Review: A Scatter of Light

Two people are standing leaning against a pickup truck. The lights are on. The truck is parked near the edge of the land overlooking water with small waves that are hitting the land. There are hills in the background and lights of various colors in the sky.

A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo
Dutton Books

Summary: Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends–one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable–for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

My Thoughts: This is a book that I could not put down. Steph and her story have a lot of layers and it was intriguing to see them slowly emerge. And there were also many bits of connection that were not clear initially and watching those revelations was a little like finding clues in a mystery. Seeing those strands come together was quite satisfying.

As the summary indicates, Steph’s summer is not what she had expected, but her alternate plans are life changing in ways she never expected. There is a lot happening internally with Steph as she discovers new things about herself. With her new friends and even with her grandmother, she begins to see herself and her relationships with a new perspective.

I appreciated the interactions Steph has with her grandmother about art, life, family and, and time. I think readers will find a lot to relate to and think about there. It sure made me want to play with art and think about things.

The title and cover art allude to the astronomy that is woven throughout the book. That adds another dimension to the book. What we think we are seeing, is not always what is there. Steph shares an interest in astronomy with her grandfather and that science and the art with her grandmother blend in interesting ways.

Steph is a high school graduate and her new friends are a few years older so this is on the older side of YA. She is definitely navigating some complicated situations, but is learning so much about herself and what she actually wants and needs.

Recommendation: Get it now–especially if you have enjoyed Malinda Lo’s previous work. The book is full of life with all of its messiness. And, though it isn’t a large part of the story, there is mention of Lily and Kath from Last Night at the Telegraph Club for those who want to know more about how their story progressed.

Malinda Lo Reads from A Scatter of Light

Malinda Lo & Ellen Oh Discussing A Scatter of Light

Pages: 324
Availability: On shelves now (and Malinda Lo has posted links to bookstores with signed copies here)
Review copy: Purchased at Eastwind Books so it’s signed 😉