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Review: The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me in exchange for this review through the program Blogging for Books

What initially drew me to The Sunlight Pilgrims was its almost apocalyptic setting: in 2020 the world is freezing over everywhere. The novel follows an eclectic cast of characters with Dylan, Stella, and Constance at the heart of the plot. When the world is freezing over, who will you spend your last days with? The cast of misfits reminds us that the end of the world or the next Ice Age does not occur overnight, and instead takes place a little more each day. That even at the heart of the end of the world, our human hearts remain mostly unchanged (while still balancing the hope of humanity’s redemption). This book is not a typical tale about the end of the world, one of adventure and fear. It is the slow encroaching iceberg of fate and the steady approach of the inevitable.

While I thought I would be most intrigued by Constance, Stella’s brave and nontraditional mother, I was most fascinated by Stella’s internal monologues. She offers a change of narration: that of a transitioning girl. The eloquent and challenging ways Stella talks about her transition, her body, and her life ground the story in a world of reality. Even when the impossible seems to be happening and the temperatures are falling to minus fifty, there is still a sense of real conflict. What else can they do but live their lives? It is in Stella’s perspective that I found some of the most touching writing. In general, I was fascinated by the lyrical quality of the writing. So many of my notes are highlighted from the beautiful writing, there are moments of introspective wisdom, dark humor, and entrancing word play.

The ending of the novel is almost comically ironic and leaves the future of its cast in the air. Letting the question of their survival hang in the control of the reader. While I was expecting a novel of intense fear and doomsday preparation, I was greeted by a cast of charming characters who illustrated to me that in the face of the end, we still have our family problems, our crisis of identity, and our search for a hand to hold. The Sunlight Pilgrims will be released on July 19th (next week!) and I would strongly encourage you to pick up a copy if any part of this review intrigued you, I did not regret it. You can buy you copy here (not an affiliate link)

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Cover image from the Blogging for Books website

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