|In the wild light|
Author: Zentner, Jeff
Attending an elite prep school in Connecticut on scholarship with his best friend (and secret love) science genius Delaney Doyle, sixteen-year-old Cash Pruitt, from a small town in East Tennessee, struggles with emotional pain and loss until his English teacher suggests writing poetry.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (06/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (00/08/21)
Booklist (+) (08/01/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 08/01/2021 *Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Cash’s best friend Delaney has—with Cash's help—made an astonishing scientific discovery that leads to her being offered a full scholarship to the tony Middleford prep school in Connecticut, a world away from their small East Tennessee town. Delaney accepts on the condition that Cash be offered a similar scholarship. The school agrees, but Cash has reservations, principally because he is reluctant to leave his beloved papaw, who is dying of emphysema. But Delaney is persuasive, and soon the two are off to Connecticut, where they at first feel as out of place as brown shoes with a tuxedo. Happily, though, they soon make friends: Korean American Alex and beautiful Vi, who is from Brazil. Cash falls in love with Vi, but when he reveals his feelings, she rejects him, explaining that he is in love with Delaney. Cash is thunderstruck, but is it possible that he actually might be? Zentner (Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee, 2019) has crafted a heartfelt and deeply moving love story with a well-realized prep school setting and wonderfully empathetic characters. The novel's prose is beautiful—the sky holds “gleaming soapsud clouds,” while freckles are “an atlas of stars”—though occasionally overwritten. But this is a small quibble about a book that readers will unhesitatingly take to their hearts. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2021 Gr 9 Up—Cash Pruitt loves the simple beauty of his rural Tennessee hometown, boating on the Pigeon River, and his grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw, who raised him after his mother died of an overdose. He also loves the complex mind of his best friend Delaney Doyle, a science genius whose boundless knowledge of the natural world fills him with wonder. Both children of an opioid-addicted parent, Delaney and Cash have a deep bond that is shaken for the first time when Delaney's scientific discovery catapults her to overnight fame. This discovery—a mold with powerful antibiotic properties, found with Cash in a riverfront cave—lands them both scholarships at prestigious Middleford Academy in New Canaan, Connecticut. Cash worries that Papaw, who has emphysema, will die while he is away at school, but accepts the scholarship at Papaw's urging. At Middleford, he is buoyed by a poetry class that shows him the power of language to reshape experiences of pain and fear into beauty. Lyrical and heartbreaking, this novel captures the wonder of ordinary moments with extraordinary tenderness. As in Zentner's earlier works, grief is a central theme explored in many forms, ranging from the trauma of Cash's mother's death to the anticipatory sense of loss Cash feels at leaving a sick family member to chase a dream that scares him. A rich sense of place runs through the novel. Cash and Delaney are white; supporting characters are Brazilian and Korean American. VERDICT A wise, gorgeous exploration of loss and survival that will make readers cry. A first purchase.—Elizabeth Giles, Kansas City P.L., MO - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.