2 out of 4 stars
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My Guiding Light by Joanna Liggitt tells the story of a young teenager who abruptly loses her vision on Christmas Day. Suddenly finding herself in the dark, both literally and figuratively, Millie Winters recounts the last year of her life, starting with her unexplainable blindness. She experiences a roller coaster of emotions as she has to learn to deal with her new situation, as if being sixteen weren’t already hard enough! Once denial and anger have passed, Millie is finally willing to pick herself up and attempt to become a more independent person. Even the smallest tasks can be a challenge, but with the help of her growing circle of friends and family, and potentially a guide dog in the future, Millie begins to realize that she does have a future after all.
The most prominent message I found within this book is just how much importance we, as humans, place on the way things look. The décor in our homes, our yards, our own physical appearances, the appearances of others: we place a lot of value in the way that these things look. Teenagers, especially, often tend to value these appearances even more, with special emphasis on clothing, shoes, make-up, and hair. Millie, suddenly unable to see any of these things, finds herself in world where she can no longer relate to her peers.
I really enjoyed the incorporation of this powerful message, and I hope that other teens are able to find this message “eye-opening” as well. However, it would have been nice if there had been a little more character growth in this realm. Even after losing her sight, Millie is still constantly worried about the way things look. People frequently compliment her appearance and assure her that she is still beautiful. I wasn’t even the one receiving the compliments, but it made me uncomfortable that everyone in Millie’s life was so obsessed with her looks while Millie was trying to find other ways to experience her world.
I feel like I can separate this book into three distinct parts. Part 1 starts at the beginning and continues all the way to about the halfway mark. Part 1 is fast-paced and reads like a memoir. I actually had to stop and check whether I was reading a book of fiction or non-fiction. It is fiction, but it sounds like it could be an autobiography. Then Part 2 comes in halfway through the book, when the pacing shifts from a fast-paced, memoir-style book into a much slower-paced story. This is when the meat of the story actually occurs, and we see the problems that Millie has to face in her everyday life. Finally, Part 3 sneaks up out of nowhere, and the remaining 25% of the book goes off and ends in a completely different direction from the rest of the book. Personally, I think the book should have ended after the section I have dubbed “Part 2.” I can’t really tell what happens in Part 3 without spoilers, but I was seriously expecting the whole thing to end up being revealed as a dream sequence because it just seemed so outlandish compared to the rest of the book.
Adult language is present throughout the book, but it is fitting for young adult readers and adds personality to certain characters. There are a lot of errors scattered throughout the text, mostly consisting of grammatical word-choice errors or typographical errors. Because of these errors and the disjointed ending of the book, I give this book a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. If I had not read the final quarter of the book, I would have been more inclined to the give the book a 3 out of 4 rating. I think the ending took away from the overall quality of the story.
My Guiding Light
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