Picture Us In The Light

by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Hardcover, 2018





Disney-Hyperion (2018), 368 pages


Daniel, a Chinese-American teen, must grapple with his plans for the future, his feelings for his best friend Harry, and his discovery of a family secret that could shatter everything.

User reviews

LibraryThing member m.belljackson
This may well be your new favorite YA novel!

A great Prologue sets the pace for a compelling plot, real life dialogue, and many memorable characters enjoying strong high school friendships.

Low key, tough, and funny, PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT introduces Danny Cheng, his wonderful father, unsupportive mother, and cool best friend.
Descriptions of Danny's vivid portrait paintings form a cornerstone to the plot, spurring reader's imaginations with color, form, light, and collage imagery.

Gentle suspense builds with mysteries of Danny's dead sister, his father's lost job, Clay Ballard, leaving Texas, and Sandra. Readers also wonder
when Danny will finally get over his reticence in speaking and will find the confidence to get the answers he has searched for and to act on them.

Kelly Loy Gilbert's writing stays close to perfect until the intentional stupidity of the car accident.
This was way to much of a personality stretch and not needed in the plot. Danny had done enough shifty things already -
we don't want to turn against him. Also, vote counting for High School elections is usually either done in tandem or
with the votes exchanged to compare counts and eliminate cheating. This didn't feel authentic.
And, enough Shasta.

Walt Whitman would have loved Danny's father's Quantum Entanglement:
"For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you!"

"...later I always tried to draw it and always gave up, because you could never capture the way it felt to be there."
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LibraryThing member grumpydan
Danny Cheng is a gifted artist and has been accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design. His parents are so proud of him. His parents who are Chinese immigrants have hidden a secret from him, and slowly he learns what it is. Will it destroy his family, his future, who knows?

It’s tough being a high school student and trying to live up to your parent’s expectations. Although slow at times, building up the story and developing the characters, this was a very good book. It not only deals with Danny, but his two best friends Regina and Harry (who are dating), and his parents. The characters are well defined and this story has substance. It deals with suicide, discovery, loss, the power of friendships and family, immigrants, anxiety, college and more.

It is one of those books, where when you put it down, you are like wow. You have to think about it afterwards to understand it all.
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LibraryThing member DKnight0918
Oh my goodness, what a page turner. I highly recommend reading it in one day if possible, at the very least read the last half in one day. Of course I had to split up my reading over a few days due to work and life. I really enjoyed this book. It took me on an emotional roller coaster. I am so glad I received a copy of this book. I look forward to reading more of her books. I will go and read Conviction soon, too. I can’t even imagine having to live in fear the way Danny’s family does. I was so glad he had a great support system with his friends. I got so worried towards the end that things would not be resolved but was happy with the ending. One thing that would make the book even more phenomenal would be the illustrations of Danny’s drawings.… (more)
LibraryThing member LaMaestra72
Here is a complex story that explores diverse cultures among Asian Americans and their struggles with individual/cultural/national identity. It is great to see new literature delve into how Asian American teens deal with family, friendship, secrets/lies, sexuality, stress and suicide. It starts off strong, is sluggish for a while but leaves me wanting a sequel at the end. Go, Danny and Harry!… (more)
LibraryThing member electrascaife
Danny Cheng has enough on his plate, with the stress of doing well in school, getting into the college art program he wants, dealing with the looks and attitudes of white people, and trying to work up the courage to tell his best friend, Harry, that he has feelings for him that go beyond friendship. But in addition to all of this, he and his classmates have the anniversary of a friend's suicide coming up, and Danny is also trying to figure out why his parents won't tell him more about his own lost sister, why his father lost his job, and why they need to move away so suddenly. There's so much to unpack in this book: race issues, being a gay, Asian teen, teen suicide and the pressures of school getting into the best colleges, the mystery behind Danny's parents' past. And all of it is so well done here, too. It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I did, I loved every minute of it.… (more)
LibraryThing member ainjel
WOW WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BOOK. I know I say that a lot, but this book truly deserves it. I have never, ever read a book like it. The characters are all amazingly real and super flawed-- there is no idealization and idolization here. The plot is unfamiliar and wonderful, and I recommend going in blind to this one. You might think you know what's going on, and you might be right... or it might be something more.

The ending was stunning, and one of my absolute favourites of any book ever. The conclusion felt so raw and heartfelt and complicated. If you're one of those people who likes closure, this might not be for you. Sure, there's some closure, but it felt more like a beginning that an end, which is wonderfully liberating.

All in all, this is a gem and I need everyone to be talking about how real and heartfelt this book is.
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LibraryThing member SamMusher
There's a lot going on in this book, and yet it moves very slowly. It took a long time to get going for me. The prose bogs down in tell-don't-show descriptions of Danny's inner monologue, few of which felt necessary to get to know the character. I'm giving it four stars because it's original and complex and I'm still thinking about what it has to say about love and family and immigration. My guess is that the vast majority of 7th and 8th graders, and probably most high schoolers as well, will get bored before the payoffs start coming in the last third of the book. I'll keep it in my collection for a little while and see if it moves, but my guess is students will prefer Aristotle and Dante, or Eleanor and Park.

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Original language


Physical description

368 p.; 6 inches


1484726022 / 9781484726020


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