Evoking the kinetic energy of We the Animals and the hardscrabble milieu of Hillbilly Elegy, SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT (Hanover Square Press; April 9, 2019; $25.99) is a stunningly original debut novel that establishes its writer Dave Patterson as a distinctive voice in contemporary fiction. This riveting read provides a searing look at a besieged family, whose struggles with poverty and illness drive them deeper into their rigid Catholicism. Drawn from the author’s formative experiences, the profound coming-of-age tale moves propulsively through a dark landscape with unerring vision and exceptional skill. SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT unfolds through the eyes of twelve-year-old altar boy who lives with his parents and older brother in an impoverished Vermont town. Against the odds, they have at last achieved upward mobility, leaving the trailer park behind and settling into a house of their own. The unnamed narrator’s father works at a weapons manufacturing plant, where business is on an upswing thanks to the outbreak of the Gulf War. Then his mother’s cancer diagnosis implodes their world. Her chemo treatments are debilitating physically and financially. In the face of disaster, these Catholic hardliners become even more devout. They protest outside abortion clinics with increasing zeal, feed the less fortunate hot meals as they subsist on a diet of cheap frozen foods, and cling fiercely to the healing power of prayer. Overcome by complicated emotions he cannot process, the narrator vacillates between acting out and towing the line. He smokes weed with his rebellious brother, runs wild in the woods, forges a meaningful connection with a beguiling but troubled girl, and succumbs to what have been deemed wicked impulses. When guilt consumes him, he repents for his transgressions with acts of self-flagellation and filial obedience. But his mother’s deterioration and his father’s layoff accelerate a devastating downward spiral. As the family desperately tries to stay afloat, clearly things will never be the same. In the midst of this chaos, with the life he has known upended, the narrator contends not only with the loss of innocence but with other more shattering losses too. His attempts to navigate his altered circumstances ultimately lead him to question the religion he has always taken for granted and to contemplate the possibility of a future without it. Depicting an adolescent thrust down a path of self-discovery, a community plunged into stark decline, and a family pushed to the brink, SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT speaks eloquently to matters of love, faith, heartbreak, courage, and grief. As he explores one momentous summer marked by cataclysmic uncertainty, Dave Patterson makes a remarkably assured debut that will resonate long after the final page.
Thank you Hanover Square Press for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I rate this book a 3 out of 5 Stars.
This as a great coming of age story about two brothers and the trials and tribulations they face. Mom has cancer, and there is drama amongst the family, so the boys practically raise themselves. There is A LOT more to this book, and a lot of side stories and other aspects to it, but I do not want my review to become to convoluted. I hadn’t heard of this book prior to it being sent to me by the publisher. Love finding hidden gems.
If family dramas/tragedies are your kind of book, than this will be a must read, and it is rather short too. This was my first Dave Patterson book, and I really enjoyed it. I typically don’t read books with a religious base to them, but this one wasn’t too bad.