POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

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Book Review: Where All the Light Tends to Go by David Joy

Author: David Joy
Title: Where All the Light Tends to Go
Genre: Literary, Southern, Grit
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Random House)
Number of Pages: 272
Narrator: Jacob McNeely
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 59 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.05%.

Where All the Light Tends to Go by David Joy

What’s It About?

Jacob McNeely, the reluctant son of a prosperous small-town meth dealer, tells the story of the few weeks following the high school graduation of his childhood friend and lover. While he wants to reconnect with her, he tries to keep her at an arm’s length. He knows he is destined to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he doesn’t want to hold her back.

As the story proceeds, Jacob gives us a gritty portrayal of what it’s like to grow up in rural, drug-ridden Western North Carolina. Working for his father, he sees firsthand the corruption of local law enforcement, the suffocating fear of those caught up in the drug ring, and the brutality of the business. All of Jacob’s observations and actions culminate in an overriding sense of hopelessness and feeling of being trapped.

When an a opportunity arises to escape his life in the rural south and go off to the city while his girlfriend attends college, he must tie up lose ends in the business in order to leave. Dealing with the deteriorating mental state of his drug-addicted mother, a murder investigation involving his father’s business, and his girlfriend’s own doubts about her potential, one question looms heavily across Jacob’s narrative: will he get out?

Should You Read It?

If you’re a fan of the grit lit genre, you’ll love this book. Where All the Light Tends to Go fits right into the tales of corruption, lawlessness, and desperation in the rural American south such as Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. The novel is graphic in its descriptions of the lifestyle Jacob is born into, and there is plenty of movement–a lot of things happening. For a literary novel, it’s certainly a page turner. But there is also a fair amount of introspection and internal dialogue. If you like something fast-paced and–at the same time–a little more high brow, you might enjoy this book.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Huffington Post, Kirkus Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by David Joy: Where All the Light Tends to Go is David Joy’s debut novel, but he has written a memoir–Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey.