Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Certain Slant of Light

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

The Plot: Helen panics when a boy notices her in school. It's been a while since someone has looked at her and truly seen her. Not since she's been dead. Helen is a ghost; and humans don't see ghosts. But this one sees her.

Helen discovers that it's another ghost who can see her; and that James has found a way to inhabit a human body, Billy. Helen has a second chance at living -- and at love -- if she, too, can find a body. Jenny seems not to care about life, so Helen slips in and becomes her.

The Good: James's and Helen's use of Billy's and Jenny's bodies is creepy; but there is a point. Billy and Jenny each have a different reason for not valuing the life they have, but it's so invasive to have someone come in and take over their lives. James and Helen deserve a second chance; but at what cost?

I cried at the end; there's the afterlife scene that is, I'm sure, part wish fulfillment. But I fell for it and cried.

Actually, there is a lot of wish fulfillment in this book, but it's so beautifully done: it's about soul mates, true romance, and love, that reaches past life and death. It's also about forgiveness, forgiving others and forgiving yourself. And it's about embracing the life you have.

When Helen becomes Jenny, she does not take on Jenny's memories; Jenny and her memories still exist (and may come back) so Helen is left on her own, feeling overwhelmed as she doesn't know who Jenny is. How is she supposed to act? What is she supposed to say? Her life experiences are not her own.

I loved Billy's older brother, Mitch, who is struggling to be a good person and do the right thin; but he has no guide or mentor so it's hard for him. James's second chance isn't what he thought it would be, because Billy had gotten into trouble and James has to face the consequences.

Spoilerific thoughts in the comments.

Author interview at


Liz B said...


I like that both Helen & James come to the deteriminatin that they must not only return the bodies but also that both work thru their original lives and deaths to the point where they can move forward; I loved the mystery of Helen's past and that she had created her own purgatory and held the keys to release.

But is Jenny pregnant? Because that would really suck for her.

Little Willow said...

I love this book. SO good.