Genre: Contemporary YA Fiction
Kat and Emily have grown up without their mother for almost as long as they can remember. And now Dad is with Cassy and they all muddle along together well enough - even though they are living in a cramped caravan while their new house is being renovated. Then Cassy and Dad tell them that Cassy is pregnant, and everything seems to shift. Emily feels a new urge to find her own mother. How could she have left them the way she did? Never writing to them? Not communicating with them? And as Emily begins her search, not knowing what she will find, she is at the same time embarking on a new relationship of her own, that of her romance with Seb.
Drawing with Light is a novel about family and family relationships, in particular the relationship between a parent and a child, especially when one parent is missing. It is also a novel about growing up and finding yourself - and in order to find yourself, you have to go back to your roots, perhaps find your real mother who left you, even if it hurts.
Emily Woodman is a normal sixteen-year-old girl who finds herself in slightly extraordinary circumstances. Her father and stepmother Cassy, who has been with Emily and her older sister Kat for almost all their lives, have bought a house and while it is being renovated, the family is forced to live in a caravan in the middle of nowhere. Kat is able to avoid the situation by going to university, but Emily remains stuck in the caravan, with very little privacy and quiet for school work. The tension is high in the caravan precisely because there is no privacy, but the tension grows when an accidental comment from a teacher prompts Emily into thinking about her birth mother, Francesca, especially because Emily is a photographer just like her mother.
It is obvious that after fourteen years of absence, the wounds are still fresh. Emily, Kat and their father have not gone past the fact that their wife and mother left them for another man. Now that Emily wants to know why that happened and who Francesca really is - if she is still out there - the relationship between Emily and her father becomes very strained. When Cassy reveals she is pregnant, Emily feels that she will be abandoned once more, so she begins to search for her mother intensely. She is helped by a boy, Seb, who is the most special person in Emily's like and she can trust Seb, but hurt makes Emily angry and things are not easy for her and Seb, either.
This novel is a very realistic depiction of family life after one parent leaves. The other parent is left with all the burden, problems and pain that such an act entails and there are wounds that may never heal. It is especially difficult for children and Green shows that really well. It is not easy to move on and there is also this question: can the person who left ever be forgiven? Do they deserve it if they are truly sorry? It is a difficult question, but Green offers a great reply. Nothing is definite, but it is important to grow and be faithful to yourself. In the novel, it is also shown that it is important for people to know who they are and for that, it is crucial that they know where they come from - who their parents are. It may not seem so, but it is important to know how we are similar to and different from our parents.
I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Emily and Seb. They are two lost people who found each other. Emily is lost because she does not know who her mother really is and the feeling of abandoned can be a nagging one. Seb is a very smart boy, but he does not have a purpose in life and struggles with that. Emily and Seb help each other find what they are looking for and the process of their growing relationship, as well as of their healing, is quite beautiful to read.
Photography is important in this novel and while I do not know much about this form of art, it is given great attention and is very vivid in the story. The way Emily sees the world through the lenses of a camera is very exquisite. It is apparent that Emily is both an artist, but she also finds comfort in photography. Photography is also her one true link to her mother, which makes it all the more special and important in the novel.
This is a realistic story about the ups and downs of growing up and being a child with only one parent; not because one parent died, but because they left. I truly enjoyed the family dynamic and the story, narrated from Emily's point of view, is very intense because Emily's emotions are very intense. She feels everything strongly and sometimes, she goes into extremes, but that is part of growing up, too.
This story should appeal to all teens, but I think it should be read by adults as well. Sometimes, adults may underestimate a child's emotions in difficult situations, but the key to surviving family crises is to simply stick together.
Becky says: Lovely review Irena. I wish I had read this after my parents separated. I think it would have helped me deal with the emotional challenges. I'm also reading intrigued about the photography aspect that sounds such an interesting way to develop a character. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Both our thanks go to Bloomsbury Books for sending the book for review.