Review: Where All Light Tends to Go

May 14, 2015 Appalachia, book review, David Joy, family, fiction, Putnam 1

Where All Light Tends to Go

  • Written By:  David Joy
  • Published By:  Putnam Books, March 3, 2015
  • Length:  260 pages
  • Source:  E galley via Edelweiss with permission from the publisher

Summary:  The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.  The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

My Thoughts: I read this book a couple of months ago, and yet the words and feeling that David Joy created in telling Jacob’s story stays with me.  Jacob’s world is small.  The town people all know who he is, who is father is, and what he does.  His mother is a sad meth addict.  She lives in a run down house, and Jacob hasn’t lived with her in years.  Reading about Jacob’s life was difficult, I have a teen son, his life is nothing like this young man’s.

After some disturbing events Jacob begins to imagine a different life, a life with Maggie, a life away from his past.  His journey to this new life is planned out, but not without risk and leaving a trail of broken promises.  Where All Light Tends to Go is a book that speaks to our youth, our hopes and dreams, where the reader understands Jacob.  It is a coming of age tale like none I’ve read before.  This books is gritty and brutal, but it is real in that it tells the story of people whose criminal and impoverished lives we’d prefer to hide. Beyond Breaking Bad no one is making TV shows about families who daddies run meth lab operations.  This America is the one David Joy so brilliantly writes about in this debut novel.  I couldn’t put it down.

Grab this book, just do it, you won’t be sorry.

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