cover image We Are the Light

We Are the Light

Matthew Quick. Avid Reader, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-6680-0542-2

A survivor of a mass shooting confronts his grief in this illuminating epistolary novel from Quick (The Silver Linings Playbook). In small-town Majestic, Penn., high school counselor Lucas Goodgame wrestles with the loss of his wife, Darcy, through a series of letters to his Jungian analyst, Karl Johnson. Darcy, along with Karl’s wife and 15 others, were murdered in a theater during a screening of a “classic Christmas movie.” (The allusion appears to be It’s a Wonderful Life—Lucas details how Darcy visits him every night as a winged angel.) When the shooter’s 18-year-old brother, Eli, starts camping out in Lucas’s back yard, Darcy’s angel assures him, “That boy is the way forward.” Lucas decides to mentor Eli, and with the help of the filmmaker-theater owners, the pair collaborate on a monster movie to help Eli work through his demons. The effort helps Lucas as much as it does Eli, giving Lucas the structure he’d been missing from the sessions with Karl, which stopped for reasons that only become clear later in the narrative. Quick adds credible details of moviemaking and dynamic secondary characters to a crackling narrative, which builds to an excruciatingly honest disclosure. The author’s fans will love this. (Nov.)