What are five things you take for granted? I could start by assuming that you take your senses for granted. The ability to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste are so normal that they are often not appreciated until they are lost. If you have never lived in darkness, or silence, or in a world without touch, smell, or taste, you might not realize what a gift these abilities are.
In 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons, the main character, Tessa Dickonson, learns to appreciate all five of her senses after a fateful car accident. Due to an injury from the accident, Tessa must endure 12 to 14 weeks of blindness before her vision returns—but there’s also a possibility that her vision will never return. Tessa is doomed to 100 days of darkness, if not more.
Tessa is a blogger and poet, and after she loses her sight her grandparents place an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to type her poetry and blog posts for her. But none of them expect Weston Ludovico to show up in response to the ad.
Weston has his own backstory: three years before 100 Days of Sunlight, he lost most of his legs, and now has to wear prosthetic limbs. He knows what Tessa is going through—the feeling that your whole world has been turned upside down and things will never be the same again, because now you have a problem, a handicap.
At first, Tessa hates Weston and his “obnoxious optimism.” She is rude to him and does her best to scare him off. But Weston is just as stubborn as she is, and he insists on showing her the beauty that can be found through hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. The book is split up into five parts, each titled after one of the senses.
As the story progresses, Weston shows Tessa how to overcome her fears of the darkness and how to see the positive side of things, while Tessa and Weston become better and better friends. Weston loves to be with Tessa for another reason: she treats him like a normal person. Ever since he got his prosthetic legs, everyone treated him as broken, or fragile. But Tessa can’t see his legs and he doesn’t tell her about them. He’s excited for the chance for someone to treat him like a real person, rather than an invalid.
100 Days of Sunlight is not the type of book I would normally reach for, but I had been listening to a podcast with the author, Abbie Emmons, and I decided to try it out. Abbie Emmons’ writing is captivating and delightful, right from the first page to the last. Tessa’s and Weston’s characters are empathetic and deep, rather than shallow. There are also good secondary characters, such as Tessa’s grandparents, Weston’s three younger brothers who think of Weston as a superhero, and Weston’s friend, Rudy.
100 Days of Sunlight is technically a Young Adult book, and it does have some cursing and elements of romance in it, but overall it was a fast, interesting read that I would highly recommend.
100 Days of Summer by Abbie Emmons. Abbie Emmons, 2019. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!