- Quincy Felix
100 Days of Sunlight
When Life knocks you down, when it batters you over and over again, get back up, and punch Life in the face.
AUTHOR: Abbie Emmons
AGE RAGE: 13+
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down.
Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.
Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So, he comes back. Again, and again and again.
Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism,” convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns, he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.
What did this book just do to me? Something amazing that's for sure. Often, I subconsciously judge a book off of three things: what the message is, how the book makes me feel emotionally, and how long I think about it after I finish it. As I loved the themes of 100 Days of Sunlight, reading it felt like I got a shot of pure hope in my arm, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it for over a month… I’d say this book is well deserving of a 5-star review.
PLOT & PROSE:
Miss Emmons has hacked the science behind writing a story that keeps you flipping pages! As a usual action reader, I rely on battles and close calls to keep me in suspense. Not with this book. A contemporary romance/coming of age story, 100 Days of Sunlight, had me wrestling between wanting to read it in one sitting and slowly soaking it in. The writing style is beautiful but also casual. Something few authors can pull off.
The message behind this book just strikes a chord deep inside me. Growing up in a family who loves inspiring underdog stories, they have a special place in my heart. So, a story about a boy athlete who lost his legs and an up-and-coming poet who loses her sight sounds well worth reading! While Weston’s tragedy happened three years ago, we get well placed flashbacks throughout the book that show up close, his own battle. He knows what Tessa is going through more than she can imagine. While the biggest portion of 100 Days of Sunlight focuses on Tessa’s growth, at the end we see the characters switch places. It’s Tessa’s turn to shove Weston out of the doorway of despair.
This book puts into words one of the most important messages of life. When you go through a tragedy, no matter the scale, you feel entitled to despair. You think you have every right to be miserable and angry. Except, you don’t. Stop playing victim and get back up. You are in a boxing ring with life. Life is going to knock you down again and again. It’s going to kick the absolute daylights out of you. It’s a choice, despair is a paved path, staying down is easy. Thing is, you have no right to stay down. Crawl to your feet and punch Life right back in the face. It’s going to hurt, picking yourself up always does, but it’s going to feel amazing. As Weston says, in not so many words, “the road called happiness often feels like hell.”
Let’s start with Tessa, our residential poet. After a car accident thanks to a drunk driver, Tessa becomes blind. Doctors say that with time, the blindness might fade. But only 100 days of darkness will tell. Tessa is a writer, her poetry stems from the beauty of the world and when that is stripped away… she becomes hopeless, and angry. Other than the fact that we are both writers, I actually didn’t relate to Tessa that much. However, her character was so real that I didn’t mind. She was complex and her story arc was so very satisfying. Not only do we see her conquer her despair, but we see her become more alive than she was even with her sight. She becomes a girl without fear. And when Weston loses his sight on the truth, she attacks the lies he tells himself with all the stubbornness that he had shown her at the story's start.
Thirteen-year-old Weston was invincible. To his little brothers and friends, he wasn’t even human. If he was in a movie, he would be the daring hero awing everyone with his shocking feats while an Imagine Dragons song played in the background. At least, that’s what he thought. Until he loses both his legs below the knee due to one skateboarding stunt gone too far. Three years later he won his battle with Life, got back up when few thought he could, and even became one of the best runners on his school’s track team. Then he meets a blind girl named Tessa Dickinson. He knows what she is going through, and Weston is determined to help her get back on her feet, even if she does write insulting poetry about him. I immediately connected with Weston. His story and growth were as inspirational as any underdog sports movie. And it guarantees to pump your veins with second-hand adrenaline.
Very minimal. Two sweet, non-graphic kisses. Tessa lives with her grandparents because her mom couldn’t take care of her when Tessa was born out of wedlock. There is a decent amount of language. I didn’t mind it much as it was moderate and didn’t severely distract from the story. However, everyone’s tolerance is different.
As Tessa and Weston collide in a storm of stubbornness, laughter, and beckoning sunlight, this book easily won a place on my list of “Old Soul” favorites (a pedestal awarded too very few). Their relationship is probably the happiest thing I have ever read, not going to lie. Each chapter of 100 Days of Sunlight has purpose and characters that drive the story forward. While I read it back in July, I recently reread it and loved it even more the second time around. I have never read a contemporary book so filled with real struggles, resilient victories and powerful meaning. Also, the Sound of Music and Princess Bride references were appreciated, thank you very much!