Title: Gives Light (Books One through Four)
Author: Rose Cristo
Pages/Word Count: 285 Pages
At a Glance: Some of the best YA I’ve read in the genre
Blurb: “Skylar is my name, tragically.”
Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.
When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.
Review: It’s going to be difficult to sum up my feelings on these books. Part of me wants to be all fangirly and crazy…GIVES LIGHT IS AMAAAAAAAAAZING!!! And part of me wants to be more serious…Gives Light is an important piece of literature that is at once a beautiful coming-of-age love story, and also an extremely thoughtful book dealing with several pressing Native American issues. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a balance between the two. 😉
The series, initially meant to be a trilogy, I believe, now contains six books. I’m mainly going to be discussing the first book, Gives Light, but will touch on the other two in the original trilogy, Looks Over and St. Clair, and then briefly on the fourth book, Why the Star Stands Still.
I’m gonna say it again – Gives Light is amazing. I was immediately taken with our hero, sixteen-year-old Skylar St. Clair. In Skylar, Rose Christo has created one of the most positive, loveable, funny, down-to-earth characters I have ever read. Sky’s attitude, wit, and zest for life are unparalleled, especially for someone who has had to overcome so much adversity, perhaps worst of all being the fact that he is mute. He runs at everything head-on, and won’t be brought down. I love him. Plain and simple.
The first book deals with the mystery surrounding Sky’s missing father, his reintroduction to his Granny, who he hasn’t seen in eleven years (since his mother’s death on the reservation), and learning about the ways of his people, the Shoshone. He makes some wonderful friends along the way, including the most unlikely friend of all, the son of the man who killed his mother and took away his voice. Rafael Gives Light.
Rafael and Skylar are perfect together. Their friendship is so easygoing, so natural. Sky has never felt truly comfortable or like himself around anyone but his dad – until Rafael. Rafael knows what Skylar is thinking without him having to work to explain, and he gets Sky in a way that no one else does. Personality-wise, though, they are veritable opposites. Rafael is as brooding and sharp-edged as Skylar is positive and relaxed. One perfectly complimenting the other…the darkness and the light.
Throughout the story, Rafael and Sky support each other, protect each other, and learn what it means to be gay and to be falling in love for the first time. Their love story is beyond beautifully written. One constant through all of the books is how pure and true their connection and love for each other are, and how perfectly their interactions are written. Whether it’s a swoony love scene, or an argument, or some bit of witty banter – because God, are they funny – Rose Christo nails it.
Gives Light is also a fascinating history lesson. Another constant throughout the series is the amount of knowledge the author imparts. From the laws and the history behind them, to the rich culture and customs of not only the Shoshone, but other plains tribes, she paints an incredibly vivid picture. I can see the Nettlebush reservation so clearly in my head. The grotto where Sky, Rafael, Annie, Aubrey, and Zeke hang out, the badlands, the firepit where the nightly dinners take place…they are all perfectly etched in my mind. The imagery in this series is unforgettable.
The next two books, Looks Over and St. Clair, continue on with the trials and tribulations of the tribe, as well as the maturing relationship between Sky and Rafael. The storyline with Sky’s dad moves to the front burner, and we see the kids moving into their final year of high school. The angst also ramps up as the story moves along, especially in St. Clair. And I found the fourth book, Why the Star Stands Still, to be fairly dark overall, though it was nice to see Sky and Rafael all grown up.
There are so many fabulous moments in these books, too many to count. I definitely got good use out of my Kindle’s highlighter! I can’t recommend this series enough. Some of the best YA I’ve read in the genre. These books, and these characters, are going to stay with me for a long time.
You can buy Gives Light, Looks Over, St. Clair, and Why the Star Stands Still via the following links: