Where the Light Goes by Sara Barnard

Where the Light Goes by Sara BarnardWhere the Light Goes by Sara Barnard
Published by Walker Books
Published on 4 May 2023
Genres: Performing Arts, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: my local library
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RRP: $22.99
5 Stars

A heart-wrenching exploration of grief, set in a landscape corrupted by fame and the scrutiny that comes from living in the shadow of a star.
"Lizzie Beck" is one quarter of British pop sensation The Jinks, who launched their career via a reality TV talent show and rose straight to fame – and in Lizzie’s case, infamy, for her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, stints in rehab and candid confessions about her mental health on Instagram.
To Emmy, though, she will always be her older sister, Beth, the person whose footsteps she intends to follow.Except now she can’t. Because Beth, Emmy's beloved sister, has died by suicide.
Forced to face a world without the guiding light of her bright, brilliant big sister, Emmy must wrestle with the impact of private grief, public scrutiny and discover who she once was and who she will become, now that Beth is gone.

Where the Light Goes is a bittersweet novel about grief and survival after suicide, starring Emmy as the little sister of Lizzie Beck, the ‘wild child’ of the teen pop girl group The Jinks.

Emmy knows Lizzie better than anyone: to Emmy, Lizzie is just Beth, her older, extremely loyal, and extremely loving famous sister. But Lizzie has ended her own life, and although the novel doesn’t focus on Lizzie and her downward spiral, it does touch on a few of Lizzie’s darkest moments. However, the novel is about Emmy, and how Emmy and her family grieve. Emmy intended to follow in Beth’s footsteps: Beth was opening many doors for Emmy, ushering her through with a promise of singing together. But that was cut short, and now Emmy isn’t sure who she is without her big sister.

So I know I say this a lot, but Sara Barnard always rips my heart out. And I know it’s really, really dumb of me, because now I am 6/6 (there’s 8 total, as of writing this, however I have not read 2 of them and I hope to rectify that very soon) for sobbing like a hungry, angry baby when I read Barnard novels. And it’s not like I can very easily pinpoint any one area that makes me cry and hope that my readers will understand that: Barnard pours her heart and soul into her novels, and it’s pages upon page of character development and backstory that makes you really understand and empathise with them. I cried during an argument Emmy had with her mum, and I can’t even remember what it was over. It was so emotional and I’m a baby, but I loved this book.

I also really loved so much the formatting of this book. I read the paperback which is basically a work of art, and I have no idea how it would even begin to translate to ebook or audiobook, because there’s interviews, text messages, audio transcriptions, and all these beautiful little moments from Emmy that I can’t describe in any way to do it justice, except that they kind of feel like beats of poetry.

I lived in England so a few years, so I feel like I can speak with some authority about how very British Barnard’s books are. I also feel that she absolutely nails the British teen girl voice. not just Emmy’s, but the way the other girls speak to each other as well.

And yes, the novel is slightly predictable. Basically, when you know the beats of these kinds of stories, you can tell where they’re going. I did kind of hope that they weren’t going in that direction, but I guess villains are needed. Even if the villains aren’t particularly villainy and are genuinely doing what they think is best.

Basically, I’m super glad I read this and I really, really need to stop putting off Sara Barnard books because she always nails it, it’s thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, engaging, and emotional, and I’m very happy to say that she has solidified her place as one of my favourite authors.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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