Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Review by Lauren
source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.
When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.
Review: Damn, this book was beautiful. This is the first book I’ve read by Kelly Loy Gilbert but it most certainly will not be the last. Books like Picture Us in the Light is the reason that some of my most favorite books are YA contemporaries. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and every single one is richly deserved.
I love that this book is full of diverse characters. It follows artist Danny Cheng who loves his family and his friends, but he’s also very much excited to move away to college and become better at his craft. It’s his senior year of high school, but secrets are slowly being unraveled. The biggest plot point involves the secrets that Danny’s parents are obviously hiding. Danny doesn’t always treat them nicely, but at the same time, it’s realistic. It makes sense for him to be upset when he doesn’t know the full story. However, I also loved that we’re in Danny’s head, so we can see that while he might be mad or do/say things he shouldn’t, he realizes this and he does feel guilty about some of his reactions. Danny felt like a real person. He wasn’t perfect, but he’s also a good person overall.Picture Us In the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert is one of my new favorite books - just beautifully written. #bookbloggers Click To Tweet
The secondary characters were just as wonderfully rendered. You really get to know everyone, including Danny’s parents who are desperately trying their best, to Danny’s best friends Harry and Regina. It’s obvious as the book goes on that Danny has feelings for Harry. I don’t think the word gay is ever mentioned though; it’s just something that Danny feels, and I kind of loved that. There was so much turmoil in Danny’s life already, that it was nice that his feelings for Harry weren’t something he was worried about – apart from Harry and Regina dating and Danny wondering if they are even happy together; apart from Harry being Danny’s best friend and he doesn’t want to lose that.
Throughout the book, there is another story shared here and there that is hard to explain without giving away spoilers, but it will make sense when you read the book. I thought this was a fantastic addition that really helped explain some aspects of the book. Honestly, this book is just such a great novel. Forget that it’s technically YA, if you worry about that kind of thing, and just read the book. Please. I think many of you will fall in love.