This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
I finished seven books on my recent vacation, and several of them were really stellar.
One of the books I ate right up was This Raging Light by Estelle Laure. This book is a 2017-18 Gateway Nominee, and if this doesn’t sound familiar to you, read more about the Gateways by visiting their official website here.
People in their small town call Lucille’s father “crazy,” but what they don’t know is that her mom wouldn’t win any “Mother of the Year” award, either. In fact, it’s been weeks since Lucille’s mother left her and her younger sister Wren in order to “find herself,” leaving no contact information and only enough money to pay the bills through the end of the month. Lucille is panicked at the thought of being discovered by Social Services, so she throws herself into being a parent to Wren and concealing the fact there is no adult at home. If she can maintain the charade until she’s eighteen, she can stop worrying about losing Wren, too.
At first, Lucille’s best friend Eden is an ally, caring for Wren when Lucille works as a waitress, but when Lucille and Eden’s twin Digby become romantically involved, the girls’ friendship dissolves. Things get messy because Digby has a longtime girlfriend already, and Lucille’s future is nothing but chaos and uncertainty. Given her past luck, it’s probably too much to ask for Lucille to find love with Digby and friendship with Eden, too.
Laure is slow and tantalizing in revealing details as to why the girls are parentless, but this technique made me hungry to read more. I think most readers will gobble up this book like I did, curious as to whether the author has written other books (Spoiler Alert: She’s written one other so far!).
Inspired by Kindness
Though This Raging Light is a terribly sad novel, it has an abundance of heart and includes wonderful moments of kindness sprinkled throughout. It’s these moments of kindness that inspired my plot driven experience this week. I reflected on the fact that Lucille is repeatedly surprised by mysterious “angels” who seem to know about her circumstances and anonymously shower her with kindness. On a couple of occasions, these angels fill her kitchen pantry with food, and stock up her supply of toiletries. Another time, they decorate her porch with flowers so she can enjoy something beautiful. Instead of alerting the authorities to the absence of her mother, these angels band together to help her.
In response, I decided to perform random acts of kindness and was the recipient of some pretty great random kindness, too. It’s kismet at work again!
First of all, I referred to a newsletter I receive each month from a local charity called Angels’ Arms, an organization that places sibling groups in foster homes in the St. Louis area. Their monthly newsletter includes a link to their Amazon wishlist, and I purchased a couple of items on this list, supplies that Lucille’s angels provided for her, too. You can find out more about the amazing efforts of Angels’ Arms here.
Next, I consulted the web for some other ideas of random acts of kindness. I stumbled upon this website with a whole host of suggestions! In fact, this site led me down a rabbit hole as I applied to be a “RAKtivist” (a Random Act of Kindness activist), and then joined the RAKtivist Facebook group. As a result, my feed was flooded with stories of people who are spreading love and joy all over the world. Talk about inspiring! If you are an educator or parent, the website also includes free curricula to help teach about kindness to K-12 students.
As suggested by the website, I took time these past couple of weeks to be especially thoughtful and appreciative. I cleaned the gym equipment after I used it, I looked any customer service people in the eye and told them I really appreciated them for helping me, and I purchased small trinkets for some of my favorite people while I was on vacation to let them know I had been thinking of them. I try everyday to be kind, but this plot driven experience proved I can always do more.
Because I was making a concerted effort to be kind this week, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to finish a project I’d been working on for my friend, Lauren, too. Six months ago, I started making her a t-shirt quilt from past races we had run together, and I finished the quilt today. It’s the first t-shirt quilt I’ve ever made, and while I hope Lauren loves it, I truly enjoyed the experience of making it for her, my dear friend.
I was the recipient of kindness this week, too. My friend Jaime gifted me a beautiful portrait of Benny and Rudy made by an artist friend:
And as I walked along the historic part of a local town with friends this week, we stumbled upon several beautifully painted rocks, part of a project to bring joy to strangers! I picked up this little cutie which, as directed, I will place in another location for someone else to find and smile about. Thanks, stcharlesrocks.com!
As an act of kindness for reading all the way down to the end of this blog post, I’m going to give you a chance to win a book:
In the comments, tell me about an act of kindness you performed recently. I’ll pick a winner by Sunday, July 16.
Thanks for reading!