Jill Sonatopolo published the novel “The Light We Lost” in 2017. She wrote the novel as a letter, watching the story unfold through the eyes of one character showing the true power that love holds on everyone. Throughout the novel, there is a complete understanding of the sacrifices we make for love and our dreams.
The novel starts with Lucy in her senior year of college at Columbia University. She soon meets Gabe, also a senior at Columbia. They quickly fall in love, albeit with some reservation from Gabe. Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide that they want their lives to mean something, to matter. It seems fated that they will meet again a year later—perhaps they will find life’s meaning in each other. However, Gabe is assigned as a photo journalist to the Middle East, while Lucy pursues a career in New York.
Soon after, Lucy meets Darren, smart, funny, handsome, and a few years older than her, he seems to be able to make her happy again. Eventually, Lucy and Darren are married, have two children and generally have a very good life together. Throughout this time, Gabe shows up unpredictably, making Lucy uncertain with her feelings. She knows that she is in love with Gabe, but can’t leave her husband and two children. Lucy suspects Darren of cheating on her, so she sleep with Gabe, rekindling their love. Gabe asks Lucy to move him to Jerusalem, she refusing because of her husband and kids. Lucy later finds out that Darren didn’t cheat on her and feels guilty and ashamed. She discovers that she is pregnant and is overcome with guilt as she doesn’t know who the father is.
Lucy gets a letter stating that Gabe is injured in Gaza and is on life support, she has been given power of attorney to make the decision if Gabe should stay on life support. She decides to get a paternity test, finding out that the father of the unborn child is Gabe. Lucy finds Gabe’s last will and testament in which he leaves her ownership of his creative works and copyrights. Realizing that nothing will bring him back, Lucy makes the decision to take him off of life support, holding him in her arms as he dies.
In the final chapters, Lucy writes a letter to Gabe and Lucy’s unborn child, writing about Gabe, their love for him, and that if he ever finds love to hold onto it.
Although the ending is devastating, the book describes the aftermath of love, and really dives into the “wrong time right person” character development. Santopolo writes a beautiful character description, showing the emotional effects of one decision Gabe and Lucy made in college. Even through the end, with Gabe dying the portrayal of survivor’s guilt was written so beautiful through Lucy’s perspective. Her verbiage made me feel like I was walking right beside Lucy in New York with a front row seat to her life.
The novel really made me go through all staged of guilt with a smile on my face. Many parts of the book are so relatable that the reader can really put themselves in Lucy’s point of view and understand her emotions and the decisions she made. It’s definitely a book I’ll pick up in the future again, and I hope you do too!