The Perfect Christmas Read - What Light by Jay Asher

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Probably two of my favourite things are reading and Christmas, so joining the two is the perfect combination. When I first heard about Jay Asher's newest novel, What Light, and how it's set around Christmas, I could tell that it'd be a favourite of mine. This upbeat, lighthearted story is filled with friends, family and festivities that make it a perfect read for the holiday season.

Plot Overview

"Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's an idyllic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love."

The Characters

I found that all of the characters in What Light were realistic depictions of teens, particularly the main characters, Sierra and Caleb. I really liked the dynamic between them and, although it was quite instant, they had some similar qualities that really made for some adorable and funny moments. The side characters weren't in the way too much but enhanced the storyline in a positive way, all of them being incredibly supportive and good role models, which are definitely desired characteristics.

Sierra is the epitome of an almost-perfect character, but in this context I really liked it. To be honest, constantly reading books where the main character is unrealistically unique and drastically flawed gets quite repetitive, and I wanted something more upbeat and lighthearted, particularly from a Christmas book. Sierra is smart, quirky and a genuinely caring person, making the audience instantly connect with her. She seems to be very intuitive and moral, making her an enjoyable central character to read about and I honestly wanted everything to work out in her favour by the end, simply because she deserves it.

Caleb seems like a kindhearted, charitable character on the surface, but also has a troubled past that he has to deal with. We get a lot of depth and dimensions from him, seeing different motives and aspects of his personality as the plot progresses - a great sign that his character is well-developed. I'll let you decide on where you stand with him and whether you'd forgive Caleb for what happened or not, but either way, I found that his character was a nice addition to the story and definitely added more drama than Andrew and Devon.

The Setting

I was instantly overjoyed when I found out that this book was set around Christmas, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that it was set on a Christmas tree farm. Although it may seem kind of cheesy for some readers, I found this to be a very magical setting that ensured the novel felt festive throughout. It's also unique, as I'd never before seen a book with a setting comparable to this one, and I was definitely jealous of Sierra living in a constant Christmas environment!

What I Liked

I'm a huge lover of Christmas and therefore I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of the festive elements that were incorporated. Christmas trees, peppermint mochas, reindeer cookies - you name it and it was included. The entire novel had a really cheery, upbeat atmosphere and the Christmas spirit that was maintained throughout definitely added to this. It had a Hallmark movie feel to it, making it super fun and straight to the point, meaning we could really revel in the festivities. It may be quite a light read but sometimes that's the type of story that I'm in the mood for, especially when it's Christmas and I want something enjoyable and not too heavy.

What I'd Change

Like I said earlier, this novel is a very quick read, so if that's not what you're looking for then this book may not be for you. I'd personally like it to be slightly longer - maybe 100 pages or so - just so the characters and settings could really be developed further. I also found that there wasn't much drama or intense moments in the plot, aside from a few twists here and there, which may bug some readers if you're expecting a huge reveal, but it's also nice to have a more laidback feel from a festive book.


Aside from the prevalent Christmas theme throughout, this novel has a lot of romance elements, particularly that of insta-love. I know that this is a love-hate trope, but regardless of your opinion, it's nice to see both character's happiness and compatibility, especially at this time of year. Some more serious themes are also discussed in What Light, despite it being a Christmas book. Rumours are heavily emphasised, alongside second chances and judging people, all of which are regular occurrences in our daily lives. This definitely added a truthful, believable sense to the story and added a more serious undertone, proving that Christmas isn't always filled with constant cheer.

The Writing

I'd never read a book by Jay Asher before, despite hearing many people praise his previous book Thirteen Reasons Why, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the writing style. It's informal yet upbeat tone really kept me engrossed while reading and perfectly created the voice of the teenagers. Although I'm a huge fan of thorough descriptions with latinate vocabulary, the lack of this created more realism and sense within the novel, which I surprisingly enjoyed. Also, from a lighthearted Christmas novel that's tailored to be an easy read, the last thing you want is writing that's difficult to understand.

Overall Opinion

Overall, this book was the perfect addition to my holiday reading list and I'd definitely recommend everyone to read it during the festive season. It was filled with heartfelt and funny moments that made it an enjoyable read from cover to cover, and I was definitely smiling throughout. If you're lacking in Christmas spirit this year or want to feel super festive, all it takes is a few pages of this book, so I'd definitely urge you to read it.

Thank you for reading this review and I'd also like to thank Pan Macmillan for sending me this book to read, as I really enjoyed it. I hope you liked this post and I'll be back next week with another one, although I'll be posting it on Saturday instead of Sunday as it's Christmas. Have a nice week and I'll see you then!

Love from Daisy x


  1. From the plot I really like the sound of this book, and I love that its set at the time of year we are at now, makes it more relatable! x


    1. I love Christmas books - they're the perfect way to get into the festive spirit! x