Monday, December 03, 2018

The Light Between Worlds

The Light Between Worlds. Laura E. Weymouth. 2018. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: We're burying Old Nick in the back garden. It's just Jamie and me, and it's raining, and I know he's worried because of the way he stands, head bowed, shoulders tense.

Premise/plot: During the war--the second world war--three British children are transported magically to another world--the Woodlands. Philippa, Evelyn, and Jamie react to this adventure in very different ways. Philippa is uncomfortable, out of sorts. She'd go home instantly if she could. Jamie is up for an adventure, but once he's had it he'll happily return to reality. Evelyn is all in from the start. The Woodlands are HER FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER home. She never wants to go back. This instant bond is unsettling for her brother and sister. Sooner or later, the three will return--return to the exact moment they left, return to being in a London bomb shelter, return to their parents.

The book is set six years AFTER this adventure takes place. Evelyn has had six years to adjust to being back, six long years to reconnect with her life. But she hasn't. She still persists that this world, this reality, is not her home, is not where she belongs. Evelyn is desperate to return to the Woodlands--and she'll never give up trying to get back no matter what this means to her family and friends.

The first half is told from Evelyn's point of view. The second half is told from Philippa's point of view.

My thoughts: I wanted to love The Light Between Worlds. I honestly did. I wanted to be swept up in the fantasy adventure and fall in love with The Woodlands--fall just as hard as Evelyn. I wanted to understand WHY the Woodlands had such a huge hold over her. But I didn't. Perhaps because the Woodlands scenes are a series of flashbacks. Perhaps because instead of experiencing the Woodlands, it's brief flashes of telling--not showing. Perhaps because none of the Woodlands characters are ever really fleshed out. Perhaps because in comparison between this world and that--all of the characterization is spent on this world. Imagining the awesomeness of The Woodlands has been left completely up to the reader--in my opinion. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't make myself build The Woodlands into this awesome, wonderful, inspiring place.

I thought the book was sad. Evelyn was severely depressed, suicidal even. Her depression seemed to follow seasons. Were readers supposed to conclude that all of Evelyn's mental health issues were really not mental health issues just her heart longing to return to the place she called home? Were we supposed to be at peace with Evelyn's self-abuse and melancholy? I know that Philippa was worried--concerned--that her sister might be placed in a mental institution if anyone knew her true state of mind. And since the book was set then--and not now--that would have been its own tragedy of sorts. Either ending--Evelyn staying or Evelyn going--would be tragic and devastating.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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