Jill Santopolo Gets Real About Loss and Love in 'The Light We Lost'

Jill Santopolo’s ‘The Light We Lost’ is one of the Public Library Podcast’s favorite books of 2017! If you haven’t read this devastatingly romantic debut novel about enduring the power of first love, with a shocking and unforgettable ending, you must get your hands on a copy ASAP. 

The novel focuses on Lucy and Gabe, two college students who meet on a day that changes both of their lives forever. The tragedy brought them, as well as the city of New York, together which made Lucy and Gabe want to do something meaningful with their lives. When they cross paths again a year later, it seems almost fated and the two try to find life’s meaning in each other. When Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues her career in New York, the novel spirals into a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousy, betrayals, loss, and ultimately of love. The journey of the two main characters may be separated by continents, but as the story goes on it’s clear that the two are never out of each other’s hearts. 

This book hit us in such a deep and personal way. Once you read it, you’ll know what we’re talking about! Santopolo hits the raw, tender emotion of heartbreak so accurately, that it will leave you scarred long after you put the book down. Santopolo reveals that while the book is not autobiographical, the story did come from a personal place. The author started writing this story six years ago after going through a horrific breakup. After originally only writing children’s books, Santopolo felt the need to write about her feelings without writing about what was actually happening. She admits that there are similarities between what she experienced and what Lucy experienced in ‘The Light We Lost’, and that their lives overlap in some of the book’s details. “I did want the reader to feel like they can inhabit the character in a way.” Santopolo explains, “And I think that when you touch something, you can feel like your inside someone’s perspective or point of view.”

‘The Light We Lost’ quickly dives into a life changing event that devastated our country as a whole. Santopolo wanted to incorporate that event in her novel for a number of reasons. She explained that, “I picked that event in particular because it was a moment that I had experienced at Columbia University that made us as students make specific decisions about our lives. We were about to head out in the world and hopefully make our mark doing different things and ideas that were floating around in our heads became realized. If this is your last moment on earth how do you want to live it? What would you want to be able to say?” She also explains that while writing the book, “I also wanted two characters to connect in a deep way relatively quickly, and in days that are horrifically tragic people’s defenses are down and you’re kind of more vulnerable and when you’re in that state it;s easier to connect with someone. It’s hard to keep your walls and shields up.” Once you dive in to 'The Light We Lost', you will instantly realize how this quote accurately portrays a very important part of the novel and will have you thinking more and more about life's deeper meanings.

“Sometimes we make decisions that seem right at the time, but later, looking back, were clearly a mistake. Some decisions are right even in hindsight," is just one of the many heart wrenching quotes that Santopolo incorporates in ‘The Light We Lost’. The novel is full of beautiful language that will move you to a point where you will feel like you are taking an intimate glance into the character’s lives. In this honest portrayal of love and loss, Santopolo leaves us wondering about the existence of that one, true love and the consequences that can so heavily impact our futures. 

Clearly, we loved everything about this book! The novel was so popular with our readers that we did a giveaway with the winner receiving a signed copy of 'The Light We Lost'!  'The Light We Lost' is the captivating book you need to finish off your summer reading.

You can watch our Facebook Live (it received almost 4,000 views!) with Jill here. 

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