This Raging Light

This Raging Light

by Estelle Laure


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For fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell comes a gorgeous debut novel about family, friends, and first love.
Lucille Bennett is pushed into adulthood after her mom decides to “take a break”…from parenting, from responsibility, from Lucille and her little sister, Wren.  Left to cover for her absentee parents, Lucille thinks, “Wren and Lucille. Lucille and Wren. I will do whatever I have to. No one will pull us apart.”
Now is not the time for level-headed Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
"A funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise.”
—Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight 
“Lucille may not take down a beast or assassinate any super bads, but she’s what heroines look like and love like in real life.”
Justine Magazine


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544534292
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 12/22/2015
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,312,512
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

The debut author 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 an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults. She lives with her two children in Taos, New Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Day 14
Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school. I kind of knew she wasn’t going to show up, on account of what I got in the mail yesterday, but I waited up all night just the same, hoping, hoping I was just being paranoid, that my pretty-much-never-wrong gut had made some kind of horrible mistake. The door didn’t squeak, the floorboards never creaked, and I watched the sun rise against the wall, my all-the-way-insides knowing the truth: we are alone, Wrenny and me, at least for now. Wren and Lucille. Lucille and Wren. I will do whatever I have to. No one will ever pull us apart. That means keeping things as normal as possible. Faking it. Because things couldn’t be further from.
Normal got gone with Dad.
 It gave me kind of a funny floating feeling as I brushed Wren’s hair into braids she said were way too tight, made coffee, breakfast, lunch for the two of us, got her clothes, her bag, walked her to her first day of fourth grade, saying hi to everyone in the neighborhood while I tried to dodge anyone who might have the stones to ask me where the hell my mother was. But I did it all wrong, see. Out of order.
I should make coffee and get myself ready first. Wren should get dressed after breakfast and not before, because she is such a sloppy eater. As of this morning, she apparently doesn’t like tuna (“It looks like puke—ick”), which was her favorite yesterday, and I only found out when it was already packed and we were supposed to be walking out the door. I did the piles of deflated laundry, folded mine, hung up Mom’s, carefully placed Wren’s into her dresser drawers, but it turns out none of her clothes fit right anymore. How did she grow like that in two measly weeks? Maybe because these fourteen days have been foreverlong.
These are all things Mom did while nobody noticed. I notice her now. I notice her isn’t. I notice her doesn’t. I want to poke at Wren, find out why she doesn’t ask where Mom is on the first day of school, why Mom isn’t here. Does she know somewhere inside that this was always going to happen, that the night the police came was the beginning and that this is only the necessary, inevitable conclusion?
Sometimes you just know a thing.
 Anyway, I did everything Mom would do. At least, I tried to. But the universe knows good and well that I am playing at something, pretending from a manual I wish I had. Still, when I kissed the top of Wren’s dark, smooth head goodbye, she skipped into the school building. That’s got to count for something.
It’s a balmy morning. Summer doesn’t know it’s on the outs yet, and I quickstep the nine blocks between the schools. By the time I push through the high school doors, I am sweating all over the place.
 And now I’m here. In class. The song Wren was humming on the way to school pounds a dull and boring headache through me, some poppy beat. I’m a little late to English, but so is mostly everyone else on the first day. Soon we’ll all know exactly where we’re supposed to be and when, where we sit. We’ll be good little sheople.
Eden is here, always on time, early enough to stake her claim to exactly the seat she wants, her arm draped over the back of an empty chair next to her, until she sees me and drops it to her side. English is the only class we got together this year, which is a ball of suck. First time ever. I like it better when we get to travel through the day side by side. At least our lockers are next to each other’s.
 She’s so cool, but in her totally Eden way. It’s not the kind of cool that says come and get me. It’s the kind that watches and waits and sees a lot—a thinking kind. Her thick, flaming hair virtually flows over the back of her chair, and her leather-jacket armor is on, which you would think is a little excessive for September in Cherryville, New Jersey, except for the fact that they blast the air conditioning at this school so it’s movie-theater cold, and really I’m wishing I had a jacket, wishing I had packed Wren something cozy in her backpack too, but I’m pretty sure it’s not quite so bad at the elementary school. I think the high school administration has decided that freezing us out might help control our unruly hormones or something.
They are wrong.
 Mr. Liebowitz gives me a look as I sit down. I have so rudely interrupted his standard cranky speech about the year, about how he’ll take no guff from us this time around, about how just because we’re seniors doesn’t mean we get to act like jackasses and get a free pass. Or maybe he’s giving me that look because he knows about Dad, too. People titter all around me, but it’s like Eden and her leather jacket muffle all that noise right out. As long as I have her, I’m okay. I never mess around much with other people anyway. Digby may be her twin, but I’m the one she shares a brain with.
 Meanwhile, Liebowitz looks like Mister Rogers, so he can growl and pace as much as he wants and it has no effect. You know he’s a total softie, that he can’t wait to get home and change into his cardigan and comfy shoes, so he can get busy taking superspectacular care of his plants and play them Frank Sinatra or something. He’ll calm down. He always starts the year uptight. Who can blame him? High school is a total insane asylum. They need bars on the windows, security guards outside. They would never do that here.
 Eden kicks her foot into mine and knocks me back into now. I do not like now, and so I kick back, wondering if playing footsies with my best friend qualifies as guff.
“Dinner,” she mouths.
“Wren,” I mouth back. Shrug.
My eyes tell her about Mom without meaning to.
She shakes her head. Then, “Bitch,” she says in a whisper. I shrug again, try to keep my eyes from hers.
“Bring Wren. My mom will feed the world.”
I nod.
“Digby will be there.” She kicks my foot again.
I make my whole self very still. Stare at Liebowitz as his thin, whitish lips form words.
“Well, he does live at your house,” I say. Superlame.
 “Ladies,” Liebowitz says, all sing-songy warning. “It’s only the first day. Don’t make me separate you.”
Good luck separating us, I want to say. Good luck with that. Go feed your fish and water your plants. Get your cardigan and your little sneakers on, and leave me alone.
 It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won’t you be my neighbor?
When Wrenny and I roll up the hill to Eden’s house in Mom’s ancient Corolla, Digby and his dad, John, are outside playing basketball, and I want to get in the house as fast as possible, because otherwise I might be trapped here all day, staring. I get a little twinge of something seeing a dad and his kid playing ball like dads and kids are supposed to. That’s a real thing, and my hand wants to cover Wren’s face so she can’t see all that she is missing.
Which reminds me. “Wren.”
 “Yeah?” She’s wiping at her shirt, reading a book on her lap, and she’s a little bit filthy, her hair greasy and knotty in spite of my efforts this morning. At some point the braids came out, and she’s reverted to wild.
“You know how Mom hasn’t been around lately?” She stops. Tightens. “Yeah,” she says.
“Well, we don’t want anyone to know about that, okay? Even Janie and Eden and Digby and John.”
 “But Mom’s on vacation. She’s getting her head together. She’s coming back.”
 “Okay, yes,” I say, “but still. We don’t want to tell anyone, because they might not understand that. They might get the wrong idea.”
 “Like that she left us permanently?” There is so much more going on inside that Wrenny-head than I can ever know.
 “Maybe, or at least for longer than she was supposed to.” I reach for the handle to the door because I can’t look at her. “Someone might think that.”
“She didn’t, though,” she says. “She’s Mom.”
“Of course she didn’t.” Lie.
“So who cares what anyone thinks?”
“Wren, just don’t, okay?”
“Some things are private.” I open the door, then lean back across and wipe uselessly at her shirt with my thumb. “Like Mom being on vacation. So, okay?”
 “I said okay, okay?” She gets out and waits, stares at me like I’m the most aggravating person on earth. “Hey, Lu?”
“Yeah?” I say, bracing myself for what’s next.
 “Your mama’s so fat, she left the house in high heels and came back in flip-flops.”
I would tell her that I hate her new obsession with “your mama” jokes, but I’m not in the mood for any dawdling, so I half laugh and get moving. I want to get inside and quick because there’s also the other thing. And by “other” I mean what makes me sweat just standing here. And by “thing” I mean Digby, who I have known since I was seven but who lately makes a fumbling moronic moron out of me, a full-on half-wit. Ask me my name when I’m in his presence and I’m not likely to be able to tell you. I’d probably just say “Lllll . . . lllllllu . . .” and you’d have to catch the drool running down my chin.
I know. It’s not at all attractive.
 But really. Tall, sweaty, and not wearing a shirt, so the muscles are all right there for the watching. He doesn’t exactly glisten, on account of the fact that he’s whiter than white, that he tans by getting freckles, so he’s covered in them now after a whole summer outside. But seeing his hair all plastered to his forehead, his body so long and lean, looping around his dad to get the ball into the hoop, I want to fall out of the car and onto my knees in the driveway, say Lord have mercy, hallelujah, write sonnets and paint him, and worship that one little curve where his neck meets his shoulder that is just so, so perfect.
He is beautiful.
Which is why when he says hi as I pass him, I barely raise a pinky in response. There are two main problems here, aside from the fact that he is Eden’s twin and that’s all kinds of weird. One, he’s had the same girlfriend since the dawn of time. They’re pinned, she wears his jacket, their marriage certificate is practically already signed. Angels bless their freakin’ union. And two, if I ever did get a chance with him, like if he ever kissed me or something, I would die of implosion. I know I sound like a twelve-year-old mooning over some celebrity, and not the extremely self-possessed woman-to-be that I actually am, but something about him makes me lose my mind. Something about the way he moves, about his himness—it shatters me all the way down. So I hope he never does kiss me. That would be nothing but a disaster. No one needs to see me fall apart like that. Least of all him.
Actually, maybe least of all me.

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This Raging Light 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I empathised so much i cried with all the chaallenges. Great character development and a plot that kept me reading.
Anonymous 3 months ago
How do you say digby
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main character Luce transformed through out the story, going through many road bumps but coming out a better person in the end.
JessicaCoffee More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars* This Raging Light is a beautiful, heart-wrenching debut by Estelle Laure. I loved her voice and fell for both main characters, Lucille, and her little sister, Wren, hook, line, and sinker. Talk about good kids put in a horrible situation! Their dad goes crazy, their mom disappears, and Lucille is left to keep them both in school, stop everyone from finding out they're home alone, and find a way to support them. The blurb really is the best summary without giving too much away, but I'd like to add that along with keeping "readers hooked and hoping until the very last page", Ms. Laure also gives you an intimate glimpse at young love, loss, and learning to deal with where loss leaves you. She shows how you never quite know who's going to step up to the plate and help out just when it's needed most, and that, sometimes, though the choices we're given in life aren't always ones we want to deal with, they are the choices that make us who we are. I loved loved loved This Raging Light, and highly recommend it! Pre-order this one, guys. (Comes out right before Christmas.) You won't regret it! *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gaele More than 1 year ago
2.5 stars - rounded Lucille is a teenager with all of those issues and a few more. Her father disappeared after a breakdown and her mother has vanished leaving her alone with her 9 year old sister, little to no money and no stability. Not wanting to risk being split up in foster care, Lucille decides to do the best she can, keep the secret from everyone (but her best friend) and just carry on. School, work, friendships and one cute boy who seems interested and interesting just add to the myriad of situations to navigate. The writing is wonderfully poetic, if not wholly true to the character’s as described, and does tend to over-play things. Often I felt as if the stressors that Lucille faced were enough without overly flowery metaphor dancing on the line of telenovela. Sure, it did bring home the point, but at the expense of truly feeling the character’s emotions. Then, we have the ‘best friend’ who is everything but- wholly disruptive is her. With everything else, did we really need friend drama from some seemingly unnecessary direction? The plot is full, perhaps with three or four elements too many. Lucille and Wren and their struggle to stay together and manage without parental figure was a story in and of itself. Then we add friend drama, a romance with an unavailable boy, an accident, a mystery and the metaphors. For nearly everything. WHY didn’t the editor suggest more focus and eliminate some of the extra twists – I think it would have served the story and created a more compelling and complete book. Then we add in the secondary characters and all too oft-repeated quirks and tics that bring readers to the point of distraction. Frustrating is not a strong enough word. Sadly, this story had a strong and solid single plot element in the girls, then focus, interest and resolution were sacrificed to the multiple additional elements added for dramatics – all of which could have been eliminated in favor of following the story of the growth and struggles that Lucille and Wren faced as abandoned and struggling to survive on their own. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
After her dad's breakdown and her mother's decision to leave town indefinitely to regroup, seventeen-year-old Lucille finds herself alone with bills mounting, food dwindling, and her little sister Wren who she is desperate to shield from everything that is quickly going to hell. But with so many things missing from her life, Lucille isn't sure what to do when other things start appearing--like inconvenient feelings for her best friend Eden's twin brother, magical deliveries of food, and her changing dynamic with Eden. Lucille is used to being responsible and she knows that if she takes everything one step at a time she can handle everything. She can find a job, she can take care of Wren, she can make sure no one notices that their mother is conspicuously absent. But Lucille isn't sure if she can do all of that while holding onto her best friend and maybe falling in love in This Raging Light (2015) by Estelle Laure. This Raging Light is Laure's stunning debut novel. I saw a lot of myself and my experiences mirrored in Lucille's story. Talking about this book has become inseparable from talking about my own life. This Raging Light wasn't something I even knew I needed until I had finished it. In my mid-twenties I was underemployed and took on a lot of debt. It was incredibly hard to watch that debt pile up and to realize there was no one to fall back on. During that same time my mother was hospitalized twice and for a while it was touch and go. Worse, I had almost no support system the first time and no one I felt comfortable talking to about what was happening. Those years were some of the hardest in my life and, even now, are some of the hardest to talk about. I came home many nights and cried until I ran out of tears. I was exhausted and certain that I couldn't handle anything else. But I got up each day and I did it all again. I kept going. It was hard and it was awful but I know now that I can handle anything--everything--because of that time in my life. This Raging Light is that kind of story and Lucille is that kind of character. She is an unintentional hero and an ordinary girl. She is scared and brave and strong. I am so glad that readers get to meet a girl like Lucille who pushes through every obstacle and just keeps going because that's the only option. There's no easy way to say it: This Raging Light is a real gut punch to read--especially the final third. But here's the thing: real life is like that too. Laure expertly captures the way in which everything is heightened and seems to happen all at once in any high anxiety situation. Lucille's story is somber and introspective. There is romance but there are also themes of family and survival as Lucille works to build a support system for herself from scratch. The way Lucille handles her life is extremely realistic and well-handled throughout the novel. The way every awful thing stacks up and the way Lucille often doesn't get a chance to breathe is authentic and conveyed incredibly well with her unique narrative voice. This Raging Light is a page-turner about first love and inner-strength. It's an empowering novel about never giving up and survival. Highly recommended. I can't wait to see what Laure does next. Possible Pairings: The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, Golden by Jessi Kirby, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, Elea
SMParker More than 1 year ago
Achingly gorgeous.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
3 stars (liked it) Posted on: Brandi Breathes Books Blog Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy) for free. I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free. I wanted to read this one because I was interested in her being basically on her own and having to take care of her little sister. she was pretty easy to like she had a very lyrical voice and even though she's pretty dramatic about her crush on Digby, her best friend Eden's brother. Otherwise she showed a responsibility and a maturity and trying to take care of her sister. I hate that she hide it and couldn't get more help, but can definitely see that she was all too afraid that if word got out that social services would get involved and they would most likely be separated. It was easy to get drawn into the book in the beginning, the pages passed pretty quickly for me but the thing that I found and I've also seen in several other reviews is that it really started to take on too many plot lines. Having dad who has mental issues and the mom who is taking holiday while she leaves her two daughters to fend for themselves would have been enough... especially having the best friend issues, and the crush that turns into more with a guy who already has a girlfriend and had been with her for so long. Adding more to that just was overkill. Another thing that I really did not like is that with the romance. Digby already had a girlfriend. Now, I think its fine for her to be crushing on him while he's with someone else, especially since the crush is dated. but whenever they start getting more serious is when I started having more issues with it. I don't really like cheating aspects in a book and I know that I have several blog buddies who are completely and utterly against it and hate it. But I loved the bond between her and her sister. She was so protective, and I liked how mature she was in those instances. She got a job to help with bills, since she doesn't hear from her mom, and she has only sent 100 dollars once. There is someone that is helping her in secret, and then Digby and Eden have helped with watching Wren. These things kept me reading, and I guess that even though it was cheating, I couldn't help liking Digby as the book went on--how intuitive he was to Lucille and how sweet. He was good with Wren, and they undeniably had chemistry. I guess that is from being in Lucille's head with the feelings and emotions to back it up. One of the excess was the fight between Lucille and Eden. I liked their friendship in the beginning but the frustration when Eden took Lucille's lashing out too personally. Lucille was really stressed and even though she yelled at them, I think I could overlook because of all she was dealing with. Bottom Line: Addictive and I liked Lucille despite my issues with cheating and too many plots and not enough resolution for me.
Madison-s_Library More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. From the brief blurb it had infinite possibilities. I was pleased to find that it fulfilled many possibilities for greatness. Like poetry trapped in prose body, this book sings. What is this book really about? Well, it's just like the blub says- it's about a girl, a strong, brave, wild girl who is left alone to care for her younger sister. It's about finding and fighting for love. It's about friendship. It's about everyday magic and the people in life who share it. It's about keeping on keeping on and then looking back and finding that you were strong enough after all. When Lucille's mother leaves for a vacation and doesn't return, Lucille knows it is up to her to look after her little sister. But the bills are piling up, people are asking questions and Lucille knows that no one must find out if she wants to keep what's left of her family together. Lucille relies upon her best friend Eden and Eden's twin brother Digby to keep her secret, but this gets more complicated as it becomes harder to hide her growing feelings for Digby. I really enjoyed this book. At first I was confused as I began reading, but also totally intrigued. The writing style is rather choppy. Short sentences. Slightly abstract. But it works. It so works. As I kept reading, because I couldn't stop, I was more and more drawn into the story. The romance - awkward and dangerous and sweet. The friendship, which is so strong between Lucille and Eden, but which is challenged as Lucille struggles to survive. Wren, Lucille's younger sister, who is a fantastic character. She loves the food network and is smart and hilarious and heartbreaking. Honestly, I think it's best to start this book knowing only a little about the plot line. The freshness of the writing style, the clever symbolism, is what then captures your attention. Beautiful. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
joh More than 1 year ago
What a gorgeous book. I came into this expecting a lot because a) Laure’s agent is Emily van Beek, b) the concept is one I find interesting, and c) check out those blurbs. The ones that meant the most to me were from Morgan Matson, whose books I unabashedly love, and Laura Ruby, of BONE GAP fame. It’s funny: there are some elements in this book that I normally wouldn’t like, but somehow, I just liked it overall. It’s one of those lovely realistic novels where you’re not necessarily being hit with BIG PLOT POINTS, but somehow the pages just keep turning and suddenly you’ve finished the book and it’s only been a few hours, and you want to just take a step back and think. The concept immediately appealed to me because, as a firstborn myself, I find protagonists who are shouldering a heavy burden of responsibility sympathetic—though I can safely say that this book made me grateful for my amazing parents, who did not go crazy and leave me alone as a teenager. I wasn’t disappointed. Lucille is a wonderful character: strong, not necessarily always self-aware, but fiercely loyal. I also loved Eden, Digby, and their family; I was glad that we had at least one fully functional family in the picture. I also love the name Digby (Jones, not so much). The cast of characters is, in general, endearing. It’s a short book and there are a lot of them, and I’ll admit I didn’t love Fred right away the way Lucille did, but somehow they all mean a lot: her friends, her coworkers, her neighbors. And it feels realistic; most of us do have a whole network of people fighting for us behind the scenes, even when we don’t realize it, and we wouldn’t be the same without them. So, some of those elements that would have annoyed me in a different story, but which only sometimes did here: for example, Digby, the love interest, having a girlfriend. I never like cheating as an element in romance, and I honestly think Laure could have written a (more) compelling romance without it, too—she convinced me very well why Lucille found their romance forbidden, if only because she would implode if they were ever together. But Laure does deal with it delicately. I liked Eden, but sometimes felt her role was undercut in favor of Digby’s—but this is a short book, and admittedly we can’t spend as much time with every other character as we’d like. There are also times when Laure breaks into stream of consciousness writing with irregular punctuation and a lot of repetition and stops, and I usually really dislike that and find it distracting, but I didn’t mind so much here. This book is also a little heavier on the romance, especially in Lucille’s thoughts, than I normally find super appealing. But again, I so sympathized with Lucille that I was quite easily swept along for the ride. This is a quiet book that packs an emotional punch and it’s an impressive debut, to boot. I’m glad there will be a companion book!
PaulAllard More than 1 year ago
Teenage girl survives family disruption and love crisis Lucille Bennett, aged 17, finds herself having to take care of her 9-year-old sister and herself when she is abandoned by her parents. Along with school and having to find money from somewhere, she also has to deal with her love for her best friend’s brother. With the help of all around her, she makes a good go of surviving and coming out ahead in this hopeless situation. With first-person narration, there is a lot of teenage angst and introspection. It does tug at the heartstrings a bit but this 62-year-old male reader is not the intended audience as it is really aimed at teenage girls who will lap it up. Engaging enough, the plot leads the reader to want to know how it all plays out after the end of the novel