Parents' Guide to

When Light Left Us

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dad leaves, alien takes over in slow emotional tale.

When Light Left Us Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

An absent dad and a visiting alien rock the world of the Vasquez family in this slow-building and sometimes bewildering coming-of-age sci-fi novel. The first third of When Light Left Us is confusing and takes far too long to get to the meat of the story. Author Leah Thomas opts for a measured lead-up to the big alien event that changed the Vasquez family forever, but instead of creating suspense, she only perplexes the reader. The Vasquez kids are possessed by an alien presence, but we don't get any details on what happened or their interaction with it until after the halfway point. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, and many of the chapters include flashbacks, which adds to the plodding pace. This is becoming a hallmark of Thomas' writing: slow story, then a lot of action out of nowhere at the very end. This story did not need the 400 pages it took to tell it.

Once the book picks up past the midpoint, Thomas gives her readers more to think about, in terms of trauma, friendships, and family. By viewing themselves though the alien's perspective, the Vasquez kids see the beauty in the chaos of humanity. Thomas also gets points for giving Maggie, the mom, her own chapters. Not many YA books let kids see things from a parent's point of view. Her worries, exhaustion, and regrets are realistically presented.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate