“You’ll never regret a decision more than the one you make out of fear. Fear tells you to make your life small. Fear tells you to think small. Fear tells you to be small-hearted. Fear seeks to preserve itself, and the bigger you let your life and perspective and heart get, the less air you give fear to survive.”


Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen.

But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he would have to leave behind.

From the award-winning author of The Serpent King comes a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.


This is a story you have read hundreds of times before.
But, this is not a book you have ever read nor will it be one you will ever read again.

Jeff Zentner is now officially my new favorite author. He managed to tell the worn tale of a new kid at a new school at war with himself and his feelings with a dying loved one at home with insight and meticulousness and care that exudes out of the pages. Every chapter is filled with wisdom told through Cash’s voice but from Zentner’s life. Every word, every letter has purpose, holds meaning.

There are very few books that manage to speak to me, to listen to me, through their words. Zentner’s In the Wild Light is one such book. I have experienced loss lately and have been walking through life like a zombie lately – seeing, doing, but not living. Zentner’s voice washed over be, touching my soul in all the right places, telling me it’s okay, hugging me because I needed to be held, showing me the beauty in life, even now.

“You are not a creature of grief. You are not a congregation of wounds. You are not the sum of your losses. Your skin is not your scars. Your life is yours, and it can be new and wondrous. Remember that.”

Cash is struggling in life: his Pawpaw is dying, his best friend is moving on to bigger and better things, and he’s now at an elite prep school where he just doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t know his place or purpose, and can’t seem to catch a break.

But sometimes light is found in the darkest places. And Cash’s light is poetry.

I have never been the biggest fan of poetry, but lately it just keep popping into my life (maybe the world it trying to tell me something)in the weirdest of places.

Cash’s character is so ultimately relatable. He refuses to make rash decisions (like most YA characters) and his struggles are like sinking deep into my own mind.

I envy you. I envy you because you will be able to read this book for the first time. But I envy me too. I envy me because I will never be the same after reading this book.

38 thoughts on “In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner”

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