a few years; it was my mom's favorite hobby. (Weird, but: she also, every Summer Olympics, arranges her sleep schedule around the rhythmic gymnastics.) Their friends' son was getting married and my mom had at one point expressed a shy desire to show off the foxtrot they were learning at the wedding, but my dad, apparently, was having trouble with the moves.

"So fast," he complained. The naked light bulb swayed overhead, throwing his shadow self across the bare wooden walls. I was barefoot and in my pajamas. "The tango I can do, the cha-cha, but this one — too fast."

"Um, so you want me to —"

"I bought you donuts," he said quickly, seeing the look on my face. "What else do you want me to buy? I'll buy you new pens. Do you want new pens? I'll buy you whatever you want. And I won't tell your friends. I promise."

I am easily bought. I spent all night out there with him, my elbow resting on his and our hands interlaced as he led me around and around the concrete, his jaw tight with concentration. That weekend at the wedding — it was in the banquet hall at Dynasty, steamed bass and lobster noodles and pink neon uplights that made the lines of everyone's faces look dramatic and sharp — I could see him tapping his fingers impatiently all through the dinner, all through the toasts. When the music started, he leapt up and held out a hand to my mom. I watched them on the dance floor, holding my breath, waiting to see if he'd pull it off. He did. Afterward she was beaming and out of breath, and they went to the open bar and came back with Manhattans for them and a Coke for me and they excitedly recapped all their steps, complimenting each other on their technique and form. I won't lie: it was pretty damn cute. I want them to be that way — that sparkling, that effervescent — all the time.

"She will be so happy, Daniel," he says now. "Can you imagine?" He pats his pocket for his phone. "Should we video her when you tell her?"

"Um — no?"

"She might never be so happy again. Maybe we'll want it to look at later to remember."

"That's so fatalistic, Ba." I get up and follow him out to the living room. "You want me to cook something for dinner instead? I think there's pork chops in the freezer." The one thing I can make: turn on pan, drop meat, cook.

He brushes it away. "No, no, tonight we'll celebrate. When she gets home."

My mom takes care of twin six-year-olds and a four-year-old for a family named the Lis up in the hills vaguely by where Harry lives. We wait for her on the couch. Usually my dad watches mostly news, scanning the screen like he can ward off disaster by watching it happen to other people, but today Planet Earth is on instead.

I grab a blanket from the armchair and wrap myself in it like a burrito. It's been cold these days, and freezing, always freezing in the house, because my parents refuse to turn the heat on. I wear three layers to bed. Last year, when I drew a portrait of my mom, I made one of her eyes the thermostat, turned down all the way to fifty-five. I pull my blanket tighter and let myself imagine living in a (warm, heated) RISD dorm next year. Of all the people who applied, so many people who've probably been practicing their craft all their lives — they chose me.

My dad keeps glancing at the clock, and I can feel him getting restless as it traipses toward six-fifteen. It's a minor emergency to both my parents whenever the other is late getting home, and I know my dad will take his phone from his pocket and tap his fingers against it, ready to call to check on her, right at six-sixteen.

"They were doing roadwork on Rainbow," I say.

"Hm?"

I motion toward his phone. "If she's late. That's probably why."

"Oh. Yes." But he doesn't look any more relaxed. Then, at six-fourteen, we hear the garage door open, and my dad jumps up, his face lighting up again. "Where's your letter?"

"It's on the table."

"Where's my phone?"

He's still patting the couch cushions looking for it when my mom comes in. He rises from the couch, smiling nervously, and then he whips out the phone to record. "Anna — Daniel has news for you."

"News? You have news?" My mom drops her purse and her bags of groceries from Marina. I watch the way their handles go flat, like a dog's ears when it's listening. "You got in?" She clutches my sleeve. "Did you get in? Did you —"

I flirt with the idea of pretending I didn't, of trying to make her think it was bad news, but in the end I can't hold back my grin. Her hands fly to her mouth, covering her smile, and her eyes fill with tears.

"He did it!" my dad yells from behind his phone like we're a hundred yards away, his voice bouncing back at us off the walls and hardwood floor. This video (which he'll watch on loop; I know him) is going to be all over the place, jiggling and blurred. He makes me show off the letter and hug my mom while he's filming. My mom cries.

We go to Santa Clara for Korean barbecue, and I drive, because for whatever reason they always have me drive when we're together. It's not far, fifteen minutes, but you always kind of feel it when you're leaving Cupertino, a bubble piercing. Cupertino's mostly residential neighborhoods and then strip malls with things like the kind of American-y diner that probably used to be big here back when it was all orchards and white people or the Asian restaurants/bakeries/ tutoring centers/passport services/et cetera. It's also its own world — land of overachieving kids of tech titans, of badminton clubs and test prep empires and restaurants jockeying for Yelp reviews and volunteer corps run by freshmen who both care about the world but also care about establishing a long-term commitment to a cause they can point to on their college apps. When we first moved here from Austin, I remember being weirded out by how Asian it was. And how everyone has money, too, but mostly in a more closet way than they do in Texas — here you can drop two million on a normal-looking three-bedroom house, so it's not something you necessarily notice right away the way you notice it when someone has a giant mansion on Lake Austin. (Harry's house is an exception — he has two sisters and both his grandfathers live with them, and all of them have their own bedroom and I think there are at least two other bedrooms no one's using.) I don't think anyone I know needs financial aid for college. I don't think anyone I know even needs loans.

It's packed inside the restaurant, but a table opens up just as we're coming in and my parents smile and smile like it's some kind of miracle. Already I'm sad for when the joy of this wears off, becomes everyday. It hasn't been like this with them in I don't even know how long.

The waitress comes and sets the laminated menus in front of us. My dad squares his shoulders and says, to my mom, "Now?" Over their menus, my parents exchange a long look. I say, "What?" They both ignore me. Then my mom gives a nearly imperceptible nod, and my dad says, "Daniel, we have something for you."

He pulls out a plastic Ranch 99 bag with something inside it. I saw him bring it in, but it didn't register at the time. He hands it to me across the table. "Open it."

"It's for good luck," my mom says. They've taped the bag shut. My family's not the wrapping-paper type.

Inside it's a sweatshirt, the expensive embroidered kind, that says RISD. They forgot to take the price tag off. It cost nearly seventy dollars.

"Try it on," my dad says, beaming, so I shove my seat back far enough that I can shrug into the sweatshirt. It has that new look, the creases still showing where it was folded, and it's at least two sizes too big — for whatever reason both my parents think bigger clothes are practical, maybe because you get more fabric for your money or something — and just enthusiastic enough to look dorky. That, or dickish, like I'm the kind of guy who's going to work it into conversation every chance he gets that I'm going to my first-choice art school. My dad says, "What do you think?"

They must have bought this when I applied, must have had it waiting all along. I feel my eyes filling.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Picture Us In The Light"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kelly Loy Gilbert.
Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Picture Us In The Light 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Cinemabelle More than 1 year ago
Note: I received this from Bookish First but wanted to share my honest opinion. While many novelists refer to their latest works as “the book of my heart,” in the case of young adult author Kelly Loy Gilbert’s finely crafted, humanistic new effort Picture Us In the Light, that description is entirely justified.  Sensitively penned within the immediately convincing first person point-of-view of our main character, high school senior and aspiring artist Danny Cheng, the author pulls us into Picture’s picturesque world within the very first chapter.  After stumbling upon a mysterious box of his father's and going through it with gusto, Danny begins to wonder just how much his loving but secretive parents have been keeping from him. Unable to come of age until he can come to terms with unexplained gaps and tragedies in his past, he enlists the help of his two best friends - only to discover that he can’t examine the lives of those closest to him without doing the same himself.  Balancing wry observations and deft characterizations with heavy subject matter, Loy Gilbert foreshadows big twists to come as we move further into the novel. And although it begins with a steady climb, Picture slows down just long enough to ensure that we feel as connected to the characters as they are to each other.  Now sure she’s got you, the author returns to full speed - moving like a bullet train from roughly the hundred page mark all the way through to its bittersweet but very satisfying final chapter. Written during the tumultuous 2016 election and revised afterward, Loy Gilbert is right on YouTube when she acknowledges the vital role that stories play in this post election world where “facts don't matter,” due to fiction’s empathetic ability to introduce us to people, places, and plights we might not encounter otherwise. Filled with so much internal and external dramatic mystery that in less gifted hands, Picture could’ve easily resulted in a messy collision of conflicts, although there are a few revelations about both the plot and our protagonist that we’re able to deduce long before he does, the author wraps things up artfully.   Dropping hints and red herrings into sentences and passages so gorgeous that I found myself making multiple notes throughout, Kelly Loy Gilbert never once lets us feel as though she’s taken a shortcut on her way to the book’s resolution. Relatively new to twenty-first century post-Harry Potter young adult fiction, if I had not received this stunning Picture through the Bookish First raffle, I would’ve completely missed what’s since become one of the best novels I’ve read so far this year.  To put it another way, it’s a book of the heart indeed.
Shristhi Sharma More than 1 year ago
Disclaimer: I received this book from BookishFirst. Rating: 4 stars Review: It is books like this that impact people so much. The writing of Kelly Loy Gilbert honestly wonderful, as is the plot line of the story. The main character, Danny, really stuck with me even after days of reading this book. The troubles and tragedy of Danny were intricate and well developed. I would definitely recommend this as a must read on your TBR!
WeezieL 9 months ago
Won Hardcover from BookishFirst.com! This book is a perfect 3 stars for me. 3 stars = okay, alright, fine, middle ground. There was a lot to like about this book but in equal measures there was a lot to dislike. I did not like Daniel's parents and that whole shady deal. You need to own up to your mistakes, not run and hide from them, ruining other people's lives in the process. Poor Daniel. He's just trying to be a teenager, figure out his feelings, and draw. But his parents put him in an awful position by lying to him his whole life. I really liked Daniel. I wish he'd been able to be more honest with himself earlier. I didn't like the ending at all. I didn't like Harry by the end at all. Or Regina. Or Joy. Especially Daniel's parents and their terrible decision. They all made wrong, wrong choices.
CoffeeAndAStory More than 1 year ago
"Art doesn't change the ending. It doesn't let you lose yourself that way--the opposite, really; it calls you from the darkness, into the glaring, unforgiving light. But at least--this is why it will always feel like a calling to me--it lets you not be so alone." - Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert is an incredible young adult novel that came out in April this year. I'm so glad I read this one. It has all of the elements of a really great book: memorable characters, nuanced relationships, realistic struggles, and beautiful writing. - Danny, son of Chinese immigrants to America, just got into the art school he's been dreaming of. But he's too distracted by a secret his parents have been keeping from him to really enjoy the news. Then a tragedy occurs that shakes his friend group to its core and Danny has to make peace with his past if he's ever going to build a future. Themes of friendship, immigration, mental illness, homosexuality, and coming of age. 5/5 enthusiastic stars.
Julie Ringenbach More than 1 year ago
This is a real tough one because the content of the story tackles serious issues, such as, suicide, sexuality, and the pressure on young people to live up to their parent's expectations (especially when, like Danny, you are the only child of immigrants) something which I believe many people-young and old could certainly connect with but I felt it all very boring because something was missing in making me care. The majority of the story is really Danny's internal struggle and filling in the family back story which could have been really interesting if it hadn't been hijacked by the day to day life of a high school senior. The mystery. Sure, the synopsis gives a hint at a bit of a mystery that is contained within this novel, however, I didn't think it would play such a huge part in this story. I think that this mystery was one of the main reasons I felt the need to continue reading, even when the story started to drag a little (which I'll talk more about a little later). I wanted to know the secrets that Danny's parents were keeping from him and I could not stop reading
YourDreamComeTrue More than 1 year ago
This book was a no-brainer pick for me by its premise alone. Instead of the usual YA books from a girl's point of view, it's through a boy's first off. The second reason I picked it was because it sounded like it would go along the same lines as the book Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda. And it did every bit of that. I loved the characters. They were so well thought out and developed that I felt like I was friends with them when I was in high school. I also love the deep secret his parents have kept, because there is nothing more intriguing and satisfying than finding out your parents are just as regular as you are, no matter the age gap. The writing was done wonderfully and made for a quick read and Gilbert made me fall in love with this cast of characters.
spellbindingstories More than 1 year ago
I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting myself into when I picked up this book, but it ended up being a very beautiful story. The leading character, Danny, is where the focus of the story lies but there are a multitude of stories within his own. Even if the story is technically about him, I feel like its meaning extended beyond more than just the one individual. The narrative was beautifully written and I was definitely intrigued. However, I do have to admit that it didn't feel like anything was happening until I was more than half-way through the book. The first 200 or so pages essentially functioned as backstory. While this payed off in the long-run, it did initially make me feel like I had to push my way through the first half of the book to get to the good stuff. Overall, I would rate this book around 3.5 stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That second half of the book takes your heart and puts in through a meat grinder. I loved Kelly Loy Gilbert's first book and this just took it right to the next level. So powerful and heavy and moving! I feel like I'll be sad for weeks (in a good way? Like the book found emotional resonance and that's kind of the goal?). Definitely reading some fluffy romance for my next read tho; I need a recovery period!
13835877 More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to read this book after reading a preview of the first few chapters. The preview had left me intrigued about Danny's parents and the secrets they held onto as if their lives depended on the truth never getting out. Gilbert did an excellent job at pacing this story and winding the mystery surrounding Danny's family into the changes and challenges he was facing with the end of his senior year fast approaching. Her easy flowing and conversational writing style made reading this story enjoyable and helped combine Danny's memories with the present day events in his life. There were times where I became frustrated with Danny's parents and their constant need to keep secrets from him. I just wanted them to open their eyes and realize that their secrets were just making things harder on him. It made me think at times they were selfish, but in the end I realized they are two of the most selfless and caring characters I've read about I voluntarily received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
It took me a little bit to get into this book, but once I was, boy was I hooked. There is so much going on...you've got a contemporary romance, a bunch of teens dealing with loss and grief, a conspiracy and mystery, estranged family. I enjoyed how the culture of Asian Americans was explained and used throughout the book. I also liked how no one element of the story was the sole focus, it was a true drama and almost as if you were reading a soap opera or drama tv show. I was kind of shocked when I finally realized what the mystery was all about, I definitely did not see it coming until near the very end. And even my guesses at that point were a little off. I love when a book can totally surprise you like that. I hate when things are too predictable. The ending was fantastic, I don't think I could have asked for a better one. There was possibility there, but also a sense of closure, like everything would somehow work out the way it was meant to. *I won this book as part of the Bookish First program and voluntarily reviewed it after reading.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the creative artist story line. The cover is a real draw literally and figuratively of course. I liked that little hint of a mystery that could change his whole outlook but is the little hint the fact he had a sister who died young and before he was born? That would be a let down of a mystery. I do hope that there would be more of a mystery involved. The bit of his Grandfather being an artist and the drawings of his dead sister was interesting and I would hope that the Grandfather and his being an artist would be more in the story line. The prologue was interesting I did enjoy the idea that atoms can connect people and have the ability to share related feelings I would have liked to have read more about that story instead. The writing was dry and did not give me that feeling that I must turn the next page and read more.
judgie39 More than 1 year ago
Secrets run deep in Danny Cheng's family. One day Danny finds a taped up box in a closet filled with newspaper clippings and drawings. When he questions his parents about the contents, they freeze and refused to talk about it. At first Danny is curious and does a little research, then his parents announce they are moving. Danny tries to navigate the difficulties of his senior year, while finding answers to the secrets his parents have kept hidden for years. He also has a few secrets of his own. After hearing great things and reading many reviews, I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately, for me, it did not live up to the hype. I found the characters to be a little lackluster and not overly likable. I can see why many people would like it, it was just not for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really intrigued by the prologue that describes an experiment. I thought there was going to be more about that but the book was mostly about the parent-child dynamic. A few things that Danny's parents have done seem mysterious. He uncovers clues and you as the reader think of all kinds of scenarios as to why the parents do these things. The truth comes out and it threatens to derail everything. The friend dynamic isn't perfect either. Sometimes he isn't the person he needs to be for his friends or himself. Danny has to confront the things he has done in the past that he feels guilt and shame for. All of this comes at a time when he is preparing to finish high-school and head to an art college. I love the cover art and how it connects to the story. I received this book from Bookish First in exchange for an honest review.
DinaK More than 1 year ago
Oh my goodness, what a page turner. I highly recommend reading it in one day if possible, at the very least read the last half in one day. Of course I had to split up my reading over a few days due to work and life. I really enjoyed this book. It took me on an emotional roller coaster. I am so glad I received a copy of this book. I look forward to reading more of her books. I will go and read Conviction soon, too. I can’t even imagine having to live in fear the way Danny’s family does. I was so glad he had a great support system with his friends. I got so worried towards the end that things would not be resolved but was happy with the ending. One thing that would make the book even more phenomenal would be the illustrations of Danny’s drawings.
Julieth_C More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Bookish First for the copy of this book for an honest review This book has left me very emotional. The author tackled different interesting points with this story. Danny, is our main character and he is going through a rough life at home. The one good thing that happens to him is that he gets into the College he has always wanted to attend, but after that happiness, everything else seems to go downhill. At the beginning of the story we get to see past and presents situations that happened while Danny has been in high school, his best friend Harry is there with him and they have such a nice friendship. There are twists in this story that make it so interesting! Danny's family is not what it seems and the secrets that they hid from him turn his life upside down. The only reason this was a four star instead of five is because of the ending and the decision the parents made, that just broke my heart.
Nurse98 More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Bookish First and the publisher for my copy of this book. I had to think on this book for a few days before I wrote my review, because I liked it so much, and because it made me mad but I wanted to understand why. Danny spends his whole life thinking one thing about his family and eventually finds out it's all a lie. I like reading about the high expectations being a child of an immigrant placed on him and trying to understand that life better. The author did a good job of showing us how a teenager today has to deal with the pressures of school, friends, parents and romantic feelings. It stressed me out just reading it and made me think a little about how much pressure I put on my own teen daughters. What made me mad...Danny's dad. I get that he was an immigrant, I get that he wanted the best for his son, and in the end I get why he sent his daughter away when she came to find him. But gosh he was so so selfish. He really never took in to account what his wife wanted, not when they lived in their home country and were making the decision to come to the U.S., not when she asked him to stop his experiment, and he didn't tell her about their daughter coming to visit him. He never took in to account how it would affect Danny pulling him out of school right before graduation, I get he was trying to hide but geez. The man thought of nothing but himself. And in the end I think it was really the mom who decided to do what they did to give Danny a chance. Great book, look forward to more from this writer.
queenivanka More than 1 year ago
My synopsis: In Cupertino, the students are surrounded by high expectations from parents, teachers, and peers. There’s a building pressure from college applications and plans for the future. In their world, there is no average, there is no middle ground, there is no plan B. Danny, unlike most of his peers, doesn’t come from a wealthy background. He just got into his first choice for art school, RISD, but he’s already feeling the pressure of not living up to everyone’s expectations and he has been staring at blank pages for a while – what if he just isn’t good enough? Themes: art, portraits, LGBT, freedom of speech, suicide, friendships, immigration, parents, biological ties, decisions, college-bound, pressure from high expectations, life, hope, childhood friendships, adoption, Asian culture, Bay area, wealth, upper class, secrets I’ve never read the author’s previous work but after this, she’s definitely under my radar. Poetic and artful in its exploration of difficult and dark issues, Picture Us in the Light is so honest and raw and beautiful. I felt like I spent as much time taking note of the numerous quotes as I did reading it – Kelly Loy Gilbert’s prose is an art itself. Even though it had some funny and amusing moments, this is definitely not a fluffy read. The plot isn’t exactly linear – there is a bit of a mysterious element in the plot, but contrary to my initial impression, it isn’t the point nor the major focus of the novel. It’s almost written like a memoir – Danny’s first-person narrative weaves memories and philosophical musings into his daily life. It’s weird because I really wouldn’t be able to tell you one climactic moment: I think every reader will choose a different significant point in the story. I suppose the character I enjoyed most is Harry, Danny’s best friend. I loved his relationship with Danny, but also with everyone else – he’s so dependable and he’s such a true friend. He’s the guy who’s liked by everyone, everyone at ease around him. He’s the guy you’d love to hate (just so someone hates him) but can’t help but love, anyway. He actually reminded me of Gideon from Foolish Hearts. He’s always there for Danny – he’s a stickler for rules, but when Danny needed him to skip class so they could drive somewhere eight hours away – he’s there, no questions asked. He’s the friend that everyone wished they could have. Another promising character that I wish had been explored more was Regina. For a while, I thought there would be more, but that’s the thing with first-person POV’s – the development of other characters are just so limited. It’s really hard to do that, and only a few authors achieve it in a satisfactory way. Overall, I really did like the novel, less so because of the plot or the characters, more so because of the author’s particular approach in discussing the themes. If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, this one might not be for you, just yet. I’d recommend it to fans of John Green (because I am!) – it has the same qualities we love about John Green’s writing: philosophical musings, an almost melancholy tone, honest and relatable characters. I also think this one’s a great read for someone who’s college-bound, and is at the point in their life that almost seems overwhelming – all the crazy decisions you have to make, all the expectations, the beginning of something new. It can be such a scary, difficult time. And I think this book gives voice to that. Thank you to BookishFirst.com for copy
queenivanka More than 1 year ago
My synopsis: In Cupertino, the students are surrounded by high expectations from parents, teachers, and peers. There’s a building pressure from college applications and plans for the future. In their world, there is no average, there is no middle ground, there is no plan B. Danny, unlike most of his peers, doesn’t come from a wealthy background. He just got into his first choice for art school, RISD, but he’s already feeling the pressure of not living up to everyone’s expectations and he has been staring at blank pages for a while – what if he just isn’t good enough? Themes: art, portraits, LGBT, freedom of speech, suicide, friendships, immigration, parents, biological ties, decisions, college-bound, pressure from high expectations, life, hope, childhood friendships, adoption, Asian culture, Bay area, wealth, upper class, secrets I’ve never read the author’s previous work but after this, she’s definitely under my radar. Poetic and artful in its exploration of difficult and dark issues, Picture Us in the Light is so honest and raw and beautiful. I felt like I spent as much time taking note of the numerous quotes as I did reading it – Kelly Loy Gilbert’s prose is an art itself. Even though it had some funny and amusing moments, this is definitely not a fluffy read. The plot isn’t exactly linear – there is a bit of a mysterious element in the plot, but contrary to my initial impression, it isn’t the point nor the major focus of the novel. It’s almost written like a memoir – Danny’s first-person narrative weaves memories and philosophical musings into his daily life. It’s weird because I really wouldn’t be able to tell you one climactic moment: I think every reader will choose a different significant point in the story. I suppose the character I enjoyed most is Harry, Danny’s best friend. I loved his relationship with Danny, but also with everyone else – he’s so dependable and he’s such a true friend. He’s the guy who’s liked by everyone, everyone at ease around him. He’s the guy you’d love to hate (just so someone hates him) but can’t help but love, anyway. He actually reminded me of Gideon from Foolish Hearts. He’s always there for Danny – he’s a stickler for rules, but when Danny needed him to skip class so they could drive somewhere eight hours away – he’s there, no questions asked. He’s the friend that everyone wished they could have. Another promising character that I wish had been explored more was Regina. For a while, I thought there would be more, but that’s the thing with first-person POV’s – the development of other characters are just so limited. It’s really hard to do that, and only a few authors achieve it in a satisfactory way. Overall, I really did like the novel, less so because of the plot or the characters, more so because of the author’s particular approach in discussing the themes. If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, this one might not be for you, just yet. I’d recommend it to fans of John Green (because I am!) – it has the same qualities we love about John Green’s writing: philosophical musings, an almost melancholy tone, honest and relatable characters. I also think this one’s a great read for someone who’s college-bound, and is at the point in their life that almost seems overwhelming – all the crazy decisions you have to make, all the expectations, the beginning of something new. It can be such a scary, difficult time. And I think this book gives voice to that. Thank you to BookishFirst.com for copy
gelm More than 1 year ago
Feels Like I Read it Already I tried, but I just could not finish this book. I could only make it to chapter three. It is way too similar to several books that I have recently read, i.e. Starfish, (and I enjoyed those books so much more than this one). Asian boy wants to be an artist and struggles with finding himself as an artist. He also meets a potential teacher/ inspiration and I felt like he was not going to take her advice. I feel like there was probably a lot more to this story, especially with the main character's friends and parents, but I just could not get there. Maybe if the book led with what happened to their friend group (which I did not get to) I would have enjoyed it more? The story was going along really slowly and the prologue really confused me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has a lot of important things to get across. There are issues of immigration, parents, suicide, friends, being gay; basically anything that might be encountered by a teenager. Sometimes, that makes the story drag. There are too many thing going on for any one thing to be a real focus. With that said, the tension of the story is good and the aspects that were well-fleshed out were compelling. Danny is a good and believable narrator, but sometimes he was difficult to connect with considering all of the issues he was facing. The writing captures his thoughts well. It is descriptive, easy to follow, and not tiring. Each of the characters has good depth and makes the story enoyable. The ending felt a little empty. Like, there should have been another few pages to finish tying things up but it wan't terrible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Danny feels as if his life is going well.  He lives in the affluent city of Cupertino with his over-protective Chinese American parents and a group of ambitious friends.  He also just got accepted into the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design but things are not quite what they seem and Danny makes a startling discovery on the shelf of his parents pantry.  This young adult novel explores many different important topics, including suicide and immigration, and does so in a way that slowly uncovers the details of what has happened in Danny's life leading up to this point.  I also enjoy the friendships and how they are imperfect and always evolving.  At times, this book is meandering and slow moving but I really think that it does a great job of exploring the life of these teens.  I received an early copy of this book through Bookish First in exchange for an honest review.