*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Light We Lost, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo was a book that kept surfacing in various places on the internet for me, so I decided to read it. It’s been a featured book for Reese’s Book Club and received rave reviews many places. I, personally, have decided not to “review” books here and offer a star rating and I think this book is a perfect example of why.
Jill Santopolo’s writing in The Light We Lost was superb. There were several lines that really made me stop and think. Often, I had to set the book down and walk away for a while to process the reactions it stirred in me. To me, this is a sign of great writing.
All of that said, this book seems to be very polarizing. You either love it or hate it. You can read the wide range of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Again, this is what I think makes a great book club book–one that gets you thinking and talking whether you love or hate the characters. It is a great example, though, of how people can experience books so differently based on their own life experiences, opinions, and values. The very reason I steer clear of rating books.
I hope your book club will consider featuring The Light We Lost if it hasn’t yet. It will definitely spur a good discussion. Below, I’ve provided your group with several book club questions and a recipe for The Light We Lost, so if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of The Light We Lost:
In the same day, Lucy witnesses the horrific events of September 11 and meets the love of her life. Gabe, though, already has a girlfriend. Still, they make a pact to create lives that mean something, that make a difference, that shine a light into the darkness. A year later, when their lives intersect, they begin a love affair that will span 13-years and several countries, always seeming just within reach of each other, always struggling between love and life purpose, until the day Gabe’s choices threaten to sever them apart forever forcing Lucy to make her final choice—love or purpose.
For The Light We Lost recipe:
After Lucy and Gabe fall in love and reunite, Gabe decides to go to the 9/11 memorial to photograph it, but Lucy cannot go. It’s at this moment, as Lucy is eating waffles that they begin to drift apart. The rest of the book, Lucy relates waffles to that moment of first separation and longs to return to they way they were before.
I decided to make waffles because they held such weight for Lucy. If you’re looking for food ideas for your book club, it would be fun to create a waffle bar with various toppings for your group to choose from. A few suggestions: crumbled bacon, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate morsels, nuts, etc.
You’ll have to excuse the way my waffles turned out. I was using a waffle maker that was literally older than me. Still, they were scrumptious.
“…I ate the last bite of waffle of my plate. Your mom had sent you a waffle maker, remember? She bought it on a whim when she found it on a clearance rack, and we’d made that pact to use it as much as possible. “
The Light We Lost Waffles
- Waffle Maker
- 2 Cups Flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 6 tbsp butter melted and cooled
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon maple flavoring optional
- Oil your waffle maker.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium size bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, maple (if usinand butter in a large bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
- Cook on medium-high on the waffle maker for 5-10 minutes until the edges are crisp but not overcooked.
*Maple flavoring adds a little kick. If you have it, use it. If not, it’s not essential to the recipe.
The Light We Lost Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- The novel starts on September 11 with the narrator expounding on the heightened sensory one has during a tragedy of such proportions. Where were you when you heard the news? What can you vividly recall? Did you make any life changing decisions, like Gabe did, because of that day?
- Do you think Gabe and Lucy would have formed such a strong bond if they hadn’t met on September 11? Why or why not?
- The author tells the story using a second person narrator (narrator is speaking to “you”). How did you feel about this unusual choice? Is this the first book you’ve read in second person? Name other titles that use second person if you are familiar with any.
- While they are still dating, Gabe asks Lucy, “Do we all get a finite amount of goodness in this world?…I worry that it’s impossible to have it all, for all parts of a life to be wonderful.” Lucy replies, “Maybe not everything all at once, but I think people can end their lives having gotten all that they wanted out of it.” What do you think? How do you think tragedy in Gabe’s early life affected his view? What has affected yours?
- When Lucy is struggling to commit to Darren, her friend Kate uses the analogy of different types of fire to explain types of love. There’s wildfire, bonfire, and hearth. Lucy decides that Gabe’s love is wildfire and Darren’s is hearth. Do you think that one is better than the other? Why? Take some time to discuss recent books read by the group and where those relationships fell on the spectrum. (i.e. Are Elizabeth and Darcy wildfire, bonfire, or hearth?)
- The novel spans across several important events in recent history. Lucy watches President Obama’s speech the night bin Laden is killed. She says she didn’t feel joy in his death, but she felt relief. “I felt whole, like his death complete a puzzle that had been left unfinished since 2001.” How did you feel when you found out the news? Do you think this event allowed Gabe to finally let go a little and begin his way back to Lucy, or do you think that came later?
- Who was rooting for Gabe and who was rooting for Darren? Why?
- Darren makes several large romantic gestures to Lucy that frustrate her. Each time she is perturbed that he leaves her out of the plans in a way that feels belittling. She even says that Gabe would never do such a thing. However, Gabe made negative, not positive, decisions and left her out of the equation, yet Lucy was able to forgive him and look past them in a way she couldn’t with Darren. Why do you think that is?
- Lucy fabricates Darren’s affair. Why do you think she does this? How do you think this solidified the theme in the book that we see what we want to see in people. In relationships, do you think that reality or feelings play a larger part?
- Were you satisfied with how the book ended? Discuss alternative endings that might have left you more or less satisfied.
Have you read The Light We Lost? What part did you love/hate? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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