Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Review : "We Are The Light" by Matthew Quick - Book Review and Discussion

Trying to decide what to read next? What did I think of Matthew Quick's newest novel? Keep reading to check out my review of "We Are The Light" by Matthew Quick.

We Are The Light
by Matthew Quick

goodreads / amazon / library

Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most importantly, themselves. 

Recommended for: readers who enjoy Fredrik Backman, stories about mental illness, and character-focused storylines. 

"We Are The Light" by Matthew Quick 

Book Review

Things That Worked

Heartbreaking Humor - I love Matthew Quick's use of dry humor mixed with a lot of heart in his characters. Quick loves to put his lovable quirky characters into highly uncommon circumstances. For example, his most well known book "Silver Lining's Playlist" features two people struggling with their mental health while training for a ballroom dancing competition. "We Are The Light" follows main character, Lucas Goodgame, as he grapples with PTSD while working on creating a movie with  the makeshift actors in his small town. Quick mixes heartfelt characters and personal stories with humor to create an incredibly impactful story. 

World Building That Creates Familiarity and Connection  - The setting of this novel is a small town named Majestic in Philadelphia. Matthew Quick did an amazing job establishing this imaginary location and making it seem incredibly real. Majestic definitely had a Stars Hallow-y vibe with it's quirky inhabitants and iconic locations. The importance of the town to the story also reminded me of "Beartown" by Fredrik Backman - a tragic event occurs and the town comes together to heal. The townspeople become their own main character which adds to the hope and investment you have in the characters and storyline.

That Ending, tho... - Have faith in the process of reading "We Are The Light"! I struggled with the voice of Lucas, the narrator, see comments below, but once I got used to the writing style the story really paid off! Tears were shed several times after the 70% mark. 

Film Adaptation, please - I would absolutely love to see a film adaptation of this novel. I think the format change from novel to film could work to correct the various things that I struggled with while reading the book. For example, the constant singular perspective and voice were a little tiring. *but* a movie would correct that as you would be able to see and hear other characters and their reactions.

Things I Struggled With

Love / hate relationship with the narrator - Early into reading "We Are The Light" you learn that the main character, Lucas Goodgame, recently lost his wife and now sees her as an angel. Lucas's wife visits him at night and sometimes throughout the day acting in part as his subconscious but also still very much as a partner who he is physically intimate with - which is heartbreaking but also after a while the repetitiveness of his interactions regarding the angel were frustrating. In addition, the main character's voice and choices are also grating. The entire story is told in letters from Lucas's perspective and they come off as incredibly childish and inappropriate. While some of this makes sense as you read the book, it ultimately did take away from my reading experience.

Difficult representation of mental illness - I do not know if this book accurately portrays mental illness, but the way it is portrayed at times felt a little too convenient. The main character was just ill enough to show how difficult the circumstances were and how deeply they were affecting him, but not enough that he was unable to go about his life in some other practical ways. Lucas is obviously experiencing a dangerous mental health crisis that in reality would likely be incredibly debilitating. However, in the book, he can function fairly well and frequently moves the plot forward. 

Constant singular perspective - this novel is epistolary as the main character writes letters to his psychoanalyst. I think "We Are The Light" would've benefitted from several more scenes where we got a peak into how the main character was actually doing in the eyes of his friends, other members of the town, etc. The moments in the novel where we saw the difference between Lucas's perception of reality and the actual truth were incredibly enlightening and also very touching! Those heartfelt stolen moments are so tricky and Matthew Quick did a beautiful job writing them. I think if more perspectives had been added to the story they'd give the context needed to appreciate the perspective of the singular narrator more.


  Many thanks to the publisher and author for providing me an early copy to review. As a "girl about library" where books are always free anyway, please know that all opinions expressed are my own.


Post a Comment

Thank you so much for commenting! If you are a blogger as well, please be sure to leave a link to your blog- I'd love to visit!