________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 39 . . . . June 12, 2015


Light of Day.

Allison Van Diepen.
New York, NY: HarperTeen (Distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Canada), 2015.
309 pp., trade pbk. & Ebook, $17.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-0-06-230347-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-06-230349-3 (Ebook).

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Wendy Phillips.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


Last night’s revelations washed over me. I’d actually mistaken a member of a street gang for one of Miami’s finest. That was a mistake for the record books. Way to go, Gabby.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for thinking he was a cop. He’d used words like “cover” and “tailing,” hadn’t he? And when I’d met him, he’d been surveiling Raul. What other conclusion could I have come to?

My initial instincts about X had been right. He looked dangerous because he was dangerous. I couldn’t slot him into the safe cop category anymore.

It didn’t matter, I told myself. Cop or gang member, I didn’t care who was helping Bree as long as they were helping her. The Destinos could do things the police wouldn’t do. Cross lines the police wouldn’t cross.

Saving Bree was all that mattered.



After 17-year-old Gabby Perez narrowly escapes being drugged and kidnapped in a nightclub, she sets off a chain of events that shine a light on the dark underbelly of Miami’s street life. Using her popular night radio talk show as a platform and teaming up with a mysterious stranger she knows only as X, Gabby scours the seedy streets of the city, determined to save a missing school friend and expose a gang who are drugging and kidnapping innocent girls. As Gabby and X uncover layers of truth in their search, they are irresistibly drawn to each other. Their powerful mutual attraction is challenged by the vast difference in their worlds – and by the violence that plagues the city streets.

     Author Allison Van Diepen sets her novel in the same world as her previous book, On the Edge. The setting is atmospheric, with the warmth of wind-whipped palm trees contrasting with the crime-ridden streets. Gabby’s job as a late-night radio host adds a dark and mellow quality to the world. She lives for the thrill of the airwaves and shares her deepest personal secrets with her listeners. Her audience loves her. But the novel is still a book about high school drama, and she has to deal with jealousy, a resentful ex-boyfriend and a posse of mean girls in her high school life. The novel makes a point about true friendship and social connection. A social pariah because she dumped the most popular boy in school, Gabby carves out a social circle with a trio of oddballs from the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Club. These quirky and humourous characters have her back and include her in their bizarre entertainment, and she soon learns that they are far more true than her previous A-list crowd.

     Light of Day is a fast moving read, with lots of action related in the sassy, snappy voice of the main character. The kissing scenes are passionate, and the love story moves along in a way that will appeal to teen readers. As a fantasy lover, X cuts a fine figure. As a literary character, he is usually too good to be true, appearing around the corner superhero-like at every crisis, a badboy gangster with a heart of gold. Even his dark secret is not nearly as dark as the foreshadowing suggests. He never falters in his role as dark (shining) knight. Gabby is swept off her feet with immediate attraction, and though some teens may enjoy the intensity, more mature readers may wish for more complexity than the mutual insta-love that overcomes them.

     Gabby does change and develop. She learns valuable lessons in the course of finding, fighting and surviving being targeted by a scary bad-guy gang. She learns the value of true friendship, and to appreciate the care and concern of her family, especially when learning from X how bad families can be. She also learns to look below the surface of people and discovers, to her chagrin, that many of her assumptions are skewed.

     Light of Day will resonate with older teens – the combination of gang violence, friendship drama and passionate romance will engage readers. The writing is quick moving and competent, and, if the characters are a little shallow, the plot will shoulder past them.

     Caution: Gritty teen details – lots of passionate kissing, sex (though it takes place off stage), violence (including gun violence) and rape threats, prostitution, drugs, date rape and frequent swearing. Teachers and librarians should be aware of these elements before recommending it.


Wendy Phillips is a teacher-librarian in Richmond, BC, and the author of the Governor General's Literary Award-winning young adult novel, Fishtailing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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