In The Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Cash is from small town Sawyer, Tennessee. He lives with his Meemaw and Papaw after his mother died from an opioid addiction. As if that wasn’t a tough enough hand to dealt, his Papaw is now struggling with emphysema. Although he’s been told emphysema isn’t a terminal condition, everybody knows his Papaw hasn’t got long.

Cash’s best friend Delaney loves his Papaw almost as much as he does; although her Mom is still alive she is also an addict and doesn’t provide any nurturing for Delaney. She is literally a genius and is determined that she will find a cure for Pep’s (what she calls Papaw) condition. In the meantime, she just happened to discover a new strain of penicillin when out canoeing with Cash. With the spotlight on Delaney and her brilliance, she is offered a scholarship to attend an elite school out of state in Connecticut. She also manages to wangle an additional scholarship for Cash. Although he doesn’t want to leave his Papaw, Cash is convinced to leave Sawyer and make something of himself.

The pair board a greyhound for a 20+ hour journey leaving their home state for the first time. However, the journey isn’t just a physical journey but completely life changing. The pair meet some amazing new friends and role models and discover life outside of Sawyer. Delaney spends hours in the science lab whilst Cash discovers a love for poetry. Unfortunately, reality at home is waiting for them too though.

I’ve never read a book by Zentner but when this one became available on NetGalley it sounded right up my street. For the first few chapters I was a little underwhelmed if I’m honest. The writing style is very descriptive and I prepared myself for a real trawl. However, I absolutely adored this book. I came to appreciate the more mature writing and acknowledged an appreciation of the almost poetic descriptions which fit Cash’s character. It felt raw and real. It definitely wasn’t a fairytale of a story but also shone some hope on the tough lives that so many people endure.

I would absolutely 100% recommend for you to go out and buy this book! It got 5/5 from me!

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