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Reading Garth Stein’s A Sudden Light

A multi-family mystery. A meditation to the love of books. A tale of forbidden love. A house with hidden chambers and secret passages. I cannot really nail the book yet but the narrative voice is interesting—a teenager

“I approached the seam, and saw it was a hidden door with the same wallpaper and paneling as the corridor, so, unless you knew where to look, you wouldn’t see it. I opened it to reveal an empty linen closet with a dangling chain. I pulled the chain, and a light came on, but the closet shelves were empty. I noticed a small ring flush with the back wall, just about waist height. I flicked at it with my finger and it popped up. I lifted it and twisted and it clicked. It was a teeny door latch. I pulled, and the back wall of the closet swung toward me with a great, yawning, vacuous sound, as if I were opening a tomb.” (Ch.15, 119)

Is it meant to be a ghost story? Probably. But so far what draws me is the family’s struggle to connect with one another in a beautifully rendered setting in the Pacific Northwest.


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