Book review: 'Late Lights' grapples with teens' gritty realities

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31 2013 1:00 p.m. MDT

“LATE LIGHTS,” by Kara Weiss, Colony Collapse Press, $14, 123 pages (f)

Although Monty, B.J. and Erin are teenagers from different families, backgrounds and social strata, they are friends who are trying to navigate their way in a social world where each decision can backfire in untold ways.

“Late Lights” is divided into five chapters that tell part of their overall story from a different perspective — Monty from his time in juvenile detention; B.J. as she tries to come to grips with her maturing body in a family of mostly boys; Ivy League-bound Erin as she reconnects with Monty when he gets out; Monty as he tries to readjust to life with his unaffected dad; and Erin in college as she deals with the aftermath of an affair with a university employee.

The stories deal with the harsher, almost never-told aspect of trying to be strong and unaffected, but are caught in the emotional wake of their own and others’ decisions in an ever-changing social structure. And despite their varying backgrounds, it’s their friendship that either pulls them through or sinks them during the tough times.

Utah author Kara Weiss’ ability as a writer shines. Her writing is succinct and clear yet detailed as she lays out these stories that aren’t always easy to tell or read, because they deal with some of the unsettling aspects of life and family.

There isn’t any extraneous fluff in her stories, and she cuts to the gritty core of what this trio of friends grapples with.

There is swearing throughout the stories, and descriptions of violence, some sexual content and sexual innuendo.

“Late Lights” is the debut novel of Weiss, who teaches English at Westminster College and lives in Salt Lake City.

If you go ...

What: Kara Weiss book signing

When: Friday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, karaweiss.com

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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