Reviews ofThe Memory of Light and the Passenger

Welcome to Mini-Reviews: more reviews in one post! Today I'm reviewing a new YA by a favorite author of mine and an adult thriller. 

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

Published on January 26, 2016
by Arthur A. Levine Books

Source: bought

Synopsis of The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive. That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. 

With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. 

And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.

My Review of the Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

The Memory of Light is a thoughtful, quietly moving book about depression. After Vicky's suicide attempt, she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital. 

This book does a great job of highlighting the complicated factors (environmental, behavioral and genetic) that contribute to mental illness and the equally complicated ways to try to treat it. 

In the hospital, Vicky becomes close with three other teenage patients, all with different issues and challenges. I also liked that the book followed Vicky out of the hospital and through the challenges of reintegrating herself into her old life. 
This is a great read for parents of teens as well - though Vicky's father and stepmother often come across as the villains here, I was quite sympathetic to them and their well-meaning -- though sometimes misguided --attempts to help her. 
I'm sure that watching a loved one struggle with depression can be heartbreaking and frustrating, and the book makes it clear that there is no magic, one-size-fits-all cure.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

To be published on March 1, 2016
by Simon & Schuster

Source: eARC for review from publisher

Synopsis of the Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time. She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born. It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

Review of The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

From the beginning, the main character tells us that her husband has died and that she's afraid that she'll be blamed, so she's going on the lam. And boy, does she. 

She cycles through a huge number of fake personas and criss-crosses her way around the country, dyeing and re-dyeing her hair, stealing IDs and identities, buying and discarding burner phones and .... let's just say that in trying to escape trouble, she creates more and more trouble for herself.

While it's not a requirement in a thriller that the reader have sympathy for the main character, I do think it makes for a better reading experience. However, it also seems to me that thrillers with Unsympathetic Girl protagonists (Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo etc.) are becoming a Thing and I don't have a problem with that. I'm all for equality! 

But it was hard to relate to her or understand this character's choices and motivations. Her default mode is flight: she just runs and runs and runs. But it's definitely a wild and entertaining ride to see how she constantly reinvents herself.

I think thriller readers who aren't bothered by moral ambiguity and don't mind a long wait for explanations will enjoy this.

If you enjoy books like this, check out this post on Books About Female Con Artists!

Have you read either of these? Tell me what you thought!


  1. I haven't read either of those, but tbh, the second one doesn't really appeal to me too much? I DO like thrillers, but I stick to the YA ones. XD I have trouble relating to the thrillery-adult-characters otherwise. Ohhhh but the first one sounds really good. SAD. But good? And I'm loving that it underlines the "not one cure for everything", because I think that rarely comes up in mental illness books??

    1. Yes, I really liked The Memory of Light. It focuses on what is surely the hard/complex part of depression/mental illness -- figuring out how to live with it.

  2. I'm curious about The Passenger, have seen a few reviews now and I'm intrigued. Moral ambiguity- I guess I'm still deciding if I like that since thrillers like this aren't my usual go to but I've been reading more of them. I think I might give this one a try, it sounds interesting.

    1. I like moral ambiguity but still would have loved to understand this character a little better!

  3. The Memory of Light sounds like my type of read. I'm getting addicted to suicide books lately (good thing or bad thing? doesn't matter, I guess). I'm also quite interested to try out The Passenger. I read and love The Girl on the Train, so maybe I'll enjoy this as well :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

  4. In The Passenger, the MC sounds really unlikable, although I totally know what you mean about that trend. I guess I don't mind that much because of the choices that they make. The Memory of Light actually hits close to home, it sounds like it was dealt with in a realistic manner. Lovely reviews Jen!

  5. I have The Passenger to get to. I think it sounds like something I will like (hopefully!) Great reviews!

  6. Thought ful and moving sounds like its right up my alley for memory of light esp since dealing with depression

  7. The memory of Light sounds like a great read to me.
    If I'll have a chance, I'll defenitely give that one a try!

    I like your reviews. They are short but full of informations.


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