Author: Emily Gale
Publisher: Random House
I Am Out with Lanterns is a fresh, multifaceted and funny novel. The story is told from multiple perspectives. It follows a medley of characters as it explores bullying, friendship, family, love, community and the yearning to belong and be accepted.
Gale imitates life in this book which I think is why it resonates so hard with you when you read it. The lives of Wren, Adie, Ben, Juliet, Hari intersect in ways that are both sad and beautiful. Like real life, their lives are like a roller-coaster, one moment riding a high and the next a low.
Gale’s writing is nuanced and vibrant and her weaving of so many characters together shows exceptional writing skill. There were times when I felt she was bringing too many diverse aspects to the table in one book, but I let that slide and understood that this was what the book was about, characters who show us that life is not black and white, that for most us life is filled with all different colours – a kaleidoscope of colours.
The grieving Wren who is cynical and sarcastic but yet also vulnerable. The lonely outsider Juliet who comes from a loving and supportive family. Juliet may have been my favourite character with her quirky sense of humour and her passion for literature. Milo who is compassionate, funny, smart and autistic. Hari who shows enormous strength, confidence and maturity for someone so young. And of course, Ben the villain. We hear from Ben and we realise that sometimes bullies are just that, bullies. We will always live in a world where individuals will be thoughtless, cruel and careless with other peoples’ lives and feelings. I love that Gale didn’t let Ben off the hook. Yes, he has difficulties in life but nothing that should allow him to behave the way he does in this story.
Gale has shown extraordinary restraint and yet still managed to weave together a plot that is sophisticated and relies heavily on chance and the randomness of life. The book has great lessons, but it also has great warmth, humour and charm. You will fall in love with Gale’s characters and when the book ends you will wonder and mused about the characters for days.
I Am Out with Lanterns is a book that will linger with you long after you read it because it is a book of hope and love. Defiantly diverse and original this is a book that is a must-read.