Shade Mountain Press
Ms. Hen found this book in The Little Free Library in Cambridge. She’s talked about that library before, so she won’t go into the details of it again. She usually takes books by authors she has read, or famous books that she knows she should read. She picked this up because she liked the cover and no other reason. She read the first paragraph of the novel, and she decided it was worth taking, especially since it was free.
Ms. Hen was immediately drawn into the story of the young woman, Veronica Gonzales, an aspiring artist trying to land her first solo show. The first scene, on the airplane, the energy crackles and Ms. Hen was hooked. When Veronica meets the art gallery owner, Ms. Hen loved the way she spoke.
Ms. Hen noticed that all the characters in this novel have distinct voices. One mark of a good writer is to make all her characters sound like they are individuals. Ms. Hen admires this skill.
In the first chapter, we also meet Leo, a young man who had been Veronica’s neighbor when she went to college. He also talks in a unique voice. His brother died in 911 and he is still grieving.
When Veronica gets home to Miami, she finds out she did land the solo show during Basel, Miami’s art festival. Bursting with excitement, she wants to tell her family, but her father is found in his apartment unconscious and taken to the hospital. Within days, her father passes away.
WHITE LIGHT is about an artist dealing with grieving her father while working on her first solo art show. Veronica had a complicated relationship with her father. To put it mildly, her father treated her like dirt. When she turned sixteen, she wanted a Volkswagen bus for a car, and her father gave her one. Her mother was angry because she thought it would break down. Veronica’s parents divorced when she was teenager. Her father took the Volkswagen bus away to punish her. He punished Veronica many times her whole life.
Ms. Hen wondered why Veronica would be so upset about her father’s death if he was always such a jerk. But that’s why she was upset. Because she wanted him to make amends to her, but he never got the chance. She wanted him to be proud of her, but she never gave him a good enough reason. The thing about mothers and fathers is that you only get one of each. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. Ms. Hen knows this.
This book is beautifully written. It’s a novel about complicated relationships and the desire to make art. There are pictures in the book by famous artists that inspire Veronica, and also colors and their descriptions and what each colors is used for and how it affects people. Ms. Hen liked reading about the colors.
There is one mention of a chicken in the novel, which Ms. Hen did not enjoy. Veronica is grocery shopping because she wants to cook for her boyfriend, which she never does, and she wants to buy meat, which she never eats. She talks to the woman at the grocery store, and tells her she doesn’t want to buy red met, and the woman says, “Chicken’s fresh.” And Veronica thinks “Chicken is boring.” Ms. Hen does not agree. Ms. Hen doesn’t think chicken is boring. But there are other things that Ms. Hen does not agree about with this character, so that does not surprise her.
Aside from the remark about chickens being boring, Ms. Hen thinks this is an amazing novel. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of work about an artist trying to create while dealing with grief, and pouring her grief into her work. Ms. Hen gives this novel five feathers up, and it helped her to see the world from a different perspective.