July Review: the light we lost

Jessica DeBano

About a girl who couldn’t get over her ex. Bummer.

“Some relationships feel like a wildfire-they’re powerful and compelling and majestic and dangerous and have the capability to burn you before you even realize you’ve been consumed…..some relationships feel like a hearth fire-they’re solid and stable and cozy and nourishing.” – Jill Santopolo


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.

Olive & Smith Thoughts:

Rating: 4 out of 5

Short Version:

I liked it, I mean it only took me two days to read so I definitely enjoyed it. I liked the main character, Lucy, and felt for her but I couldn’t get past the reoccurring theme of infidelity. I thought this would be more of classic love story, but it ended up being so much more than that. It was about lost love, accepting new love, and the struggle to not compare the two. At times, I couldn’t decide which love I think is better. Overall, great read- beautifully written- and did bring a little tearage towards the end. Great pick for Summer!

Long Version:

I stumbled upon this book after visiting #BadAssBookBabes on Instagram, as I was looking for a new read. I knew going into it (from other readers comments) that the ending would be dramatic and tear-filled. Up until reading this book, I didn’t know how much I could love a story, and dislike it at the same time. I loved the way it was written. Jill has a way of perfectly describing all the ups, downs, and emotional turbulence one encounters when they truly love someone. It really made me appreciate all the love I have experienced in my life. It reminded me of the notion that each partner brings something new into your life, and choosing one path- should close you off from all others.

I say ‘should’ because Lucy, our main character, struggled (utterly failed) to do this throughout a good thirteen years of her life. Throughout dating, engagements, marriage, and children- she never stopped entertaining thoughts of her first love- Gabe. She constantly compared Darren, her boyfriend who became her husband and then the father of her children, to Gabe. Gabe being her self indulgent ex-boyfriend who inadvertently strung her along with every interaction, email, text, etc. It’s important to note- most of her comparisons were often in Gabe’s favor. Which I think is easy to do. It’s easy to glorify past relationships, forgetting all the misgivings of the past and only recalling the whimsical, nostalgic moments. And Lucy was really, really good at this.

I related to this story, probably more than I’d like to admit. As someone who spent 5 years getting over an ex, I know her struggle. I know what it’s like to be there for someone from your past. To always answer that call. To always drop everything. For a time, I was a complete Lucy.

What I couldn’t get over- was Lucy’s constant impulse to play with fire. Which ultimately, led to infidelity within her marriage. I cannot tell you how many times I had to stop reading to roll my eyes, look at my boyfriend and say “Is she serious?” My boyfriend, of course, only got tidbits of what was going on with the Lucy-Darren-Gabe love triangle but he heard me rant, more than rave, about this book. I can’t stand any partner who has any inclination to cheat. I liked that Lucy was honest with Darren about her interactions with Gabe, and even discussed their plans to meet. Which speaks highly of Darren, something I didn’t do a lot of. Darren was not the best ‘fit’ for Lucy, either. Yes, he was portrayed as a “nice guy”, but he fit so easily into the stereotype: Corporate Husband Who Expects Women to Willingly Adopt The Role of Housewife Upon Marriage & Children. Which I cannot get on board with.

Overall, I liked that each character wasn’t perfect. No one was overtly good or bad. Darren, Gabe, and Lucy were all excellent examples that people are filled with so much grey area. Yes, we mean well, but often times, emotions can influence our decisions- which was Lucy’s pitfall. Darren’s pitfall was his inability to listen… err grow as a partner. And for Gabe… personally, I think Gabe was too idealistic and put everything (career, romance) on a pedestal. Not to mention the pedestal Lucy had Gabe permanently mounted on.

In closing, the book did a great job at keeping me engaged. I read the entire book in two days, so it’s obvious I liked it. Mostly, because I was drawn into Lucy’s melodrama and wanted to see if anything would come of her obsessive thoughts. I loved the connection that Gabe and Lucy had, even if I had to stifle my feelings about the cheating. Still, I would recommend this book to any of readers/friends because it’s a page turner that I think a lot of people can relate to.

Favorite Quotes:

“I think that making yourself available means putting the relationship you’re in first. Not necessarily always, but often. It means making the decision that’s best for the two of you, as a unit, even if it means compromising a little individually. It means sharing everything.”

“I craved the kind of closeness I felt in your embrace… I imagined giving myself over to you, completely, the way I used to, abandoning all control, letting you be in charge. I wanted that. I needed that. I’d been trying so hard to hold everything together, and I was done. I needed someone else to take over. I needed YOU to take over.”

“Whether it’s destiny or decision that has kept us connected all these years. Or a combination of both, taking the current when it serves.”

“Because we only reveal our true selves to the people we care about most.”

“We’ve known each other for almost half our lives.
I’ve seen you smiling, confident, blissfully happy.
I’ve seen you broken, wounded, lost.
But I’ve never seen you like this.
You taught me to look for beauty. In darkness, in destruction, you always found light.
I don’t know what beauty I’ll find here, what light. But I’ll try. I’ll do it for you. Because I know you would do it for me.
There was so much beauty in our life together.”




  1. Laura

    July 25th, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Oh I have been dying to read this but the last book I read of hers was a sloooooow page turner. Thanks for breaking it down [short and long!! loved that].

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