Carving The Light did not advance to the ABNA semifinal round this morning, but as a quarterfinalist, it did receive a short review from Publisher’s Weekly – which is pretty freaking amazing, and more than I’d hoped for when I entered. After reading other contestants’ reviews, I was worried about what mine would say. I’ve beens tressing about it for the past 6 hours, actually – once the list went up and I hadn’t made the cut, I knew the review wouldn’t exactly be glowing. And it isn’t. But it does say a few really nice things about my baby, and is more gentle overall than I’d feared, so for that, I am eternally grateful:
Shared family pain frames this moving and emotional — if predictable — drama about three adult sisters struggling to survive the haunting memories of their parents’ deaths while wrestling with the secrets they keep from one another. Youngest sister Samantha fears that bringing her girlfriend Sarah to the family’s Thanksgiving dinner will make eldest sister Emily reject her, while middle sister Julie balks at telling her sisters that her cancer is back. Meanwhile, family leader Emily hasn’t told her sisters that she has been following the parole hearings of the man who accidentally killed their mother and father.
These and other secrets press on the sisters and their love interests and test their loyalties to one another as autumn fades to winter. While each sister is a finely drawn and fully realized person, their secrets and conflicts are resolved in unsurprising ways. Additionally, the story is cluttered by the appearance of one character who serves to create unnecessary drama and another whose emotional arc is never fully resolved. Still, the sisters profound love for each other and playful sense of camaraderie make this simple story as gentle as one of its favorite images: the last leaf of summer drifting from the branch of a tree.