The Blonde Bookworm: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert -- Review

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert -- Review

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Title: Picture Us in the Light 
Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert 
Pages: 368 
Publishing: April 10th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion


Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.


This review is a little bit difficult to write because I still have very mixed emotions about this novel. I think the writing was beautiful, there were some very difficult topics that I think were handled extremely well, but I had a really hard time engaging with the characters. It had a very dark quality to it that actually made me sad while reading it. I think this shows the depth of the writing, but I really don't like to be sad while I read! 

Does it make sense why I have such mixed feelings now? The characters were complex, and the writing was gorgeous, but the story just got me down a little. I still enjoyed the plot and wanted to know where all of the characters landed, but I also found myself really wanting to finish the novel so I could move on from the sad feelings it was giving me. 

All in all, Picture Us in the Light was a well written coming of age story and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy deep contemporary YA novels. It definitely has some dark qualities and heavy topics, so be aware of that before reading. Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3/5


  1. I haven't seen much about this book online, but the summary has me interested. I might have to check this out 😊

  2. This sounds like an interesting read, but one which I would have to be in the right frame of mind for. I recently read Shadowsong which I found dark and difficult to read some days, and it took me a really long time to read. In short bursts however I found I could enjoy the incredibly beautiful writing style and beautiful world created without the darkness getting to me.

  3. I haven't heard of this book before now, but I totally get the "sad feels" part! I felt that way all throughout Ari and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe :(

  4. This is a great review! I haven’t heard about this book but will definitely look into it!

  5. I find that I need to be in the mood for something sad and dark to enjoy a heavy, emotionally loaded contemporary like this. In fact, I often find it easier to read a gore horror story than a loaded contemporary. That being said, I've read my share of such books and usually enjoyed them, so thank you for putting this on my radar!

  6. I completely understand your feelings of wanting to finish the book as it made you sad and not a lot of people want to be sad when they read, me included. It does sound like quite an interesting read. It does make sense to have mixed feelings, I often get in a pattern of reading darker contemporary YA and I always wonder if there is just something in me which needs to read it at the time. Afterwords I always find myself finding something funny and light to read just to balance my emotions out. Great review!


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