I’ve waited a long time to celebrate this book — coming on Tuesday! Thank you for writing another important and heart-filled YA title, Jeff Zentner!
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Published by Crown Books for Young Readers.
Cash Pruitt is a hard-working 17-year-old from Sawyer, Tennessee who has a hard past. Now living with his grandparents, Cash mows lawns, attends Sawyer High School, and hangs out with his best friend, Delaney Doyle. The two share heartbreaks (Cash’s mom died of an opioid addiction and Delaney’s mom is headed down the same path) and adventures (traveling on the river and digging in caves). When Delaney’s adventures lead to an important medical discovery, Middleford Academy in Connecticut offers Delaney a scholarship to the prestigious private high school, but she won’t go unless Cash joins her.
How does a teenager pick up and leave the only home he’s ever known? Mamaw cannot possibly handle working night shifts and take care of Papaw all by herself. But new places and faces are an opportunity for Cash as much as for Delaney. When a teacher introduces poetry, Cash discovers that writing can bring home and family to whatever setting he happens to occupy at the time.
Packed with references to recognized settings, readers will relate to Cash and Delaney and their stories. The gorgeous language of Zentner’s storytelling, especially the details of scenes and scents, makes the reader stop and appreciate nature, especially the river and how it nourishes the soul. Cash learns to navigate life through his poetry, something he can use to reveal his love. Readers will love In the Wild Light and maybe even uncover their own passion for life — the feelings will grip and hold on for a long while. “Home is where the heart is” never had truer meaning.
Recommended for ages 13 and up.
5 Stars *****