“There’s nothing you can’t do.”
Synopsis: 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.
Publisher: Abbie Emmons (Self-published)
Publication Date: August 7 2019 (Expected)
Format: eBook (Kindle ARC)
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review; thank you NetGalley and Abbie Emmons for the opportunity to read and review this novel. This in no way sways my review or opinion of the novel.
… it took me so long to try and write this review … my thoughts are such a mess. This beautiful novel has made in nearly impossible to put my thoughts into coherent words. Uplifting, inspiration, motivation … Emmons’ debut novel reminds me of those beautiful classics but with more relevant references and no prejudice or discrimination (sorry, classics … but it’s true). For my first NetGalley novel in about a year, Emmons has set the standards high. So let’s ATTEMPT at a review, shall we?
CONTENT & TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains ableism (minor), bullying (minor), car accident, hospitalization, medical stuff and trauma (PTSD).
The writing style of this novel is reason alone to read it — it’s absolutely lovely! Emmons has a natural talent for writing.. The writing teeters on a balance of prose and poetry, written as though we’re following Tessa and Weston’s stream of consciousness while maintaining this elegance through carefully selected word choices — there’s no “unnecessary” word choice or portion in the novel. I’m also a HUGE fan of the inclusion of Tessa’s poetry, for it helps capture her personality and emotions. But it’s not even the BEAUTY of the writing … every chapter is heart-wrenching, for you FEEL the emotions of each character as though it’s you in their position. The POV’s also felt unique, capturing both Tessa and Weston’s voice when it was their POV.
Blatantly and un-apologetically, Emmons displays the social stigmas towards those with disabilities while also educating readers. The mistreatment and insensitivity towards those with physical disabilities is still a HUGE issue. Through flashback chapters, readers are shown how society treats Weston differently AFTER his surgery, both with good intentions and in a negative light. Whether it’s bullying or ‘helping’ when it’s unwarranted, Emmon emphasizes the need for society to educate themselves regarding how the world views those with disabilities — treat them equally, don’t decide they NEED help unless it’s asked, treat them as you would any other person, etc. Even word choices are discussed, which was actually a comic relief part of the book. Rather than shying from the words “walk” or “see”, just use them. But the thing I loved the most is Emmons message to those who relate to Tessa and Weston. Through their character development and growth, Emmons highlights the most beautiful message: “There’s nothing you can’t do.”
In a well-balanced manner, Emmons portrays a number of diverse elements to this grand novel. The main characters having physical disabilities is DEFINITELY the big one, a key reason why I requested to review this ARC. There’s not enough of this in literature today, a sad truth that needs to change. But Emmons also demonstrates diversity through religion, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Judaism, Christianity, Agnostic/Unknown … 100 Days of Sunlight illustrates them all. As someone who’s unsure of her own belief system, I was nervous going into this novel. But Emmons not only discusses all these tastefully, but she doesn’t try to SWAY readers to believe a certain way. They’re simply elements to these characters, showing that people who have differentiating beliefs can still get along with one another. Thank you, Emmons!
Though heart-wrenching and an emotional rollercoaster, 100 Days of Sunlight provides a positive message for all those struggling. As someone who suffers from anxiety and mental health issues, I KNOW it’s not as easy as simply saying, “It’s okay … it’s not a big deal”. Our feelings and emotions are much more complex. But Emmons manages to provide a balance of saying it’s okay to be frustrated and sad, while still empowering readers to take control of their lives. Because at the end of the day, we are responsible for creating our own happiness. Finding ways to find the beauty of life even when you’ve been giving a curve-ball (or a gigantic storm) can be challenging, but it’s possible. By the last chapter, I honestly felt like I could concur anything.
The tie to a life of a blogger was a wonderful treat, making this novel feel close to home. This is going to get a bit personal, but I think it needs to be pointed out. A big part of Tessa’s life is the blogging community, especially her small group of friends she’s met throughout her blogging years. I’ve never read a novel with this element, but OH MY WAS IT FANTASTIC! The close connections Tessa has made reminds me of my own in the blogging community. And the support they show her during this difficult time reflects our community so much.
The beginning of the novel is perfection, but I would’ve liked more background knowledge of Tessa’s character. Without spoiling too much, the novel basically goes right into the horrors Tessa faces with her sight. Honestly, this was a smart play — I felt this INCREDIBLE NEED to keep reading. But the one thing I would’ve enjoyed is a back-flash chapter (or half of a chapter) of ‘a-day-in-the-life-of-Tessa’. A central element to the story is how much the accident has changed Tessa … but there’s no real comparison to the ‘pre-accident’ Tessa other than some internal monologue sections during Tessa’s point of view.
The novel’s brimmed with an engaging and developing plot — but the ending? I honestly don’t know how I feel about the ending of the novel. On the one end, the simplicity is something to admire and it’s rather beautiful. On the other hand, it felt rather abrupt and unfinished. I wasn’t left fully satisfied, wanting a few more pages to close things off.
Weston and Tessa are lovely … but the insta-love? For a person who’s anti insta-love, it’s not too bad — it did feel rather gradual. The connection these two have is lovely. My issue isn’t the relationship or the two having a crush or liking for one another … but to be in-love in a couple of months? It just seemed too sudden. However, this is ONE person’s opinion on the matter and I feel it’s a more biased opinion than normal — so please keep this in mind.
100 Days of Sunlight is a novel that I TRULY believe everyone should read — it’s powerful, uplifting and doesn’t hold back. Following Tessa and Weston’s journey to self-acceptance and happiness has been grand, illustrating how to take charge of one’s fulfillment in life even when you feel the world’s against you. Weston is also a WONDERFUL role-model for any age demographic — he doesn’t let fear control his life and he finds ways to love life no matter the circumstances. This novel is a true work of art. Emmons even remembers to pay attention to the times, showing the use of relevant technology to show how society as progressed for those with physical disabilities. For those who need an inspirational read, make sure to pick up your own copy August 2019!