The Light Through The Leaves by Glendy Vanderah is a contemporary fiction story about an infant (Viola/Raven) who is kidnapped when her mother (Ellis) accidentally leaves her car seat in a parking lot. As the story unfolds, Ellis becomes an addict who decides to leave her husband and twin four-year-old boys since she fears she will harm them. She travels aimlessly for several years but eventually cleans up her act. Raven is raised by a wealthy, but emotionally disturbed woman who believes the infant was a gift from the earth spirits. When Raven is 16, her mama disappears and eventually she is reconnected with her birth family.
What I liked: the themes of nature as a healer, parenting, self-forgiveness, friendship, and family love. The author is a gifted writer.
What I didn’t like: how the novel plodded in places, then crammed a bunch of action at the end; and the magnitude of issues including parental abandonment, kidnapping, drug and alcohol abuse, attempted rape, unhealthy relationships, bullying, gaslighting, marital infidelity, closet homosexuality, odd spiritual beliefs, mental health issues, snobby wealthy people, teenage sex and pregnancy.
This novel is very highly rated on Goodreads so I feel like an outlier by only giving it 3-stars. I recommend this to readers who enjoy contemporary dramas. I listened to the audiobook which is 14 hours, 14 minutes long. The hardback is 455 pages so I think it might be too long for many book clubs.