The Light Between Us
Written by Katie Khan
Published by Transworld – Penguin Random House
Publication date: 9th August 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
Isaac and Thea were once close, but they’ve grown apart.
Thea works tirelessly, convinced she can prove everyone around her wrong – convinced she can prove that time travel is possible. But when one of her attempts goes wrong, she finds herself picking up the phone and calling her old friend.
Isaac is in New York – it’s the middle of the night, but when he sees who’s calling him, he cannot ignore his phone. At Thea’s request, he travels home, determined to help her in her hour of need.
But neither of them are prepared for what they will discover when he gets there.
The planets were moving towards each other in the night sky when Isaac and Thea first met. It was a rare conjunction, the type that only happens once a decade – and, at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, the Astronomy Club was meeting to observe the curious celestial event.
Their numbers were bolstered that night by random observes, hoping to snatch a quick glimpse through the telescopes. Not many understood exactly what they were looking at, but they’d been told Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars would align, tracing a line across the sky shortly after twilight. It was a sight rarer than an eclipse and there was a hum of excitement out on the grass as students and professors mingled, huddling in groups for warmth as they waited with a tangible expectation they could almost taste on the cold wind.
It wouldn’t be too much longer…looking out at the universe will make any human feel improbably small.
(If anyone feels like experiencing true wonder and realising how small we are, this weekend will be the perfect opportunity as the Perseids meteror shower will be visible this weekend, with the best views on Saturday 11th night/early hours of Sunday 12th August. Due to the small crescent moon, lots of meteors should be visible!)
I wanted to read this after adoring Katie’s debut, Hold Back the Stars (see my review here). Hold Back the Stars was beautiful, but it also broke my heart…so I started this book with a little bit of caution. Was it going to pull me in, then tear me apart like Hold Back the Stars did?
I immediately liked Thea and Isaac, both as individuals and as a potential couple. We meet them as university students; Thea studying physics and philosophy, Isaac keeping busy with Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics. Thea feels something upon their first meeting, a connection, a something that she might want to pursue further…but it is stopped before it can really begin when it turns out that Isaac already has a girlfriend, and she’s one of Thea’s friends.
The end up on different continents, only occasionally in touch and never really addressing what could have been. Yet, the connection is still there, wordless and pure, meaning that they can understand each other even after time apart.
Years later, Thea is possessed with the need to prove her theories, leading her into some pretty dubious decisions. Along the way she is aided and abetted by some true friends…yet when things go awfully wrong, it is Isaac who Thea turns to for help.
I loved how gentle, uncertain and realistic their relationship is, as well as the friendship group surrounding Thea; all strong, opinionated women who choose to support their friend even when things go wrong. I could relate to Thea’s feelings of groundlessness and her search for a history that would tie her more firmly to the real world, could understand her drive to prove her theories correct and her wish to create more memories to make up for those which have faded with time.
Like her first book, The Light Between Us is all about the characters and their connections with each other, across time and space.
For that reason, I would recommend it to readers who perhaps wouldn’t normally pick up a time-slip or science-fiction book, because at it’s heart this is a novel about what it means to be human, what it means to live and what it means.
A beautiful thoughtful read which I have not been able to stop musing over since I closed the book!
Perhaps a reread is due when I get my hands on the beautiful finished hardcover…
Thea is quiet as they ride along the riverbank, bridges flanking their left-hand side. She feels the confusion of time, the sense that not everything is in its rightful place – including, possibly, her – and it makes her uncomfortable.
The thought gives her the start of a headache, and she’s relieved for a moment that it’s raining. So long as you’re not cold, a downpour can be refreshing. No, more than that – cleansing. Isolating. Invigorating. She understands the joy in the easy symbolism of baptism, the washing away of sins. But there’s something neurophysical in it, Thea’s sure: the sensory overload of raindrops touching the skin at random
What I liked: Isaac’s sweet character, Thea and her group of friends – I loved seeing positive female friendships rather than the ever popular ‘frenemies’ or ‘girl-hate’, the way the first chapter and the last chapter tie everything together in a perfect loop, the ethical and historical questions raised, the sites they visit around London (fun to recognise places you know in a book, or read about somewhere and then visit it! Paris felt incredibly familiar to me on my first visit because I have read so many books set there). I should probably stop listing things now because, really, I liked everything! The ending was utter, bittersweet perfection!
Even better if: I would have liked to have found out what exactly happened to Rosy. Where did she go and how did she get back? (Hoping that a reread will shed more light on this) I am now off to read more about time travel! I feel like I need some more education on physics to keep up with Thea…
How you could use it in your classroom: This isn’t one I would generally pick up to use in a classroom, but the lyrical language here could be unpicked and used to inspire creative writing, perhaps in an A-level or unievrsity creative writing class.
(Thank you to Transworld-Penguin Random House and Netgalley for my e-ARC and to Hannah and Anne for letting me be part of the blog tour)
About the Author
Katie Khan has spent 10 years working in online editorial in the film industry, including 4 years as Head of Digital at Paramount Pictures. She joined Warner Bros. in 2017 to work on a major film production. Her first book, Hold Back the Stars, is being adapted into a film by the producers of Stranger Things.
She is a graduate of the acclaimed Faber Academy writing course.
Katie lives in London with her boyfriend and rescue cat Artie.
Don’t miss all the other stops on this blog tour: