Mike Welles thought his life was pretty great. He did well in school, he played on the school baseball team. He and his best friend Tamio have a great time talking about stop motion animation and watching old movies.
Everything was fine.
That was before things started going wrong at home. Mike’s parents started to act strangely. Especially his mom. And his dad is just gone for huge chunks of time.
Mike thinks he can still handle all of the changes–even talking to a beautiful new girl at school–but it just keeps getting worse. He’s out of shape. He’s losing control. It’s all just so wrong.
Mike keeps hearing a voice that wants to help him. The voice says that Mike can be stronger. Better. But no one else can hear the voice. And the voice never tells Mike what that kind of strength can cost him in A Trick of the Light (2013) by Lois Metzger.
At a slim 208 pages (hardcover) it is really hard to talk about this book without spoiling some of the twists Metzger has skillfully created. Suffice it to say, Mike is in trouble.
What I can tell you is that despite touching on some familiar territory, Metzger comes at the issues in A Trick of the Light in a very clever and original way. Mike is not the typical protagonist in this type of story.
The narrator of this book is not typical either. (It’s not a spoiler to say it is not Mike but I’ll leave it at that.) Metzger’s choice of narrator is extremely interesting and makes for a very creepy read. At the same time it also adds a lot of distance between Mike and the reader as Mike’s story is told at a remove. The technique works but it does make the book a little confusing at first.
That said, once you get into the rhythm of the story this book really takes off. Metzger expertly draws readers into Mike’s struggles without ever coming across as heavy-handed or preachy.
A Trick of the Light is a subtle, engrossing read that would be ideal for reluctant and avid readers alike.
Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Skinny by Donna Crooner, Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King, The Beautiful Between by Courtney B. Sheinmel, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Exclusive Bonus Content with a SPOILER: This book is a fascinating read about eating disorders but I can’t stop wondering if it could be a trigger or a workbook for kids who are at risk for eating disorders. Lots of stuff to unpack with this one. I think it’s a totally great book but I feel like it’s one that really begs to be discussed.