Anna was living a normal life. She was ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. But then she started to develop worrying symptoms: her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to an intolerance of fluorescent light, then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her entire body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, losing herself in audio books and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission she can venture cautiously out at dawn and dusk, into a world that, from the perspective of her normally cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty.
And throughout there is her relationship with Pete. In many ways he is Anna’s savior, offering her shelter from the light in his home. But she cannot enjoy a normal life with him, cannot go out in the day, and even making love is uniquely awkward. Anna asks herself “By continuing to occupy this lovely man while giving him neither children nor a public companion nor a welcoming home—do I do wrong?” With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place from which we emerge to see love, and the world, anew.
Like a poet, Anna Lyndsey (a pseudonym) is both close observer and philosopher, capable of describing her world and also of pondering what it signifies. The book’s short, fragmentary chapters range from background narrative to lyric contemplation to descriptions of games one can play in the dark, and flashes of acute perception abound.
Read the full review on The NewYork Times
Lyndsey understands that the foremost question an empathetic reader would ask when learning about such a condition is: “How do you cope?” What one really wonders, of course, is “would I cope?”
Read the full review on The Independent
This is an odd book, fragmented, with characters you never really get to know and dialogue that feels slightly stilted, but what stays with the reader is the author’s gutsiness, her imagination and fortitude. She doesn’t give up, but keeps looking for ways to stay sharp.
Read the full review on Star Tribune
As much as the book is about coping with a life-altering condition, it is also a quiet love story that celebrates a relationship that not only withstood the ups and downs of Lyndsey’s medical struggles, but also deepened in the process.
Read the full review on Kirkus
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