My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 25, 2015
Point of View: First Person (Grant)
Genres & Themes: Romance, M/M Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQA+, Disability
For years Grant Kessler has smuggled goods from one end of the world to the next. When business turns in a direction Grant isn’t willing to follow he decides to retire and by all appearances he settles down in a nowhere town called Durstrand. But his real plan is to wait a few years and let the FBI lose interest, then move on to the distant coastal life he’s always dreamed of.
Severely autistic, Morgan cannot look people in the eye, tell left from right, and has uncontrolled tics. Yet he’s beaten every obstacle life has thrown his way. And when Grant Kessler moves into town Morgan isn’t a bit shy in letting the man know how much he wants him.
While the attraction is mutual, Grant pushes Morgan away. Like the rest of the world he can’t see past Morgan’s odd behaviors.
Then Morgan shows Grant how light lets you see but it also leaves you blind. And once Grant opens his eyes, he loses his heart to the beautiful enigma of a man who changes the course of his life.
When do you know you’re in love? Some say that you just look at a person and you know you’ll love them, that they’re it. That one day you’ll marry them. Some say that it’s slowly and “then all at once,” the John Green quote goes. It’s like one moment you realize you love that person and it’s a million instances, that you can’t quiet pinpoint when exactly that was. And so my question is, how do you know you’ve fallen in love with a book? When did you realize that your favorite book was your favorite book? Was it on your first reading? Or was it in your third and fourth rereading?
“In Morgan’s case, the light had let me see the tics, the muscle spasms, and his strange movements, and I’d been distracted by them. The dark took it all away and left me sitting next to a person, not a behavior, a human being, not perceived defects. Someone insightful, quick-witted, determined, generous, kind, and armed with a wicked sense of humor.
Someone definitely smarter than me.
Someone I did not deserve.”
In the Absence of Light is one of my all time favorites, and I didn’t realize it until I had bought the physical copy, and was on my third reread in less than a year, and thought it’s time. It’s time for that review that I could never churn out. That was when I realized that I had fallen for this book, its story, and its characters. But when did I fall in love? I think it was the moment in when I was trying to memorize everything that happened.
I’m not sure was makes this story so beautiful. Because it is. I don’t know if it’s the story, the plot, the writing, the characters, the romance, Morgan, or Grant, or maybe it’s everything combined. The way it all combines to make this bigger than life, breathtaking novel.
This story was so well crafted in every way that there is no room for debate. It had such depth in every little aspect and detail, that you’re left wondering how it’s even tangible form. Wilder wrote a subject that is tricky to navigate, as it isn’t something that you can merely research and then built on that. She gave it substance and credibility in everything.
Morgan is autistic and never did Wilder romanticize it, nor did she throw it under the rug after some time. Grant, a criminal on the run, is quick to make judgments on who Morgan is and how he should be and act and what those limitations are and should be. And there’ s so many well characterized thing in this book that I just want to gush and not articulate anything because it is that amazing.
Wilder created three-dimensional characters, and you could see that throughout the entire novel, in their actions, the way they thought, and their setbacks. Because the thing is that Grant is learning at every moment he shares with Morgan. He starts understanding that Morgan isn’t a disability, and whilst he starts to learn that doesn’t mean he knows it all or understands every intricate details, and that’s the thing. He is constantly learning. He doesn’t miraculously become an expert in autism, instead he has setbacks and he’s constantly fighting and feeling guilty that he still had prejudices and preconceived thoughts on how autism people should be.
As for Morgan, my sweet sassy sunshine. He’s the guy who has been underestimated all his life, who has had to fight not only the world, and other people, but himself constantly. And it’s tough to watch him go through certain stuff. Morgan has gone through so much and he continues to fight each day, and each second. All I can say is that I fell as hard as Grant did for him.
The two together are a miracle to witness. In the Absence of Light is limited to Grant’s POV, but through him you experience the way Grant falls for him and I constantly reread passages because you see how both helped each other in ways that they needed. Morgan needed to see the light in Grant, he needed to trust, just as did Grant. And honestly, they just both held each other up and helped at the same time. The love is this tangible thing, because at one moment, okay more than one, you hope they’re real. That you could attend the drive in theater that’s meant for the cows or go to Toolies so you can get infamous Grant’s signature after his performance.
Even Grant’s background criminal past, and the FBI plot, and even Jeff was well-crafted. Nothing is at seems, and everything leaves you conflicted. The story puts you through the wringer in both good and bad ways, and by the end you don’t care what you have to go through as long as Grant and Morgan get their happily ever after. Hell, this story even has hilarious moments. I still tell my friends about Morgan’s prank, and I’m kind of tempted to a pull certain bullshitometer…you’ll get it you read it *wink* Because Morgan is a little shithead sometimes, but maybe it’s because people are way too easy.
“Morgan may be autistic, but he is a normal man with a mental condition, not a mental condition who is a man.”
If there’s every a book that will have you questioning the secrets of the universe and how beautiful light and a person can be then it’s this. And if there’s ever a book that you need to pick up because I said so…it’s this one.
I do want to know, though, when do you realize your favorite book became your favorite book? And how many times have you fallen in love…..with books?
Come back and gush to me if you read it and love it!