The Way The Light Bends

The Way The Light Bends

by Cordelia Jensen


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The Way The Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen

A powerful novel in verse about fitting in, standing out, defining your own self-worth, and what it takes to keep a fracturing family whole.

Virtual twins Linc and Holly were once extremely close. But while artistic, creative Linc is her parents' daughter biologically, it's smart, popular Holly, adopted from Ghana as a baby, who exemplifies the family's high-achieving model of academic success.

Linc is desperate to pursue photography, to find a place of belonging, and for her family to accept her for who she is, despite her surgeon mother's constant disapproval and her growing distance from Holly. So when she comes up with a plan to use her photography interests and skills to do better in school—via a project based on Seneca Village, a long-gone village in the space that now holds Central Park, where all inhabitants, regardless of race, lived together harmoniously—Linc is excited and determined to prove that her differences are assets, that she has what it takes to make her mother proud. But when a long-buried family secret comes to light, Linc must decide whether her mother's love is worth obtaining.

A novel in verse that challenges the way we think about family and belonging.

Praise for The Way the Light Bends

"I fell into Linc's world and found myself changed by her journey. Readers will fall in love with her and her struggles." -Dhonielle Clayton, author of the Tiny Pretty Things series and The Belles

"Achingly beautiful, honest and visceral. This is a must read for anyone who has questioned whether they belong." -Meg Wiviott, author of Paper Hearts

"Linc's struggle to chart her own future, unfolding in graceful verse, makes a compelling read." —Kirkus Reviews

"Give this book to any students who have ever felt invisible or who have ever struggled to feel at home in a traditional academic setting." —School Library Journal

"The meshing of word choice and space integrates the protagonist's inner struggles with her undeniable talent as a budding photographer." —Voice of Youth Advocates

"Rich with imagery that embodies longing and heart, a girl's desire to recapture what was, and her joy over discovering her own kind of success." —Booklist

"The book tugs at the heartstrings by focusing on family dynamics and expectations that are universal experiences." —School Library Connection

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399547447
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/27/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 371,294
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Cordelia Jensen holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches creative writing in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and children. She is also the author of Skyscraping. Follow her on Twitter @cordeliajensen.

Read an Excerpt

What’s Alive

With a click and a breath

I capture branches squirrels pigeons

two girls skipping in time everything alive, pulsing—
the park the heartbeat of Manhattan,
of who we used to be.

Holly doesn’t notice the beauty in the shape of a puddle the curved blade of grass,
doesn’t remember jogs right by the trickling stream that became rushing water when our wands commanded.
Too focused on her boyfriend Stefano on school on soccer for any memory of us.

I take picture after picture till I’m so far behind
I’m not sure I can catch up.

In Rhythm

We used to be two girls walking hand in hand arms wrapped around each other tight her hand deep brown,
mine, freckly, white,
matching steps and skips our footsteps falling in rhythm

two beams of light two stretching shadows

moving side by side

in tempo in time.

Together, Apart

Now we are two girls walking through Central Park
//together, apart//


hands wrapped tight around my camera, my phone

the other

hands wrapped tight around someone else t   p w   a o     t

one in light one in shadow


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The Way The Light Bends 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
Linc and Holly are sisters. They're almost the same age and consider themselves twins. Holly is adopted and Linc is a biological daughter. Linc is the creative sister and Holly the athletic one with academic success. Their mother loves everything Holly does, but doesn't approve of anything Linc finds important. This makes it hard for Linc to pursue her dreams. She'd love to go to art school and would like to take photography lessons, but her parents just care about her grades and nothing else. Linc finds a way to prove she is worthy of her parents' approval. She secretly takes photography lessons and works hard on a school project about Seneca Village and Central Park's rich history. Linc is keeping her wishes, plans and goals a secret. Photography makes her feel good about herself for the first time. However, she knows it will get her in trouble once her parents discover she's done something without their permission. Linc's home situation is getting even tenser than it already was and she's in trouble at school, will she ever get out of the dire situation she's in? The Way the Light Bends is a beautiful poignant story. Linc is a sweet and talented girl. I loved her creativity and really liked the way she sees the world. Linc's mother constantly pressures her and Linc's life lacks warmth, love and appreciation. I had tears in my eyes when I read about the way she's being treated at home. She's such a wonderful special girl and deserves a lot more than she gets. Linc is desperate to get approval and to be loved and therefore she doesn't always make the best choices, this is heartbreaking to witness. She learns from her mistakes though and she never stops trying, which is something I greatly admired about her character. Cordelia Jensen has perfectly captured what it's like to live with unreasonable expectations and a lack of empathy and I loved the amazing honest and raw way she describes Linc's situation. Cordelia Jensen's words are gorgeous. I fell in love with her mind-blowing poetic verse from the first sentence. The Way the Light Bends immediately captivated me, I didn't want to stop reading and finished this fantastic book in one sitting. Because of the stunning writing it's a story I could read over and over again. Cordelia Jensen knows how to describe emotion and there are many impressive layers in The Way the Light Bends. I was mesmerized by this brilliant book and highly recommend it.
JLeighG More than 1 year ago
The Way the Light Bends is a strong verse book that blends history and contemporary themes. Linc is a strong main character that I related to because of her strong will to be herself even when her family pushes her down. There is also LGBT, adoption, and Ghana representations. The photography references were fun to read and really brought the book together. This book is well-constructed and emotional. I can’t wait to read more of Cordelia Jensen’s work!