After Hapgood's previous novel, The Square Root of Summer, I was really excited to pick up her latest book. While it was well-written, I couldn't help but feel like I've read similar stories and that there wasn't maybe as much originality as I wanted there to be.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, How to Be Luminous by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.

This book follows seventeen-year-old Minnie. After the disappearance and presumed death of her famous artist mother four months ago, Minnie has lost all the colour in her life. Instead of vibrant colours, her entire world has turned grayscale, and she has no idea why. While she tries to navigate her new family life with her two sisters, Min also has to deal with Ash, her sweet, non-artist boyfriend. She has trouble letting him into the world of her mind and to her art. When she meets Felix, the similarly grieving new kid, she finds a kindred spirit. But how can she decide who to be with when her own world is crumbling around her?

Just to get this out of the way, this book does have a love triangle. I have to say, it's been quite a while since I've read a book with a love triangle, I'm not sure they're as common these days as they once were and it took me a minute to figure out what was happening, I couldn't quite believe it at first. Subsequently, there is a bit of cheating/overlap that happens in the book, and while Min's internal commentary addresses that she knows what she is doing isn't right, she makes no real move to discuss it out loud.

Despite the issues within the family, I did really enjoy the family aspect of the story. Each of Min's sisters has been affected by their mother's disappearance in different, but also similar ways. Min's youngest sister, Emmy-Kate, doesn't know that their mother is likely dead, and not just missing and is dealing with that by acting out and immersing herself in her mother's things. Min's older sister, Niko, is now their guardian and has to juggle that with going to school.

Niko, Min's older sister is also Deaf, and the characters use both BSL (the book is set in England), as well as "home-signing." I have only read a couple of books with Deaf characters and I was happy to see how well Hapgood was able to seamlessly include signing in the book. It wasn't just thrown in as a plot point, and it wasn't forgotten along the way - even when the characters were talking fast or having an argument, Hapgood made sure that someone was communicating to Niko as well.

My main issue with this book, however, was that it wasn't really anything new. It felt fairly similar to This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills with the slightly pretentious art lingo and deeper subject matter. I also felt like the characters themselves weren't super unique from one another - they each seemed to have their 'thing,' but beyond that, I don't know if I could really tell you who they were.

Overall, I think it was a good book, but I'm not sure it is one that I needed to read.