Category: Books

Things people have said about This Raging Light!

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Winter 2015-2016 Kids’ Indie Next Pick!

“Readers finding themselves with increasingly mature accountabilities will appreciate Laure emboldening Lucille with a savvy resilience that withstands the pressures from adult authority, even while learning the invaluable life lesson that we are all in this together.”
—Booklist

“I loved this book. I was torn between wanting to devour it in one breathless read and needing to stop and savor each gorgeous turn of phrase. This is a remarkable debut.”
—Morgan Matson, author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Since You’ve Been Gone

“This Raging Light is a funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise sometimes.”
—Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Geography of You and Me

“Estelle Laure writes with power and lyricism—but more than that, she writes honestly from the heart. Definitely a writer to watch!”
—A.M. Jenkins, Printz Honor winning author of Repossessed

“With This Raging Light, Estelle Laure establishes herself as a literary heavyweight. Laure’s characters mimic her writing, at once visceral and brave, unafraid to confront love in its every facet—surprising, surpassing, flawed. This book is a thick quilt in a cold room, and I want to wrap myself in it.”
—David Arnold, author of Mosquitoland

“[Laure] has a raw, authentic voice and a passion for storytelling.”
—Matt de la Peña, Pura Belprée honoree and award-winning YA novelist of The Living and Mexican WhiteBoy

 

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“Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light might be YA, but it’s got plenty of grown-up appeal.”
—entertainmentweekly.com

“A heartbreakingly hopeful, lyrically told exploration of the abandoned children-selfish parents trope.”
—Kirkus

“In an assured debut, Laure gives Lucille a fierce stubbornness that keeps her going. . . The characters are well drawn, and Laure effectively depicts the adrenaline rush of love.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This Raging Light is a funny, heartwrenching, and soulful read as Lucille develops her own personal family, bloodline or not. It’s not one you’ll soon forget.”
—Bustle

“Estelle Laure’s prose is utterly gorgeous, even as it lays out the story of a girl dealing with the failings of her parents, death, and her own insecurities.”
—BookRiot

“Lucille’s fresh, first-person voice spills over with metaphor, poetically capturing her emotional landscape with force and fury, frantic love and absolute exhaustion.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Laure’s debut is brilliant and not to be missed.”
—RT Book Reviews

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“Lucille may not take down a beast or assassinate any super bads, but she’s what heroines look like and love like in real life.”
—Justine magazine

“Laure captures the desperation for acceptance on a variety of levels in this poetic, heartbreaking read that will resonate with teens.”
—BookPage online

“The narrative rings authentic, especially as Lucille wrestles with romantic pangs. Thankfully, there’s enough wry humor to balance the worry and poignancy. Above all, you’ll love steadfast Lucille and keep caring about what comes next.”
—Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Lucille is a steel-strong, deeply human heroine fighting against impossible odds.”
—BNTEENblog

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how my year of reading women starts out with a bang

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Someone loaned me this novel during a dinner, after finding out I was reading women exclusively for a year. “Take your time with it,” he said. “But not too long.”

I moved it to the top of my pile.

I love Cormac McCarthy. I love William Faulkner. I sharpened my carnivorous reading teeth on Stephen King as a mere tot. I am no literary wuss. I am okay with darkness.

I’m telling you right now, this novel makes Blood Meridian look like a delightful frolic on a breezy spring day in a field of flowers with white ponies and balloons. It makes The Shining look like Goodnight Moon. 

Do not read it if you can’t stomach some horrible human truths, if you can’t process gruesome imagery. The documentary style fiction mash-up, while not pretty, is gorgeously skilled (Kudos to her translator Ellen Elias-Bursac as well). I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between what she had made up and the actual historical files she provided about the Holocaust.

As I tried to wrap my head around her approach, I kept thinking I needed to read on and if I could just get past the horrendous passage I was reading, I would be okay because surely she would backth-2 off and give me a breather. There are no breathers. Dasa Drndic is relentless, unapologetic, death-metal-hardcore-grinding gears-type writing (I mean, just look at her). Not. For. Ninnies. Not for anyone who would rather not face the horrors of the Holocaust without frill, without emotion, certainly sans sentimental hedging.  She doesn’t mince words when it comes to the Catholic Church, the Red Cross, and Switzerland, just for a start.

I learned too much. I writhed as I read. I prayed vigorously never to find myself on this woman’s bad side.

Halfway through reading I looked up and said to no one in particular, “He hates me.” I was speaking of the man who gave me the book. Why would anyone subject someone they like to this?

And then I was done.

As unpleasant as the reading of this novel is, everyone should have to do it, or at least apprehend the importance of the facts contained within its pages. I’m guilty of shying away from Holocaust stories, of saying I’ve seen too much, I’ve read too many. But not like this. This one looks at it square. So get ready to have your eyelids cranked open a la Clockwork Orange. It’s such a ride, and with the most solid of hands at the wheel.    

TRL in Taos Style

This Raging Light, an Interview from taoStyle

Estelle Laure and I met for a coffee late last week to talk about her life in Taos since signing a two-book deal with a prestigious Publishing House.

“Elizabeth Bewley at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers preempted North American rights to Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light, in a mid-six-figure, two-book, deal. Emily Van Beek at Folio Junior/Folio Literary Management represented the debut author. The novel follows a teenager and her younger sister as they try to deal with their mother’s sudden disappearance. Things become further complicated when older sister Lucille falls for her best friend’s brother. The publisher said the book is a “luminous portrait” of two young girls enduring hardship. Laure lives in New Mexico and received an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts; Light is set for fall 2015.” ( Publishers Weekly June 2014)

Estelle or Starlet as I know her, by virtue of being a close friend of the uncle who bestowed the nickname, was born at Versailles and spent her childhood in Paris and London before coming to the States. After her parents went their separate ways, her mother came to Taos to start a business for her father who planned to move here upon his retirement.

Estelle’s grandfather, Ambassador William Eagleton met his first wife in Paris, where her father was the American Architect William Welles Bosworth, who had done the restorations on the Palace at Versailles during the 20’s.

Bill Eagleton and Francoise had five children. Dhyana, Estelle’s mother was the only daughter born to the two of them. When they separated, Francoise put herself through Medical School, five kids and all, and went on to become a Harley Street Surgeon.

Eagleton had spent time in Morocco during the late 40’s and 50’s and continued to maintain a residence there all his life with his second wife Kay, with whom he had three more children, one of them, another daughter. His bachelor apartment was passed on to the great American ex-pat writer, Paul Bowles. Bowles kept that flat until he died and the two men remained lifelong friends.

Bill Eagleton was one of the most interesting men of our time. One of the world’s foremost Arabists, a career diplomat, he came to the fore during the Kennedy years and worked for the State Department for the rest of his life. As well as Bowles, he counted among his close friends, the actress Ava Gardner. Famous friends aside, he dedicated much of his life to righting the wrongs of history toward the Kurds. He also collected Kurdish and other rare tribal carpets and had appointed his oldest daughter to open a rug shop in Taos in order to get a business going before his imminent arrival.

Dhyana arrived in Taos with her two kids in time for them to go to Taos High School and installed Bill’s lifetime collection of carpets in a shop on Bent Street aptly named Flying Carpet. When he and Kay arrived, she and her children were already a part of the community. His other children began to visit, a couple of them lived here for awhile but Bill found himself pulled out of his retirement more than once after finally settling in Taos. His expertise in many of the world’s hottest spots was too valuable an asset for him to be let go of that easily.

Little wonder then, given her illustrious and colourful family background, that Estelle has emerged from her own marital breakup, two children later, as a young writer to watch. Her day job as assistant to Emily Van Beek, the Agent who also happens to be her Literary Agent, takes up much of her time but that’s not stopping her from working on her next book.

“I could give up the job but I feel it’s a privilege to be on both sides of the desk,” she tells me.

She loves the Young Adult genre she’s working in, remembering how books were such a comfort to her during those uncertain years and believes that children’s literature period, remains a very important factor in childhood developement.

The book has been sold in twelve countries and is bound to be hugely succesful. She says the pressure is on but she doesn’t let it get to her. She’s going at a comfortable pace, making sure all she has on her plate, stays there. I have no doubt that it will. This beautiful, brilliant young woman has a personal history of dedication and discipline. An incredibly talented actress, Estelle got her degree in Drama at the University of New Mexico in Los Cruces, before working at the infamous Fred’s Place here in Taos for a couple of years. Most who have known her since then believed she’d go into Acting as a profession.

Fate intervened and she met the father of her children. They moved to the East Coast and she eventually returned to school for her Masters once their kids were old enough for her to expand her horizons a bit.

Back in Taos with her two kids, unfazed by the attention, the six figure advance and all the fuss, Starlet arrived for our chat with her son (who wasn’t feeling well) in tow, on her way to pick up her daughter from school.

Dressed in sweatpants, devoid of makeup, hair pulled up in a messy ponytail, she looked like a lot of other young Taos moms on duty and that’s the way she likes it. Taos is where she is free to be exactly who she is with no pretension and no one to impress. She’s home.

“I love Taos,” she says, ” all my friends are here, people who I’ve known since High School, we have kids now, we’re older, but it’s still a close-knit group. I feel so lucky.”

As we got ready to leave the cafe where we met, we exchanged small talk about our families and such, before heading out into the cold, when she stopped before going out the door and turned to me.

“You know Taos is a remarkable place, I think it’s the only place on earth where nobody judges you in terms of your monetary worth or what you do.”

“Here,” she noted, “it’s more about, how creative are you?”