Tuesday, April 18, 2023

In a Nutshell Reviews - The Epistolary Edition


In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

We Are the Light
 by Matthew Quick
Published by Avid Reader Press on November 1, 2022
Age/Genres: Fiction


Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most important, themselves.

From Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, We Are the Light is an unforgettable novel about the quicksand of grief and the daily miracle of love. The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this tale that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, Quick reminds us that guardian angels are all around us—sometimes in the forms we least expect.

My emotions! My emotions!

This was a deeply moving story of one man’s difficult road to recovery. After surviving a mass shooting at a local movie house, Lucas began writing letters to his analyst. He lost a lot that night, including his wife, and these letter served as a way for him to process that trauma. He detailed his struggles, his guilt, and his sadness. He wrote about the pain of his past, his family issues, and the deep and wonderful love he shared with his wife. The epistolatory format worked so well for this story which was told with so much honesty and a good amount of humor too. It allowed full access to Lucas’ thoughts and emotions which was very effective.

Lucas didn’t just mine from within himself for these letters though. He also shared information about how he and the other survivors worked together to help each other, and their town, heal. The community aspect really grabbed my heart. In the face of something so gruesome and horrible, they were able to find strength and solace in each other, as well as in the art they were creating. The idea of that brought me comfort.

This was far from a predictable tale. Quick planted many surprises in this story. I can admit that there were some things I did not see coming. Everyone knows I am trash for grief stories, and the exploration of the complexities of grief in this book was exceptional. Overall, this was an emotional roller coaster filled with both laughter and tears, and in the end, the story filled me with hope for all the people of Majestic.

Authentically, Izzy
 by Pepper Basham 
Published by Thomas Nelson on November 15, 2022
Age/Genres: Contemporary, Romance

“Dear Izzy—I feel certain there’s a book-loving man living relatively nearby waiting to speak bookish to you ’til death do you part. You just haven’t met yet.”

Izzy Edgewood is a wannabe bookstore owner, quote queen, and Lord of the Rings nerd who has been waiting for Prince Charming to sweep her off her sneakered feet. But it’s hard to meet people when you spend more time with fictional humans than real ones. Which is why her pragmatist cousin Josephine decides to take Izzy’s future into her own meddling hands and create an online dating profile for the hopeful romantic.

To Izzy’s shock (and suspicion), Josie’s plan works. Soon, she’s dialoguing with a Hobbit-loving man named Brodie who lives in a small town an ocean away from her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But is their shared love of books, family, and correspondence enough to overcome Izzy’s fear of flying and the literal distance between them? And is a long-distance relationship even worth considering when a local author has been frequenting the library where she works and is proving to be a perfectly fine gentleman?

In this epistolary novel from award-winning author Pepper Basham, bookish dreams and happily-ever-afters collide to create a beautiful sort of magic that’s even better than fiction.

When her meddling cousin creates an online dating account for her, Izzy finds a man who might be bookish enough to win her heart.

My face hurt from reading this book because I could not stop smiling. It was sweet, adorable, touching, and very bookish. This charming and heartwarming tale won me over, and below are several aspects of the story that really made it a wonderful experience for me.

What I Liked

  • I am a fan of epistolary novels, and I thought Basham did a nice job connecting me to the events I did not get to be part of in real-time as well as creating a cohesive narrative and helping me get to know all these fantastic characters. The exchanges between Izzy and Brodie were precious. Those two fit together perfectly, and the emails and texts between Izzy and her cousins were hilarious.
  • So much book nerdy goodness! Classics readers will truly adore the bookish filled banter, but I think all book nerds will be able to lose themselves in the exchanges between Izzy and Brodie. They were some serious book lovers.
  • I could feel the love and affection all these people had for each other. The relationships between Izzy, Brodie, and their family members were so warm and lovely. Izzy might have wrestled with her place in the Edgewood clan, but that came from inside her, not from her family who took her in after her parents passed away and fully claimed her as their own.

Packed with quirky and lovable characters, tons of humor, and a multitude of bookish references, I had a fantastic time getting to know Izzy as she fell in love, figured out her future, and discovered her authentic self.


Would you consider yourself a book matchmaker?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. We Are the Light sounds really, really good. I've seen that one around but didn't really know anything about it before your review.

    1. I enjoy Quick's books, and this was really well done. I feel like everyone only talks about Silver Linings, but he has a lot of good books.

  2. I am so intrigued by We Are the Light. I feel like it would destroy me... but be totally worth it.

    1. It's not always an easy read, but it's ultimately hopeful and speaks to our humanity.

  3. Oh, my goodness, Authentically, Izzy sounds so wonderful! It had me at "wannabe bookstore owner."

    1. I could not resist Izzy's bookish dream. It was a fun and lovely story

  4. We are the Light is one I've had on my radar for a while. I've heard it's a difficult read but definitely worth it so I'm glad to hear how much you loved it.

    1. It's about a shooting and a man in a mental health crisis but there's a lot of funny and beautiful moments in there, and the focus is on healing

  5. One full of emotions and pain and one that made you simle ;-)