"A luminous read that will rekindle your faith in the indomitable human spirit." -- Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook
"An inspiring, romantic novel full of redemption and hope." -- Mitali Perkins, author of You Bring the Distant Near
When Viola Li returns from a trip, she 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 spaceship-sized hat. She has to avoid all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat.
Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He's a funny, talented Thor look-alike with his own mysterious grief. But their romance makes her take 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.
Everything begins at a bake sale. Viola is peddling red bean baos for a worthy cause, and chatting with an attractive boy, when she has a dizzy spell and faints. She wakes up in the hospital only to find out she has contracted a rare case of photosensitivity; her skin can no longer tolerate light. Viola's life literally changes overnight: her wardrobe is replaced with special UVA protective clothing; she must always wear a hat, and even more humiliating, carry an umbrella; lights in the house are dimmed and covered. As her condition worsens, Viola fears her dreams of becoming a journalist and her hopes of pursuing a relationship with Josh, the boy she met at the bake sale, will dim like a setting sun. In a novel about love, disappointment, and fighting the odds, Chen (North of Beautiful) convincingly evokes not only Viola's physical discomfort but also the emotional impact of living with an incurable disease. Viola's parents' despair, her sister's frustration, and Josh's fear that he will somehow bring harm to Viola are delineated equally well. No matter the darkness of the subject, Chen provides glimmers of hope as she reveals Viola's battle to reclaim a form of normalcy. Ages 12 18.