WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!
A story of hope, fear, and flight from a bad situation. The Light Jar was first released in the UK in 2018. The North American version with a new cover came about earlier this year thanks to Scholastic Press.
Eleven-year-old Nate tells the story, beginning with an escape in a rental car with his Mum. They’re leaving behind a controlling and emotionally abusive man who has been living with them. Their destination is a cottage deep in an English forest. What happens is every kids worst nightmare: his mother leaves him there and doesn’t come back. Nate is alone to fend for himself.
There’s not much food and he has to keep the fire going to escape the chill. Nate chooses not to seek help because it would probably mean returning to live with Gary, the person they ran from, or maybe social services would place him elsewhere. He waits and hopes his Mum will return. The situation seems hopeless until he discovers an old friend and a strange girl named Kitty.
An overall sadness pervades, but there’s also a tense mystery with a wonderful set of twists. You’ll be guessing until the end and the final pages will most likely take you by surprise. Nate’s narration is spot on. His interior thoughts and feelings give this story heart. It’s one I found hard to put down.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 240
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
- The light in the jar provides a nice subplot, giving meaning to Nate’s situation.
- Ben is the old friend Nate meets again and played an important role in Nate’s past. His kindness and direction give Nate the hope everything will turn out all right.
- Kitty has the most layers as a character. When they’re revealed, it brings sense to the entire story.
- The main mystery of what happened to the mother will have you guessing along with Nate. Did she get in an accident? Go back to live with with Gary? Or maybe did she just run away?
- Anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, and hope are mixed together and the results are enticing.
We sat in silence for a bit, and I looked at the streetlights reflected in the puddles on the road. It reminded me of something from when I was little, but I couldn’t quite place what it was. It was the color I remembered. A yellowish, glowing color. I suddenly felt like I wanted to cry.
THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From SCHOLASTIC)
Then Nate’s mother heads off for groceries and doesn’t return. Has she run into trouble, or simply abandoned him? He is left alone and afraid, with the dark closing in on him.
But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places, like a strange girl trying to solve the mystery of a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Will Nate find the bravery he needs to face down his fears, survive on his own, and ultimately illuminate his future?
The Light Jar is a captivating story of fear and hope, loneliness and friendship, and finding the light within, even in the darkest of times.
Lisa Thompson is a children’s novelist born in Essex, UK on 5th May, 1973. Her debut novel, The Goldfish Boy, was bought as part of a two-book deal with Scholastic (UK). It was published in the UK in January 2017, where it was a Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month and went on to become a bestseller. The US version was published by Scholastic Inc in February 2017 and was given a starred review by Kirkus Reviews. The Goldfish Boy has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, The Branford Boase Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It has been sold to nine territories around the world.Before becoming a novelist, Lisa worked as a broadcast assistant for BBC Radio 2 and CPL Productions where she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She lives in Suffolk, UK with her family.
(For more visit Lisa Thompson’s website)
Comments are welcome below. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
This one sounds like a must have. My guess is probably wrong as to the reason for Mum’s disappearance. I’ll be getting a copy to find out for sure. Thanks for the review.
this sounds like a modern day Grimm’s tale … the mother abandoning her child deep in the woods. I guess I’ll have to read it!
You will be pleasantly surprised.
This cover is exquisite and beautiful! The story does sound sad, but you’ve piqued my interest with your insightful review. Thanks for sharing this one for MMGM, Greg.
Ooh, this looks good. I will have to check it out.
Wow. This one sounds terrific. I’m putting it on my TBR list. Thanks!
I love mysteries and this sounds sad, but good. I’ll be looking for it too.