Review: Late Lights by Kara Weiss

I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Kara Weiss’s Late Lights. Thanks to TLC Book Tours for supplying me with a review copy. This tour began July 15 and finishes up August 12; be sure to check out the complete tour schedule and read the reviews posted on other stops!

Title: Late Lights
Author: Kara Weiss
Publisher: Colony Collapse Press
Released: June 13, 2013
Source: publisher (TLC Book Tours)

Synopsis (from publisher):

After spending his teens in juvenile detention, Monty is released to find he has nowhere to turn except back to the friends of his youth. But neither BJ nor Erin know how to have him in their lives anymore. As kids, BJ and Monty shared the anguish of being forgotten children, playing basketball and wandering the streets, but BJ has since aged out of her tomboy persona and into a sexually-confused woman in an adult body she doesn’t understand, particularly when Monty is the first guy to view her as a woman. Although Erin Broder never gave up on her friendship with Monty, she doesn’t know where he fits into her upward-bound life, which is filled with professional parents, varsity track, and an Ivy League destiny. To the Broder family, young Monty was a charity case, a kid from the wrong side of Tremont Street, a novelty friend they hoped Erin would outgrow. So what happens when she doesn’t? With sharp language and unflinching honesty, Kara Weiss depicts a complex reality where adolescent friendship is less like a two-way street, more like a six-way interchange with broken signals.
Late Lights begins in a dreary, dark place with a sliver of hope. Just a tiny sliver, one that is constantly under threat of being snatched away.

Monty really wants to change his life, but every single odd is against him. The complete lack of love or concern Monty receives from his father had me feeling so downtrodden, I briefly thought maybe Monty would have been better off staying in juvie. Then I felt appalled at myself for thinking that way, because there were some horrific conditions there (be warned). So I ended up feeling suffocated by how impossible his situation seemed.

Monty is heartbreakingly aware of the privilege of others as he walks, in worn shoes that no longer fit, through his friend’s neighborhood: “A stiff frozen snow topped the roofs of homeowners’ second and third cars, the ones not often used.”
I found myself pleading for Monty. Cheering him on. No matter how little he had to work with, he continued to try to escape the path his life seemed to be taking. I latched on to every hopeful opportunity that came his way.

But I didn’t really connect with the ending, which felt somewhat vague. Part of it was due to the choice of character the author decided to end with. Though all of the characters’ stories are intertwined, for me, the impact of this book is created by Monty and his experiences. The others, although compelling for different reasons, felt secondary. I just wanted to get back to Monty and find out how he was doing.

Regardless, Late Lights is a powerful novella about childhood friendships and how time – especially time spent apart – affects those relationships as we mature into adults.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.