The Light We Lost - Jill Santopolo

Goodreads Book Blurb:

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

Genres:

My Review:

waste of time:
1/5

I almost got caught up in the story. I wanted to give in and enjoy the romance and believe in Lucy and Gabe as a couple with big dreams and bad timing. I wanted to pick sides between Gabe and Darren, to really get behind one of Lucy’s love interests. In the end, though, this was an incredibly predictable story about three very emotionally manipulative people. The rest of this review is full of spoilers and I would not recommend reading further if you plan to read The Light We Lost to form your own opinions. …

From the very beginning, 9/11 is just a weird day to start a romance novel. But sure, let’s say timing is truly just always terrible for Gabe and Lucy and it’s not the day they meet that is important but the connection they feel despite external events. If this is truly the case, then Gabe getting back together with his ex-girlfriend that very same day makes no fucking sense. You get to pick one: an instant connection that overcomes everything else or a meet-cute with potential but not enough to overcome the poor timing. You can’t do both.

Fast forward, Lucy and Gabe have graduated, have had little to no interaction since 9/11, but somehow they’re obsessed with each other after one day spent together that wasn’t enough to see them become a couple or even friends. But now I guess enough time has passed, Gabe is single again, they can get together.

Gabe and Lucy are a terrible couple. They have great sex though so it must be love. Lucy likes to make big pronouncements about how she wants to do big things and make a difference and about how she’ll never make anyone give up their dreams. And she’s happy to stick to these ideals as long as they don’t inconvenience her. Gabe also has big dreams and the skill and drive to make them come true but he has to leave to really pursue them. To Lucy, this is, of course, a massive betrayal and she could never support him and they have to break up when he leaves.

So Gabe leaves to pursue his dreams, Lucy is heartbroken and full of self-pity and eventually meets Darren. Now Darren is aware she’s been through a massive break up and moves slower than a snail to make sure he doesn’t spook her. Almost immediately, Darren has so many red flags. He seems to be following a plan, creating what he thinks a relationship should be, and Lucy just happens to be there. Instead of finding out what she actually likes, what she wants out of a relationship, he makes all the decisions and lets her just follow along. Lucy is obviously still in love with Gabe and has many of her own red flags so she just goes along with it.

Darren and Lucy get married. Darren thinks he’s getting a housewife and Lucy thinks she’s getting… the only other available man in the world since it didn’t work with Gabe and she’s never dated anyone else? In the end, I do think Darren got the short end of the stick because at least he’s faithful to his marriage, but he also does plenty to prove he’s not a great person either. Although Lucy doesn’t physically cheat on Darren until near the end of the book, she’s never been emotionally faithful to him. Let’s skip all the repetitive nonsense that is their relationship and get right to the end.

Lucy thinks Darren is cheating on her (with very little supporting evidence) so she runs off to Gabe to cheat as well. They make a plan to run away together but before they can move forward the obvious happens, as has been foreshadowed with absolutely zero subtlety from the very beginning: Gabe has been in a terrible accident and is now brain dead. Surprisingly, that’s not the most pressing issue. Lucy happens to have slept with both Gabe and Darren on the same day and is now pregnant. Because it turns out the name on Darren’s phone belongs to a realtor and he was buying Lucy a house, not having an affair. So Gabe dying actually makes things easier for Lucy, she just has to do a paternity test before she can unplug him.

Surprise, surprise: Gabe is the father. Lucy seems to keep this information to herself, only writing a letter to her child so they’ll know someday, and everyone else goes on with their lives. Well, except for Gabe of course.
… This is not a love story. This is a story of selfish, spoiled assholes who manipulate others to get what they want. They choose hypocrisy over honesty and treat relationships like checklists. The whole book feels like it was written by a preteen who has seen too many rom-coms and thinks relationships only exist the way they do in the movies. All it takes to be deep and meaningful is to quote Shakespeare and live in NYC. Even writing this review was exhausting, I can’t even go into how reading it felt.

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