It’s been six years since we fell in love with Garth Stein, Enzo and THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN(HarperCollins). Now Garth is back with his first novel since Enzo basically took over the universe. I don’t know who should be more apprehensive approaching A SUDDEN LIGHT(Simon&Schuster) – we readers or Garth Stein. It must have taken enormous courage to face the computer to write a novel after creating such a wonderful being as Enzo, but I for one am very happy Garth did!
At first, A SUDDEN LIGHT reads like a simple story about a young 14-year old boy, Trevor Riddle doing his best to save his parent’s marriage. At the same time there’s family dysfunction, ghosts roaming around a mansion, people climbing trees and other nifty storylines. But I think that is all too obvious. I believe Garth Stein is attempting to do something more complex and special with A SUDDEN LIGHT.
I was very familiar with his work, having received an advance copy of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN back in 2006 and having the privilege to meet him several times on his tours to Miami. So when I heard he had a new book coming out, I was excited and willing to go in a new direction. Spirituality and Spiritualism are underlying themes throughout the novel. He’s not subtle, in fact the phrase, “touched by the face of God” is used twice. Stein goes to great lengths to make statements about conservation and the environment; reconciling the differences between what we see and what we know. While reading, I must admit, I was uncomfortable with the 14-year old protagonist being so cynical and self-righteous at his young age, especially when he quoted Kafka. While reading A SUDDEN LIGHT, I felt the narrative frequently was taken into dimensions of magical realism, which helped explain much of what I was reading.
My overall feeling about A SUDDEN LIGHT? I’m unsure of who the target audience is. I also question the editing of the novel. The storylines seemed to wander and the ending could have been stronger. A SUDDEN LIGHT offers a Garth Stein tale to be enjoyed by readers willing to put reality on the bookshelf. A SUDDEN LIGHT is available now. Be sure to get your copy!