Quaran-reads: “The Light We Lost”

April 7, 2020


Quarantine has given me the opportunity to start really hammering in on my reading goal. Finding myself in class less, I have little excuse now to sit down and fire a few books off my 50-book target. I would recommend this first book to anyone feeling without hope and powerless in the current situation. “The Light We Lost” by Jill Santopolo was a beautiful escape from reality.

After my New York City trip got cancelled, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and wanted to immerse myself in a book that nodded to the Big Apple. Hence why I initially selected “The Light We Lost” as my first quaran-read. This was an easy decision – much easier than the life-altering choice that Lucy, the book’s main character must make.

The setting of the book is New York City, the perfect place for a modern romance to unfold. That’s right, it’s a love story. The book’s narrator is Lucy, a woman whose life becomes time and time again entangled with Gabe, an unconventional creative with a (annoyingly) restless spirit. “The Light We Lost” is her story – their story – told from the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe are both seniors at Columbia University when the Twin Towers collapse. Star-crossed lovers, Gabe and Lucy’s sporadic thirteen-year long relationship is jumpstarted by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the event is a symbol of hope and healing throughout the book. In a world so suddenly shocked by death, Lucy and Gabe find love in each other.

After graduation, Lucy begins working for a children’s television show, quickly earning promotions and working her way up to be a top producer. Gabe, on the other hand, is questioning his life’s purpose, and propelled by a fear of becoming like his unsatisfied father, he takes a leap of faith that lands him in the Middle East as a photojournalist.

If there is one thing Lucy hates, it is surprises. Gabe’s decision to leave – leave behind New York, their Brooklyn apartment and her — took Lucy by complete surprise, and she never recovered from the loss.

Throughout the book, Lucy and Gabe’s lives pull them in different directions, each time increasing the distance between them. Though continents apart, Gabe was at the forefront of Lucy’s mind, influencing every dream and action, which ultimately led to one final choice.

“The Light We Lost” is deeply moving and sexy. When questions of fate and choice are presented, it makes for an engrossing conversation. Is there freedom in love, and does it matter? Gabe and Lucy want so desperately to matter, not just to the world, but to each other.

My only complaint is with the character of Gabe. I found myself a little put off by his inconsistencies. I found his behavior to be unrealistic at times. I understand it was the author’s intent to show the sometimes fickleness of love, but his character slipped into selfishness, which made it harder to understand Lucy’s forgiveness. But I guess true love is for giving and forgiving.

I cried. I laughed. I sat for two hours without moving because I could not put the book down. I felt myself being so swept up in this whirlwind romance, that I was no longer consumed with my disappointment of not being able to go to New York.

This book doesn’t have a place in my top ten, but it does hold a special place in my heart. I will remember it as being a book of comfort.

Why? Because life happens, and if there is anything I learned from “The Light We Lost” is one, I also don’t like surprises, and two, good things can come from the most unexpected situations.

Allow “The Light We Lost” to be one of the good things to happen to you while we all wrestle with the uncertainty of the present.