By Matthew Quick
Published November 2022
Lucas Goodgame is a middle-aged guidance counselor in the small suburb of Majestic, Pennsylvania. Just before Christmas, he loses his wife Darcy in a tragedy that also claims the lives of sixteen other people. While Lucas is hailed a hero (he doesn’t believe it), he can’t grieve the same as everyone else because he has the advantage of having his angel wife visit him at night. When Eli, the brother of the killer, moves into Lucas’s backyard, Darcy urges Lucas to get involved, so he sets out to help the young man. In the process of reclaiming their own lives, Lucas and Eli set in motion a plan to help the entire town heal.
This is one of those novels that the cover caught my eye and I felt drawn to but for some reason put off reading. I’d look at it in the library, pass it by, come back to it, and finally I checked it out. Then, I nearly didn’t finish reading it.
The book is formatted as letters that Lucas writes to his Jungian psychotherapist, a man who was also impacted by the tragedy and closed his practice as a result. At first the letters are a plea for Karl to reopen his practice but soon they morph into a running commentary on Darcy’s visits, Lucas’s growing alienation with the other survivors, and the plan to bring healing through art to the community. At first, I wasn’t fond of the structure. Mainly because everything is told after the fact and it slowed the pacing to a crawl.
Then I got interested in what was going on in Lucas’s head. Was he really a witness to the divine or was he losing touch with reality? What actually happened? The hints grew as the story progressed, but the reader doesn’t know what transpired that fateful December until the end of the book – over three and half years after the fact. And you have to wade through a lot to get there. Most of the focus was on the mundane, with Lucas helping Eli with his project and his relationship with his wife’s best friend, Jill, who moved in after Darcy’s death, plus his relationship with several other townspeople.
The book is, obviously, heavy on Jungian analysis and you really have to like Lucas, since everything is filtered not only through his viewpoint, but you are literally reading his thoughts. I’ll admit, the ending left me a little lukewarm but I liked the voice, if not the structure.
If you like literary fiction or quiet stories, you’ll probably enjoy this. If a fast plot is more your pace, I can’t make any promises that it’ll hold your interest, despite being an emotional, empathetic story.
Final rating: 3.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
3 thoughts on “Book Review: We Are the Light”
NOT Freudian, but Jungian. If you read up on both of them, you learn they were quite different from each other in their views and even had a major falling out.
Whoops, thanks so much for catching that! This is what happens when I don’t write the review as soon as I finish the book.
No problem! I had just finished it so how Jungian it was was fresh in my mind. The author, Matthew Quick, is quite the aficionado of all things Jungian.