“I Am the Light of This World” Book Review

This book’s jacket blurb has it described as a ‘gut punch of a novel.’ There were definitely some grim moments where I noticed my stomach turning, but I wouldn’t necessarily label it in this way.

“I Am the Light of This World” by Michael Parker is narrated by Earl, a teenager from Texas in the 1970s whose fate is completely upended when he travels to Austin with his girlfriend. After a wild couple of days filled with some major debauchery, his girlfriend has gone missing, and his trunk is filled with her blood. Plus, it seems he can’t quite remember what took place. It’s a great set-up but the novel wasn’t written in a way that felt cohesive to me. There’s a lot of jumping back and forth in time in the first half of the book, which takes the reader away from the action in some places. Some of the scenes are pretty graphic too, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

There were some elements of the story that I thought were intriguing. Earl has a completely unique mind (possibly on the autism spectrum?), so the way he views the world is interesting and makes him both an unreliable but quirky narrator. It was difficult at first to get used to the fractured thoughts and tangents, but eventually, I respected the way Parker decided to create such a different character. I did also appreciate how the story followed a large chunk of Earl’s life so we can see where he ended up after some decades have passed.

This would have a been a four-star read for me but then…I read the end. I absolutely hated the ending of this book. There was too much ambiguity, and I was left with way more questions than answers. I’m not sure whether the plot holes that weren’t tied up was an intentional choice or not. I closed the book and just felt this utter frustration that I had spent time invested in this story for it to end up this way. I don’t think I’d recommend this book to anyone because of this.

3 stars

*Free ARC provided by Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*


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