Review: Gives Light by Rose Christo

Gives LightRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

When Skylar St. Clair was five years old, a serial killer slaughtered his mother and robbed Sky of his voice. He has lived with his father ever since, away from the reservation and the memories it holds. But now his father is missing and Sky is sent back to the reservation to live with a grandmother he doesn’t know and a way of life he barely remembers. Yet Sky adapts well and soon the reservation begins to feel like home.

Rafael Gives Light remembers his father. He was a good man until the day he became a killer. Now Rafael lives in the shadow of his father’s crimes and yet another of the man’s victims has returned to the reservation. Rafael expects Sky to hate him. Instead the two form a unique bond over what they’ve lost and what remains. Their friendship and eventual romance is unexpected, but far from unpleasant and when Sky’s father returns with dark news, Sky and Rafael will need one another to weather the oncoming storm.

challenge month 2017 copyRose Christo is a favorite author of mine and a perfect fit our Self Published Book Week at Joyfully Jay. Christo writes a great deal about Native American culture, both past and present, and she doesn’t pull any punches. Her non-indigenous readers in particular are often forced to confront and acknowledge the painful realities of our shared history. This is one of the reasons I love her work and recommend it to anyone who isn’t afraid of books that challenge readers.

Gives Light is the first book I read by this author and the first in a series by the same name. The story involves Sky’s reorientation to reservation life and the healing process he goes through to recover from his mother’s murder. Sky cannot speak. The man who killed his mother also slit Sky’s throat so in many ways he finds him disconnected from the world, at least until he returns to his childhood home. Here he seems to fit, despite his white skin and blond hair. He is cheerful, nurturing, and beautiful in his understanding of others and their needs. He knows pain, but he does not dwell in it and while he occasionally seems naive, he is far from childish. Rafael is darker and seems isolated from others on the reservation. Not only is he a murderer’s child, he struggles with his own pain and the fear he will someday become a monster like his father. The relationship between these two is sweet and soft and elegant. They simply fit and there is never any doubt they belong together.

There is an extensive cast of secondary characters all of whom play integral parts to the story of Sky and Raphael. They are well defined and their stories become as captivating as that of our main players. Gives Light has some angst, but is easily the lightest (no pun intended) of the series, which begins to delve into some truly disturbing issues as it moves forward. The writing of Gives Light is slightly stiff and more uneven than Christo’s other works, but this a minor issue and you likely won’t notice it if you haven’t read her other books. Technically this book is YA and Skylar is only 16. I think it’s an excellent book for young adults, but it’s extremely accessible to adults as well and never feels childish or watered down.

There isn’t much more I can say about Rose Christo’s work and Gives Light in particular. The relationship between Sky and Rafael is both warmly romantic and grounded in a brutal reality. The result is a wonderful story that leaves readers not only satisfied, but educated and reminded about another way of life.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of seven fabulous prize packs from an amazing group of self published authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self Published Book Week here, including a list of all the prizes being offered this week. And check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes offered this month!

sue sig



  1. Thank you for your review. I don’t think I will read this book, too dark and painful. Would it be possible during Self Published Week to address the issue of poorly edited books. Some great stories are ruined by poor or no editing, improper word usage, misspelled words, words missing, phrases in wrong order. It’s jarring to come across these issues, they break the mood and enjoyment of what could be a great story.

    • Yes, I totally agree with you Sofia. I find myself often frustrated by authors who think self publishing means that they can skimp on editing, covers, formatting, etc. It just means you are responsible for hiring professionals to do these things, instead of a publisher doing it. Not that you can just skip them. I am picky when we choose self published books to stick with authors I know and trust, or to choose books where I have an indication they have hired a professional editor. I totally agree with your frustration here!

  2. Thanks for spotlighting a completely new-to-me author. I’m particularly interested in books with native characters or mythology, as I have native heritage myself. The darkness of the book might prevent me from getting it, but I’ll definitely check it out.

    • Don’t let the darkness of it scare you away! The title is Gives Light and its quite true. There is a life affirming joy here and hope despite the pain.

  3. Thank you for introducing me to a new author. This sounds intriguing.

  4. Bronwyn Heeley says:

    Sounds interesting. I like the idea of learning other cultures and we never have as big an opotuinity as we should in books. 

  5. Thanks for your review. I’ve had this in my TBR for a very long time. I’ll have to dust it off & read it soon!

  6. Thanks for your review, Sue; Gives Light sounds fascinating. I haven’t read many books that are set on a reservation so this book would likely prove enlightening (no pun intended!).

  7. I started reading this book a little over 3 years ago, but stopped at about 62%. I either got interrupted, or maybe took a break to read something fluffy and never made my way back to it. I have the second one too. I should get back to them sometime soon. Thanks for the review.

  8. This books it’s been forever on my tbr list. I don’t even know how os possible that I haven’t read it yet.

  9. It’s been a while since I”ve read a book by Rose Christo. Thank you for the review. It sounds like a fantastic read. I’ve added it to my wishlist.

  10. I love seeing you shine a light (I avoided the title word play I could’ve done there!) on Rose Christo’s writing again. I thought it was you who’d written the review of The Place Where They Cried which is a favorite of mine, but I checked just to make sure. It’s great whenever RC’s work gets recognition. I haven’t read this series yet, but it’s definitely one on my list. 

  11. I must recognise this has been in my TBR list for a while, but I have not dare to read it yet because I thought it was going to be full of anguish… And I’m not in the mood for anguish right now… But after reading your review, I shall give it a try. Thank you, Sue

  12. I read this back in 2014 and I loved it so … I gave it 4.5* too. One of my most satisfying reads that year. My review is too long to copy here … so if you’re interested, Jay and Sue, my thoughts on this book is right here:

  13. I’m interested but the length of the total series is overwhelming. Is it worth picking it up if I may only have the time to read the first book?

  14. This might be too intense for me, but it looks compelling…

  15. Thank you for your review, i have not read many books about Native American culture so i’m intrigued. But i must admit that i’m hestitant because of the fact that i see that there are six books in this serie with a seventh in the making? I think i will put this one on my “maybe when i have more time” list 😉

  16. I’m super interested in this one – especially since it was revealed that she wrote My Immortal!

  17. Purple Reader says:

    Thanks for the good review, Sue, and for bringing this book to my attention. As part of my liking both historical and contemp westerns, I too am drawn to stories of Native Americans. I like the ironic title and name, how can something titled Gives Light be dark? Well, I’m all for a dose of RW in my sometimes too sugary m/m romance world.

  18. I have this book on my wishlist for a very long time now. I have to make time to read it eventually.

  19. The book sounds interesting but not my first choice, however I added it to my tbr list. Thanks for the review.

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