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The Way the Light Bends

Review

The Way the Light Bends

THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS by Cordelia Jensen centers on Lincoln, a high school student at a prestigious private high school in New York City. Throughout her childhood, Lincoln was overshadowed by her adopted sister, Holly, and her numerous achievements that emulated their accomplished mother’s success. Lincoln and Holly were inseparable when they were younger, until their mother realized Holly’s potential and qualities that paralleled her own and suddenly placed more importance on Holly’s life. Both girls were accepted into a competitive private high school, however Lincoln is on academic probation because of her failing grades.

"THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS perfectly captures Lincoln’s artistic side....The story itself was right to the point as each word, phrase and line mattered to the plot...."

Meanwhile, Holly is the “picture perfect” daughter, being the starting goalie of their high school’s soccer team, invested in her school work (particularly sciences, as her mother is a doctor) and thriving socially with her friends and a boyfriend. Additionally, Holly exemplifies their family’s standard for high achieving academic success by achieving straight As. While Lincoln is not as academically oriented as Holly, she has an eye for photography and the arts, which is appreciated by her best friend and occasionally by her father. As the novel unfolds, Holly and Lincoln are able to reconnect and rekindle their close relationship, and Lincoln and her mother find an appreciation for one another.

As a reader, I felt Lincoln’s pain as she tried to obtain her mother’s approval and love, but constantly falls short with her academics, social life and as the perfect daughter her parents yearn for. Jensen is able to paint a clear picture of the struggles Lincoln faces in her household and school environment with her vivid, vibrant writing.

Written as a series of poems, THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS perfectly captures Lincoln’s artistic side, as each poem is abstract and emphasizes certain lines or phrases. I thought this was a very creative way of portraying the storyline in this novel, an aspect not typically seen in YA novels. The story itself was right to the point as each word, phrase and line mattered to the plot, which I personally enjoyed as a reader.

As for the storyline, I enjoyed the relationships Lincoln had with her family members, best friend and boyfriend. Lincoln maintained a solid relationship with her best friend throughout the story, often supporting Lincoln with her artistic side and providing support, as well as humor, to many dynamics. There was a small LGBTQ presence in the plot, with Lincoln’s best friend dating a girl at their high school, which I found important and relevant to today’s society. I also enjoyed that as the story line progressed, the reader was able to obtain a glimpse into the mother’s childhood, and find the cause behind her disdain for Lincoln’s passions. While the mother’s harsh behavior made it difficult to like her as a character, I welcomed her becoming more vulnerable with Lincoln, and felt sympathetic regarding her past.

Jensen's novel is a powerful one for young adults to read about Lincoln’s ability to find herself, and how she is better off afterwards. I would highly recommend to any teen looking for a quick, yet dynamic read in the contemporary genre.

Reviewed by Ryan H., Teen Board Member on March 23, 2018

The Way the Light Bends
by Cordelia Jensen