Book review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Is the future written in the stars'¦ or can we change the course of our lives?
In a heart-fluttering and equally heart-wrenching debut novel – already being dubbed Me Before You meets One Day – Jill Santopolo follows the lives of two young people who meet and fall in love on a day that changed the world.
As the nearby Twin Towers collapse on 11th September 2001, and New York turns into a scene of carnage and fear, students Lucy and Gabe seal the bonds of their epic love story with one magical, lingering kiss.
Get ready to be swept away by one of the most delicious romances of the year as Santopolo delivers her stunning first novel, a beautiful, addictive and tear-jerking tale of two star-crossed lovers for whom destiny turns out to be both cruel and bounteous.
Every love story has a beginning and Gabe and Lucy meet for the first time on 11th September 2001. The two college undergraduates at Columbia University are in class in New York on the day the famous Twin Towers crumble and as the city burns behind them, they kiss for the first time and fill ‘a dark day with light.’
They are drawn by a powerful magnetism that ‘ignores the world around it.’ Daring, brave and haunted by the demons of his unhappy childhood, Gabe is a driven young man, committed to a future in which he will ‘capture’ art through his photography.
Lucy is similarly ambitious, determined to make her mark on the world in a positive way, leaving it ‘a little bit better than it was when you found it.’
Over the next 13 years, Gabe realises his ambition to be a photographer, travelling the world on assignments, while Lucy becomes a wife and mother, as well as a children’s show producer in New York.
However, fate still seems to be with Gabe and Lucy as time and time again they are torn apart and then brought back together. These years are a journey of dreams, desires, jealousy, forgiveness and the undying love that holds them together.
But when Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether this is finally going to be the end of their story…
Santopolu captures so sweetly and so perceptively the complexities of the powerful connection between Gabe and Lucy, their passion more than just sexual chemistry, their love proving to be a ‘binary star’ in which the two characters orbit around each other just as the winds of fate blow them this way and that.
The 13-year odyssey with these extraordinary lovers – both vulnerable, both flawed but still constant to their mutual connection – repeatedly tests our ideas of destiny as an immovable certainty or a more malleable game of chance.
The simple but cleverly constructed narrative lends poignancy to Lucy’s struggle to build a world with her husband and children without ever breaking free from the unbreakable bond with the man who first set her heart and mind on fire.
Don’t expect to draw breath until the last page has turned…
(HQ, hardback, £12.99)