I have also noticed several authors who books coming out soon. Thankfully, a few of those in ARC form were waiting for me when I got home.
However, one was not. To say that I am a huge Jeff Zentner fan is an understatement. I think he is a fantastic writer. His first novel, The Serpent King was one of Bick's Picks for 2017. (You can see them all at this link.) I love it when a debut novel is really good. More important is my estimation however is when the sophomore effort is a home run. Jeff's second book, The Goodbye Days was excellent and for my money under appreciated. It was my first pick for Bick's Picks in 2018, and it is in good company. (Again, you can see them all here.)
I also thought his follow up effort Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee was another hit. One of the interesting things about Jeff, in my opinion, is that he is unpredictable. Each book has carried a different tone and when you start reading, you are not quite sure what you are going to get, but you can be sure it will be worth the time.
I have been watching some of the buzz about his soon to arrive next book, In the Wild Light, and was disappointed that I hadn't scored an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC).
Fortunately, while I was traveling Susan Densmore-James, AKA, the Book Dealer sent me an unsolicited review of Jeff's newest. It is just below the images of his first three.
Jeff Zentner's In the Wild Light: A Review by Susan Densmore-James
When I was finally back in the right “head space” again, I could not wait to finish Zentner’s book. As I have expressed in previous Weekend Pick posts, I read to feel connected to others and to understand others’ lives of which I might not be exposed otherwise. I read to challenge my own thinking. And yes, this book checked all those boxes and actually added a positive outcome of reading I had never experienced before: I read to heal.
At the start of the novel, it is revealed that Cash has lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Cash spends his summers mowing lawns and his one friend, Delaney Doyle, works at the Dairy Queen. Luckily, these two found each other, as Delaney’s mother is in a downward spiral due to her drug use. The relationship between Cash and Delaney is heartwarming and real. It reminded me of the importance of friendship during the darkest of times, and as the reader, I felt the love and strong connection between these two teens.
Because of her dire circumstances with her mother, Delaney is determined to escape from Sawyer, and a scientific discovery (plus her incredible intellect and fiery redheaded spirit) gives her the opportunity of a full ride scholarship to an elite prep school in Connecticut. Because Delaney’s discovery is BIG (while with Cash on the Pigeon River, she discovers a mold that can eradicate bacteria), the prep school has agreed to allow her “assistant” Cash the opportunity to attend as well. Yet, Cash has the impossible decision of possibly leaving his grandparents, the two people who have stepped in to raise Cash after the loss of his mother or forego a free education at a prestigious school and lose Delaney, the one friend and person who understands him.
In the Wild Light is a must read when it is released this October. It hits the mark in all the ways that reading can be powerful and lifechanging. My connection to Cash and Delaney will always be a part of me. Additionally, I learned about the small-town living in an Appalachian town and was able to experience “seeing” the beauty in this part of our nation. I was reminded of the struggles of people outside of myself: the struggle of addiction and living in poverty are two reminders in this book that allowed me to have an understanding that I did not have before. The relationships of the characters that Zentner so masterfully creates in this book makes this my favorite of his, which is difficult to say since I love all his work, but for me, the best part of this book was that it brought me peace and healing during the most difficult time in my life—a gift I was not aware reading could deliver. I needed this book, and it arrived at just the right time. Thanks, Jeff Zentner!