Imagine being allergic to light–from the sun to even your phone screen.
A terrible fate, right? But that’s exactly what happens to Viola Li after she returns from a trip abroad and suddenly develops an extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight.
A spaceship-sized hat isn’t enough for Viola’s parents–they’re making her stay away from all hint of light. No windows or going outdoors, even in the moonlight. But Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, especially after the funny, talented Thor-look-alike Josh enters her life.
But the intensity of their romance makes Viola do riskier things, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.
Doesn’t this book sound so cool? If it does (& even if it doesn’t), read on because I’ve got Ten Reasons Why You Should Read Lovely, Dark, and Deep straight from the author, as well as a review for this awesome book!
There’s also a giveaway for the blog tour at the end of the post, so you definitely want to stick around for that too! So, to start us off, if you’re not hooked already, here’s Justina Chen’s
Ten Reasons Why You Should Read Lovely, Dark, and Deep
1. If you need the lift of hope in your life.
2. If you want to believe in love—real, enduring, unconditional love.
3. If you want to see what true friendship looks like in action.
4. If you need to learn how to sass the world.
5. If your parents are overprotective.
6. If you have a little sister or brother who is maddeningly entitled.
7. If you feel stuck and Option B seems impossible.
8. If you love to eat, cook, bake, dream of food. (!!!)
9. If you ache with wanderlust.
10. If you want to fall in love.
If #8 wasn’t enough to convince you to read this, I don’t know what will. All the baked goods made me drool over this book. Mmm…
This book is definitely worth the read, and I have it on good authority (aka mine) that the overprotective parent thing is ON POINT. Yet, if you’re odds-defying and somehow not convinced to read, then I’ve got one last secret weapon to convince you to pick this up (and really, why haven’t you already?): my review.
I really enjoyed reading Lovely, Dark, and Deep!
It’s a really good young adult novel for the younger YA readers (although it doesn’t mean older readers can’t appreciate it either) and something I wish I had available to read when I was a tween going on teen looking for books that weren’t VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE to read.
Viola and her struggles are super relatable. As an Asian-American teen, I felt like this was such a good representation of one end of the Asian parent scale–parents might not be super school-focused, but they can be so overprotective.
And Viola’s parents aren’t even that unbelievable. They’re a tad exaggerated due to their crisis-managing job, but a lot of what they did is exactly what my parents would do if I was in the same situation.
I did think Viola was a little immature and a bit young, but her youth makes it more accurate as she’s not the super mature adult-acting teenager that’s never like real life but somehow permeates the young adult genre.
YA is filled with characters who are basically grown ups in teen bodies (especially with things like fantasy) and it makes our expectations on how to act unrealistic. But I feel like Viola is a really solid representation of what teens really are like. We care too much about school and college and we don’t go on adventures in crazy places and we’re a little silly and immature sometimes.
I thought the whole photosensitivity premise was really cool and I actually liked how Chen wrapped up the whole book and the photosensitivity part. The way Viola takes charge and in the place Chen finishes the story has a lot of meaning and it’s one of the only contemporary endings that I felt like suited the book.
There were two things I wasn’t really keen on. One was Viola’s passion to be a journalist abroad. I just didn’t find her journalism desires to feel grounded or explained enough, and I continuously wondered why she wanted to go into journalism. If what I read of Viola & her journalism desires was a college essay, I would have denied her because I just didn’t understand where her passion really came from.
It felt like the same few justifications were being repeated, and I wish Chen went a little more in-depth with that.
The other thing I wasn’t super into was some of the intercharacter relationships, specifically the one with Josh. I wasn’t really into Josh and he felt kind of bland to me. It was more like Josh was a plot point rather than a romantic-interest character. So a really great coming of age story, but a meh romance is what I’m really trying to say.
I also kind of wish some of the other character relationships were expanded on more, but it is a short book and would have taken the focus off of Viola, so I understand why they weren’t more hashed out.
Overall though, I think this was a really strong read with a relatable and age-appropriate main character and a heartwarming coming-of-age. Definitely recommend to contemporary fans (especially if you like reading about baked goods…)
More About the Book
What would you do if the sun became your enemy?
That’s exactly what happens to Viola Li after she returns from a trip abroad and develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and a hat the size of a spaceship. She has to stay away from all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat when its screen burns her.
Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike who carries his own mysterious grief. But the intensity of their romance makes her take more and more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.
Praise for LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP
“A luminous read that will rekindle your faith in the indomitable human spirit and make you want to spend more time in starlight.” ―Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook and Every Exquisite Thing
“Viola’s story explores one of life’s big questions: are we defined by our losses or will we allow them to lead us into an even more meaningful hero’s journey? In Lovely, Dark, and Deep,Justina Chen has crafted an inspiring, romantic novel full of redemption and hope for teens and adults alike.” ―Mitali Perkins, author of You Bring the Distant Near
More About the Author
Storytelling runs in Justina Chen’s blood. After all, her middle name means illuminate, which is what story does: it throws light on a message.
Justina is an award-winning author of six books for young adults. Her forthcoming novel, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, will be available in Spring, 2018. Her most recent book, A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS, is on a Booklist Top 10 list. NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL was named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and was a finalist of 9 state book awards. And her debut novel, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES), won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.
In addition to being a writer, Justina is a story strategist to leaders and co-founder of Chen & Cragen, a boutique communications agency that transforms good executives into extraordinary leaders. Seen as a thought leader in communications, the Rockefeller Foundation invited Justina to be part of their twelve-person convening on storytelling for social good, along with CNN, BBC, NPR, and Google. Translation: she got to spend some quality time with amazing storytellers on the shores of Lake Bellagio.
A passionate advocate of literacy, Justina also co-founded readergirlz, a cutting-edge social media project for teens, which was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Prize for Innovations in Reading. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University where she won the Dean’s Award for Service.
Justina has lived in Sydney and Shanghai, but calls Seattle her home.
Want to try your luck at winning a copy of Lovely, Dark, and Deep? (Because you know you want it…) Enter through the Rafflecopter below for the giveaway where three lucky winners will receive an ARC of Lovely, Dark, and Deep as well as a mini tealight lantern! (INTL, 13+) Or, if you’re not willing to risk it, you can use any of the buy links under “More About this Book” to buy your own copy!
Thank you so much to Justina Chen & Jean Book Nerd for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review as part of this blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops below!