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Book of the Week: The Light Through the Leaves

The Light Through the Leaves, by Glendy Vanderah

Although a sweet story about redemption and second chances, I have mixed thoughts on The Light Through the Leaves as a whole. While I didn’t dislike it at all (I enjoyed it), I think I was expecting a little more complexity between the characters rather than a splitting of ways and then all is forgiven when they finally come back together.

Here’s the thing. The story began with the heartbreaking abduction of a baby, and was set up for some very rich conflict, emotion and unraveling. SPOILER ALERT: It ended with everyone getting back together and living harmoniously despite all the lies, deceit, betrayal, manipulation, brainwashing and severe trauma that all of these characters endured.

I don’t know how easily I could forgive a mother who walked out on me or embrace my newly returned daughter with clear brainwashing issues without first making her a therapy appointment.

There were just some plot points that I couldn’t relate to as a mom—like blaming myself so much that I abandoned my other two children and cut myself off from everyone that I loved. Then again, I have never faced the trauma of an abduction, so I’ll stop my judgment of what it must have been like for Ellis to take on that blame and be subjected to people pushing me into a life of drugs and addiction to “heal.” I did find a respect for her maturity by the end, so there was redemption (I wasn’t as easily satisfied with her cheating ex-husband’s redemption, however).

As for the abducted baby who grew up believing she was half human, half spirit, I could relate more to her being guided by her nurturing and her gullibility in believing the lies she was told by a mentally ill abductor…to a certain point. I feel like once she entered school, she would have found a little bit more balance being in the real world that made her question instead of blindly follow, but again, never been in that situation, so I’ll once again forgo further judgment.

I guess I just struggled with some plausibility…the story was interesting enough, but I wasn’t sure I was exactly buying it all.

However, I will say that I did love the sweet bonds that Raven formed with her childhood friends and love, and then how her return helped to heal the wounds of the family she left behind.

I did love the sister-brother connections that developed, and the love story aspect of the novel. As a side note, I think my favorite “part” was actually when Ellis hung on to the My Little Pony given to her as an anchor for her to stick to her sobriety. I loved the sentimentality of it. Adorable.

The book was definitely traumatic and heartbreaking at times, and grabbed your emotions for sure; I just would have liked to see more anger and conflict as they led to the same resolution. Still, I’m a sucker for happy endings, so when all is said and done, I like how it all neatly tied up at the end with no lingering questions.

To hear more about my thoughts on and how I connected to the characters of Ellis and Raven, check out my video book review, Find Yourself in a Character:

To learn more about this week’s author, Glendy Vanderah, you can find her here:

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