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This Raging Light

High school senior Lucille Bennett mothers her nine-year-old sister, Wren, because she has no choice--her parents are AWOL. Her mom "needed a break from everything," and said she'd be back in two weeks, but it's Day 14 and there's no sign of her. And, as readers learn in bits and pieces, Lucille's too-cool rock 'n' roll father was checked into a mental facility after choking her mother; she doesn't even know if he's still in New Jersey. To complicate things further, Lucille has fallen "desperately, never-to-recover, twisted-up sick" in love with her best friend Eden's handsome, sonnet-worthy, taken twin brother, Digby, a boy she's known since she was seven but who lately makes "a fumbling moronic moron out of me, a full-on half-wit." More awkward still, it's increasingly difficult to hide the fact that she and her little sister are living on their own as the days turn into months.

Lucille's fresh, first-person voice spills over with metaphor, poetically capturing her emotional landscape with force and fury, frantic love and absolute exhaustion. Lucille needs to keep it together for Wren, and represses her emotions to such a degree that they occasionally erupt in the wild colors of her paintings, in her passion for Digby and in angry outbursts that only serve to alienate the ones she loves. Debut author Estelle Laure's This Raging Light starts with abandonment but ends with people caring for people, and the voice is tough and tender in equal measure. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness