A poignant coming-of-age novel about two best friends whose friendship is tested when they get the opportunity to leave their impoverished small town for an elite prep school. For fans of Looking for Alaska.

Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He's been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he has to leave behind. Jeff Zentner's new novel is a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.
One of BuzzFeed's 2021 YA Books to Look Forward To
An Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best Young Adult Book of 2021
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2021
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2021
One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2021
A New York Times pick for "The 25 Best Children’s Books of 2021"
An ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner!
A Good Morning America YA Summer Beach Read Pick

“A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.” —STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews

“Notable is the warmth, physical affection, and gentleness between Cash and those he loves, while well-crafted poems throughout, written by Cash as he finds his voice, are evocative and moving, highlighting Zentner’s impressive skill with both poetry and prose.” —STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

“A wise, gorgeous exploration of loss and survival that will make readers cry. . . . Lyrical and heartbreaking.” —STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal

"Heartfelt and deeply moving . . . a book that readers will unhesitatingly take to their hearts." —STARRED REVIEW, Booklist

"Zentner conjures a moving and rich novel about friendship, loss, kind strangers, the blindness so often present in the pursuit of love, and love itself. His protagonists have their eyes raised to the sky." —Daniel Woodrell for the New York Times Book Review

“Vitally redefines friendship as something that must be protected, sacrificed for, and tended to with wisdom, patience, and love — and, to our luck, rendered in Zentner’s gem-like sentences.” —Ocean Vuong, New York Times bestselling author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

“In a word: sublime. This gift of a book will leave you with fiery, incandescent hope in your chest.” —Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

“A novel with the soul of a poem. Jeff Zentner proves yet again that he's one of the most luminous voices writing for young people today.” —Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award finalist Patron Saints of Nothing

“An ode to the healing power of nature and art, but also a testament to the beauty of family both blood and created. No one else can write like Jeff Zentner.” —Silas House, New York Times bestselling author of Southernmost and Same Sun Here

"Zentner's signature poetic prose is in full effect as he crafts sentences that read like sweet tea tastes and cotton feels. . . . In the Wild Light is a love letter to possibility." —Bookpage

“With profound, evocative prose and lyrical insights into the world surrounding a struggling main character, Zentner's powerful, emotional novel is one you won't soon forget.” —Buzzfeed