In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner (ARC Review)

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 432
Release Date: August 10, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one, mention of substance abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence

Every time Jeff Zentner writes a book, he puts his whole heart in it. He manages to create beauty even in the saddest of moments and oh, sad moments there always are! Whatever he writes, it just touches your soul, your entire being and won’t let you go for a long time afterwards. So, it should come as no surprise that I keep seeking out his books despite the emotional punch they pack, because they fill me with such a complex set of emotions.

In the Wild Light introduces you to Cash and Delaney, although the story is told from Cash’s perspective. Neither of them had an easy life and even when good things finally start to happen, it’s hard for them to come to terms with the fact that they deserve this goodness. In an odd way, I found that entirely relatable. I may not have faced their particular struggles, but as I continued reading, I found more and more of my own scars represented in the story. As the cast grew, I started to fall in love with all of them and would be elated to meet any one of them (with one exemption) to welcome them as a friend into my life.

This book is for everyone who has ever lost a loved one. It’s for people who have had to leave others behind in order to grow, while still holding a heart full of love for them. It’s for those who doubt that they fit in, that they deserve the good things life offers them and that there are others looking out for them. It’s for people like me, who have left part of their heart and soul in different places around the globe, tying them to friends and family and places. In the Wild Light is for those always running hungry, only ever sated by words.
This book is a reminder of the ties we share with the family we are born into and the one we chose for ourselves, even those we were separated from. It shows the importance of having people in your life that actually care to help you realize your full potential and celebrate you as the person you are. And most of all, In the Wild Light is an ode to having the courage of seeing the beauty and light even in moments of darkness.

“You are not a creature of grief. You are not a congregation of wounds. You are not the sum of your losses. Your skin is not your scars. Your life is yours, and it can be new and wondrous. Remember that.”

In the end, In the Wild Light might be my most favorite by Jeff Zentner book to date. I cried, I laughed, I felt my heart warm at the lives of these incredible characters. I’m at an utter loss for words to describe just how much this book meant to me and how much I will cherish it moving forward. Even though I could have done without the romantic sub-plot, because I really believe this story didn’t need any romantic undertones, I can only recommend it to anyone who is willing to go on an emotional journey about loss and belonging, family by blood and the found kind alike. 

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I don’t give a 5-star-rating lightly anymore, but with this book the decision felt easy. It was so worth the read!


Have you read any other books by Zentner? Do you plan to? My reviews for The Serpent King and Goodbye Days are still available (just click on the titles).