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The Sunlight Pilgrims por Jenni Fagan
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The Sunlight Pilgrims (edición 2016)

por Jenni Fagan (Autor)

MiembrosReseñasPopularidadValoración promediaMenciones
3708855,142 (3.41)50
It's November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last. There's snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother's and grandmother's ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived. Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they'll all be ready.… (más)
Miembro:KathrynEastman
Título:The Sunlight Pilgrims
Autores:Jenni Fagan (Autor)
Info:Windmill Books (2016), 320 pages
Colecciones:Tu biblioteca, Por leer, U
Valoración:
Etiquetas:Ninguno

Work Information

The Sunlight Pilgrims por Jenni Fagan

  1. 10
    L´EDAD DELS MIRACLES. por Karen Thompson Walker (KatyBee)
  2. 00
    Depart, Depart! por Sim Kern (aspirit)
    aspirit: Written in a different style but with similar themes and conflicts, set in a different climate.
  3. 01
    The Essex Serpent por Sarah Perry (wandering_star)
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Esta reseña ha sido escrita por los Primeros Reseñadores de LibraryThingSUB2>.
I requested The Sunlight Pilgrims from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in 2016 because I’d previously read and enjoyed Jenni Fagan’s novel The Panopticon. Unfortunately, my reading tastes and habits changed around 2015, and this Early Reviewer uncorrected proof sat on my bookshelf, neglected, for far too long. I finally read it over the past six weeks, and want to post my Late Review while the mood of the book is still fresh.

First, Fagan’s writing is just beautiful. I felt like I was right there with the characters in the tiny trailer park, and imagined the apocalyptic cold and deepening snow. (I’m glad I opted to read this during the summer!) Readers of literary fiction who enjoy gorgeous sentence-level writing should give this one a try.

The main characters’ inner lives and relationships are explored to varying degrees, but Stella is the most fully-realized character. She’s a twelve-year-old transgender girl who’s dealing with bullies at school and a crush on a boy who used to be a friend. She chats online with a trans boy in another country, and as the novel progresses, she grows more worried about the approach of puberty, and she goes to the doctor with her mother to get hormone-blockers.

One of the best things about Stella’s mom, Constance, is her complete support of her daughter’s gender identity. Instead of prescribing hormone-blockers, the small-town doctor wants to refer Stella to a clinic that specializes in hormone replacement, but says it could take a year or more. Constance asks him, “And how would you feel if you grew breasts and got your period tomorrow, Doctor?” (p. 203) She tells the doctor that if he won’t give Stella the hormone-blockers, they’ll find another doctor who will, but the temperature has already grown so cold that the local doctor is only open one day a week, and the family vehicle is unreliable. Constance wants to help her daughter, but between the extreme weather and the lack of resources, her options are limited.

Although Stella’s story arc focuses on her gender identity, she’s also just a goofy normal kid. When the other main character, Dylan, moves into the caravan next door, Stella is quick to introduce herself and ask him questions. When she’s angry and upset, she goes for a bike ride in what turns out to be a snowstorm; Constance and Dylan spend hours driving around looking for her. Late in the book, a group of kids have a sled race. Stella believes her sled is the best one: “Of all the sledges, this bobsleigh is the one most people are looking at. It is to be both admired and feared. It is the ultimate racer” (p. 248). This is how Fagan describes Stella’s mindset just before the race:

Stella’s feet are cold and her fingers are numb and her heart is heavy.
There is hair on her lip and her voice is getting lower.
Her hair is in braids.
She doesn’t care any more what anyone thinks.
She is going to win this race. (pp. 248-249)


When the book begins, Dylan is in London, both his mother and grandmother having passed away within six months. His mother left him a deed to a caravan in Scotland as well as her sketchbook. He packs a suitcase and his loved ones’ ashes and travels north to find the small town where the caravan is located. Initially, I thought Dylan was maybe in his early or mid-20s, but he’s actually in his late 30s. He’s an interesting character, and his fast friendship with Stella is lovely. He’s immediately smitten with Constance, though she has a complicated love life and doesn’t want to tangle it even more.

The novel covers nearly six months of these characters’ lives, and after a brief prologue, it’s split into four parts. Each of the parts is smaller than the previous one, and the last one is not quite twenty pages. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and living with them for most of the book. Several other reviewers described this as a slow book, and if you’re looking for plot, this one probably isn’t for you. The main problem for me was the ending: after being immersed in the characters’ lives, reading their thoughts, the “wind down” felt too fast for me. About 2/3 of the way through the book, Dylan discovers a secret about his grandmother, who lived in the same area when she was young. This information could have led to some drama, but it’s not clear if Constance knew anything about it, and it was never explicitly discussed.

The end of the book is so sudden, the implication seems to be (basically) that the world has ended, or at least that people are dying of hypothermia as the freeze overtakes one region after another. Maybe the point is that we never get the time to do or say everything we want to, because sooner or later, it’ll all be over—which is profound, though potentially depressing. But in the moments right after I finished the novel, my main thought was just, “That’s it?” I didn’t need a happy ending—it’s literary fiction, after all—but I wanted a less ambiguous ending, and some actual dialogue about Dylan’s family secret. I’m giving it 3.5 stars, knocking off half a star for the ending.

Many thanks to LibraryThing for the chance to read and review this book—technically an uncorrected proof—which I received for free but that has no bearing on the content of my review. ( )
  HeathMochaFrost | Jul 31, 2021 |
It's 2020, and the world is slowly freezing. The two main characters: teenage Stella, who was until recently a boy named Cael, and an ex-Londoner Dylan. Mix in some weird dynamics with mother Constance and a remarried father, who is struggling to cope with his daughter's sexual identity, and now you've got some idea of this novel. Dylan is also reeling from the back-to-back loss of his mother and grandmother. I was quite amused when Stella tosses a plastic container of ashes into Dylan's backyard only to discover it was the earthly remains of one of his dearly departed. Did not like it as much as I had hoped: 2.5 stars, rounded up. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
I really wanted to like this book, and I tried. I gave it about 75 pages before I called it quits. It had all the elements that I always go for: dystopian survival tale with multiple viewpoints. But from what I’ve read so far, it’s sure taking it’s time to get there. All of the foreboding talk of the apocalypse takes a backseat to the stories of these 3 different people. Yes, you can build up characters in a dystopian novel before the main event hits, but I felt like this book missed the mark on that balance. I was bored and just wanted more of the apocalypse.
The one highlight of what I read so far was the character of Stella. Stella is a lonely trans teenager who is being bullied at school. Stella is a very likable character and I enjoyed reading more about her, and had the novel been through her perspective I would have stuck with it. ( )
  brookiexlicious | May 5, 2021 |

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A global environmental disaster sets the backdrop for The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jennie Fagan, yet for all that the synopsis emphasizes these apocalyptic times, the story focuses more on family connections and growing up/living in a small town. The main part of the story that drew me in and kept me interested was Stella and seeing her try to cope with life in a tiny, bigoted crowd.

Character development was the driving point of this Sunlight Pilgrims. Readers see Stella evolve from extremely insecure, depressed, and self-conscious, to realizing the boys and kids around her aren’t worth her attention, depression. She learns this the hard way after an alluded to hospital stay. Why is Stella having such a hard time? Because she is a transgirl living in a tiny, religious town. Stella was the high point for me and I was extremely eager to read her chapters, to see more of her evolution. Meanwhile, we also have Londoner Dylan befriending Stella and trying to woo her mother. His arc started with emotion and steam, but fizzled out almost immediately. The only time his arc picked up interest was when he discovered his dark family secret, which I would have loved to have seen more fully explored.

While this reminds me a bit of A Sudden Light by Garth Stein mixed with The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, it doesn’t seem to come close to being as great as either. Still, The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Faber is a solidly written book, but does falter at living up to the synopsis. I would have preferred the apocalyptic nature of the extreme cold and snow had been shown as something extremely serious (like it was in “The Book of Strange New Things“) and/or that there be a greater focus on Stella’s development and maturing, as well as a more in-depth look at Dylan’s family secret and its impact.

// I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review // ( )
  heylu | Jan 8, 2020 |
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It's November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last. There's snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother's and grandmother's ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived. Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they'll all be ready.

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