Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen

Viola has become allergic to the sun.  Not just the sun, now Viola doesn't seem to be able to tolerate any light source at all.  Her entire world comes crashing down as she can no longer do anything she loves and must spend most of her time in her basement.  Most importantly, this new condition means she will have to rethink her entire future in which she had planned to be a journalist, starting with earning her college degree in Abu Dabi, possibly the sunniest place on Earth.   She is helped along in coping with all this by her devoted parents, dedicated friends, and Josh, a gorgeous boy she met on the same day she developed her condition.  But how can she have anything resembling a normal life and why would anyone want to be part of her life now?

I started off great guns but about halfway through I just wanted it to end.  I didn't feel like Chen gave me as much information as I wanted about what was happening or made things clear enough.  I'm not advocating for a more didactic writing style, but I needed a little more explanation of what each new development meant for Viola and what she would now be unable to do.  I also felt like there were several big realizations throughout the book.  The problem is, they were each the same realization.  Viola decides she's going to manage her illness herself and lead a normal life.  Then something happens, then she decides it again.  And the same for her relationship with Josh.  Plus the added fall back of "I have to break up with you because I love you so much".  Finally, for all of the slogging through her illness during the rest of the book, the ending felt too happy for me.  She has a new plan and that's great, but it's just not going to be that easy.  And Iceland in the summer is going to be one of the worst places for her to be.  Just sayin'.

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