“No one has ever seen the light by being told there are darker places out there.”
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down.
Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.
Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.
Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.
I thought real hard about how I would rate this. I was really excited to read this book, I fell in love with the cover first, and when I read the plot I just knew I had to read to read the whole thing. However, there are just too many things that disturbed me about the book. Beyond the writing or the story itself are a number of problematic things I just can’t brush off.
The best thing about this is the really cute romcom plot with the potential of emotional depth. It has successfully made me feel the feels like the first time I fell “in love” in my teens. I also liked Weston’s friend Rudy’s words of wisdom though they may sound a bit preachy at times.
As for the things I did not like: first off, the attempt at poetry did not really speak to me. I thought it didn’t really help the reading experience and at some parts even intrusive or repetitive. I also did not expect the religious content. Themes centered on faith is not a problem for me as long as it is used solely for characterization or world building, but the way it was written here just made me feel uncomfortable.
But those are mostly personal preferences. Let’s move on to the more problematic themes.
* The lack of consent: 1) Tessa’s grandparents deciding to hire an assistant without consulting her first 2) Weston getting Tessa’s info and going to her house without her permission 3) Weston barging in Tessa’s room without knocking–happens multiple times 4) nonconsensual first kiss
* Romanticized violence: Weston and Rudy loves to beat each other up as a hobby. This in itself is not a very healthy bonding activity for friends, and when Tessa learns about it her reaction was just “And now that he’s revealed he knows how to punch people, I feel especially safe with him.”
* Weston’s treatment of Clara: He completely ignored her feelings, and even “gifted” her to his friend Rudy and I quote “Clara’s not going to break up with me unless she has someone else to go out with.” This one really made me mad. No girl deserves to be treated that way.
* Disability representation: Some of Weston’s decisions while he’s supposed to be on rehab felt too unsafe for me. I think it was all very convenient how he recovered so quickly, but I just can’t believe that could happen by just “believing”— you also have to trust your doctors and therapists, especially since it was your reckless decisions that got you in that situation in the first place. Being this irresponsible and rewarding it as being a success is a dangerous message to throw out there.
Weston is also highly-privileged, in the way that he can just so easily decide to buy a new set of prosthetic legs which are supposed to be “very expensive” but he “doesn’t care”. It’s not too realistic, or rather it comes from too narrow a perspective. Overall I felt the disability elements were used more for the plot, and was not really for the representation.
So yes, it is mostly cute and fluffy but I just can’t give it a 3⭐️ rating at this point where there are all these little details that are so problematic. Weston and Tessa also felt like 2-dimensional characters most of the time. I really think it could have been a great read with more work put into it.
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Overall Rating: 2/5
About the Author
Abbie Emmons has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil. What started out as an intrinsic love for storytelling has turned into her lifelong passion. There’s nothing Abbie likes better than writing (and reading) stories that are both heartrending and humorous, with a touch of cute romance and a poignant streak of truth running through them. Abbie is also a YouTuber, singer/songwriter, blogger, traveler, filmmaker, big dreamer, and professional waffle-eater. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new stories, you can find her road-tripping to national parks or binge-watching BBC Masterpiece dramas in her cozy Vermont home with a cup of tea and her fluffy white lap dog, Pearl.
100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
ebook, 311 pages
Published August 7th 2019
Genres: Contemporary | Young Adult | Romance