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.
Rose 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!