The Light Jar

The Light Jar
Age Range
Release Date
February 26, 2019
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Nate and his mother are running away. Fleeing from an emotionally abusive situation, they hide out in an abandoned cottage in the middle of a forest. Though it's old and run-down, at least it's a place of their own.

Then Nate's mother heads off for groceries and doesn't return. Has she run into trouble, or simply abandoned him? He is left alone and afraid, with the dark closing in on him.

But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places: like a strange girl trying to solve the mystery of a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Will Nate find the bravery he needs to face down his fears, survive on his own, and ultimately illuminate his future?

The Light Jar is a captivating story of fear and hope, loneliness and friendship, and finding the light within, even in the darkest of times.

Editor review

1 review
Creepy tale with deeper layers
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Nate and his mother leave their home in the middle of the night to get away from Gary, an emotionally abusive boyfriend. At first, Nate thinks that they are going to stay with his grandmother, but she and his mother are not on great terms. The two end up in a very run down cottage belonging to a deceased friend of the grandmother's, far off in the woods. Nate settles in, and his mother goes to get some groceries. It takes her longer than he expects, and the imaginary friend from his childhood, Sam, shows up and is rather helpful. He also meets Kitty, who lives in a the large manor house on the property. Kitty is trying to solve a treasure map that her aunt was not able to solve because she had a fatal asthma attack as a child. Nate's concern over his mother grows as the time passes, but he talks to Sam about his life with his father (who left when he was small) and Gary. He also helps Kitty with the search for the treasure, and manages to feed and warm himself in the chilly cottage. Just when Nate's worry motivates him to go to contact his grandmother, secrets about his own life and Kitty's emerge, and he is able to save the day.
Good Points
This had some very intriguing moments. It has the abusive step parent so prevalent in British tween literature, which my students find fascinating, but also has abandonment in a cottage, a historical secret, and an interesting take on imaginary friends. I'm not usually a fan, but Sam really worked well in this novel. Kitty's plight had deeper and deeper layers, and I don't want to ruin the fantastic twist at the ending. The happy ending also had a lot of supportive family. Really enjoyed this one!

This has some extra layers with Kitty's family mystery and with Sam, and the British setting, coupled with the nicely creepy cover, will entice students to pick it up.

This will do well with readers who creepy and somewhat odd stories like Currie's The House of Shady Street, Oh's Spirit Hunters, and Hahn's The Girl in the Locked Room.
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