Gives Light is a like a long walk in the woods. It's not an overly tense, angsty, or action-packed book. It's a quiet, thoughtful, and meaningful coming-of-age story with a sweet YA-level romance between two teens, the son of a murder victim and the son of the murderer.
The story is told by sixteen-year old Skylar, whose throat was cut when he was five by the same man who killed his mother. Skylar survived, but lost his voice. After the attack, his father packed him up and they left the Shoshone Indian reservation where they had lived all his life. Eleven years later, Skylar's dad goes missing, and he's returned to the reservation to live with a grandmother he does not remember, and a culture that now seems alien.
But even with the worries about his missing father, Skylar is an upbeat presence, and he takes in his new home with his usual curiosity and easy, accepting nature. And soon, he makes friends, learns more about his Shoshone background, and is drawn to a moody, passionate young man, a young man who shares a similar face to one he remembers from a dark night so long ago.
Gives Light might sound dark and angsty, but it's not. The murders in the past are kind of heavy in the background, but the real story is about the survivors of those events, how they grieve, move on, accept, forgive, or honor, and about two people finding a much deeper connection of trust and love. It's also a story about Skylar's own personal growth and acceptance of himself, including the vicious scars that lance across his neck.
There are threads of tension throughout--the mystery around Skylar's dad, the uneasiness over the sudden appearance of the FBI on the reservation, Skylar's worries about being removed from his new home, and his confusion over his growing feelings for Raphael. But like the rest of the story, these threads are tied up calmly and quietly, and very meaningfully.
It was very good story, and would sit well on any YA LGBT shelf. (No sex--just the safe lovey, kissy stuff.) The growing love story within is very sweet and romantic, and is that kind where you find a lot of satisfaction from just a squeeze of a hand or a kiss on the palm.
If you're up for a quiet, thoughtful read, and are fine with something more YA, than I would recommend this book. It's self-published, and there were a few editing errors, but nothing that I couldn't easily overlook. Overall, I thought the writing was very good, and I liked seeing the world through Skylar's POV; he's often very adept at reading others, even if he's sometimes challenged with communicating with them. This is the first book in a four-part series, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking out the next one.
As an extra bonus, the full 300+ page novel was $3 for the ebook, which I thought was a good deal for such a nice read.