Book Review: The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

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★ ★ ★ ★

The Sunlight Pilgrims is set in November of 2020 in a small Scottish community during an environmental crisis where the economic collapses, bodies are found frozen in the street with their eyes open, and things such as schooling and health care are run primarily on a voluntary basis. It follows two main characters; Dylan, who is grieving the loss of his mother and grandmother, but ready to build a new life, so he heads north to bury their ashes in the Scottish islands where they once lived. Then there is Stella, who lives hundreds of miles away with her survivalist mother, Constance, as they prepare for a record-breaking winter while living out of a caravan. Eventually the characters meet as life changes course for all of them, just as the ultimate disaster strikes. The story is unique, the characters are quirky, and it sounds like it’s going to be a solid read.

While not disclosed in the synopsis, the novel deals with important topics such as grief, gender identity, transformation, bullying, global warming, and much more when it comes to very real situations going on in the world.

The ice age isn’t exactly the main focus in the book, but more so a backdrop as the characters go about their lives, and their stories are told. It definitely does add another element, and obstacle for all those who are living through the crisis. One being Stella, who is a twelve-year-old transgender girl dealing with a lot between sexual identity and bullying, on top of the difficulty when it comes to lack of treatment and proper care because of the disaster.

I really enjoyed this, and that multiple story-lines when it came to the characters, who were quite unique in their own personalities. There is a connection between the reader and characters who you will admire throughout this book. It was intriguing, and this book was beautifully written. The only negative I have is in regards to the dialogue format because you kind of have to figure out on your own who is saying what. Otherwise I thought this was a great read, and not at all what I expected.

Synopsis

It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.

Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they’ll all be ready.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Hogarth

Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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