Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
Grant Lesham, Reader's Favorite
"Winter Light is one of the most powerful narratives I’ve read in a long time. Author Martha Engber perfectly captures the angst, the sense of loss, the total aimlessness, and the intense frustration at being unable to change what it is that bedevils Mary. Mary is edgy, tough, and yet infinitely vulnerable and sweet underneath the tough exterior. I found myself talking to Mary, imploring her not to go that way, not to get in the car, not to be so darn stupid. Any author that can make a reader respond so emotionally to her written words is an author of rare talent and Engber is such an author. With all the odds stacked against her, it is clear Mary has what it takes to break free but can she summon the persistence and courage to do exactly that? The plot is tight and the writing stark and real. Yes, there are times you may cringe from the words or the action but it is realistic in a way that is often sanitized and glossed over in literature. Although many of the situations in which Mary places herself or finds herself are entirely predictable, it doesn’t detract from the action-packed narrative that equally allows time for quiet reflection and insight from the main characters. Looking back at one’s own teenage years through the eyes of Mary is something this story compels and it doesn’t take much for one to reflect there but for the grace of God, go I. It is rare that a novel evokes such a visceral response in a reader as this story did in me and I can highly recommend this read."
Tom Gillespie, author of The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce
“But above all, I loved Mary. As the story progresses, Mary becomes a heroine, a resistance fighter for her own freedom, and I was completely swept up in her emotional, physical, and psychological war with the forces that try to destroy her. She is a magnificent and inspiring force of nature and one of the most compelling and truthful characters I have read in a long long time.”
Phill Provance, author of A Plan in Case of Morning
"By the end there’s a genuinely hard-fought redemption for Mary, a payoff rare amid today's glut of teen-lit brain candy. Rarer still, Winter Light is so well-written and believable that it transcends easy classification as a "YA novel," offering something for the kids, yes, but also entertainment and edification for the mature adults among us.”
Joanne Nelson, author of This is How We Leave
"Warning: You won’t be able to put Winter Light down. Sleep will be missed.
Martha Engber’s third book, Winter Light, operates on two levels. First there’s the story of teenager Mary Donahue. A girl from the wrong side of everything. We follow Mary as she struggles to find a way forward out of poverty, loss, and the low expectations of those around her. Her path is littered with poor decisions—not only her own, but those of everyone she loves. We watch as she begins to find a new way forward, under her own guidance. An uncharted course fraught with both literal, rapid page-turning danger and the heart-breaking risk of even trying.
There’s more. Winter Light also works on another level. How is it that we know what we know? How are norms passed to us—and what happens when they aren’t? How do we make it out of a bad past? These questions become a subtle hum weaving through the novel. A hum that only adds to a reader’s engagement with Engber’s well written narrative as we journey with Mary, hoping she'll show us how it’s done.
Bring out the snacks and get comfy. Winter Light is well worth a late night and a groggy morning."