Cracks Of Light

The Cracks Of Light Series

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
173 Pages
Reviewed on 02/27/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

John Charles Reedburg is a talented producer, author, screenwriter, and award-winning filmmaker with almost 15 years in the entertainment industry. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Guy Hanks and Marvin Miller Screenwriting Fellowship Program at the University of Southern California.

He holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles, an MFA in Screenwriting and Directing from Chapman University, and undergraduate degrees in Communications and Journalism from California State University and El Camino College.

In 2004, he was one out of three winning filmmakers chosen out of 2,000 applicants to make a film for the Dodge Fellowship Grant Award at Chapman University. His thesis film "Rib Shack" won several festival awards.

John's literary work has featured in the Fictional Cafe.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite

Cracks Of Light by John Charles Reedburg centers around the life of a young boy named Demetrius. He lives with his mother in a cramped two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of the Park Arms Apartment. Their lives are anything but ordinary, Demetrius’ mother is bipolar. She raises her son with “Geppetto”, but “Geppetto” isn’t Demetrius’ father or her boyfriend. “Geppetto” is her bipolar disorder. Demetrius is wary of her manic moods and prefers to avoid the terrible pain his Momma’s “other half” often inflicts. However, things start to change when Demetrius forms a hidden friendship with a being called “The Light”. He hesitates to tell his mother about this strange happening and soon Demetrius is taken into a different realm called “The Other Side” and finds out some unexpected things.

Cracks of Light is unlike anything I have ever read before. The blend of unique fantasy and traumatic drama captured my interest from the very start. This book has taken me through an unexpected but riveting journey of the characters’ past, present, and future. Nine-year-old Demetrius is a wary, frightened boy, which isn’t surprising considering the trials he has been through in his short life. He is careful and walks on eggshells around his mother, who could be unpredictable and often violent. My heart broke as I read through the abuse Demetrius, Olivia, and Lydia went through. John Charles Reedburg is not afraid to show us the far-reaching consequences of psychological and physical trauma and that bravery has shaped this story into something distinctive and unforgettable.

Mystery is woven skillfully among the words and often I found hidden gems in the pages. An example is this excerpt from chapter 27: “Anytime she fought with Geppetto it was hard to tell who was wrong. I just thought that was how violence and chaos got along. Stillness was the escape I found inside myself.” I was often left speechless by how beautiful and heartrending this story is. The words are often melodic in expression in the heavier aspects of the book and just added to the overall magnetism and beauty of the story. The ending definitely left me curious for more! Overall, this was definitely an eye-opening, brilliant book. Great job!

Pikasho Deka

Cracks of Light is a dark and surreal novel written by John Charles Reedburg. Dealing with issues of child abuse, drug addiction, and mental illness, the book follows Demetrius, a nine-year-old black child living with his drug-addicted and neglectful mother in Hyde Park, Los Angeles, during the early '90s. Frequently abused by his delusional mother's alter ego that he nicknames Geppetto, Demetrius finds rare moments of joy and comfort in the form of The Light orb that visits and communicates with him at times of great turmoil. Apart from being a fan of kung-fu movies and kickball, Demetrius's life has little in common with an ordinary child as further revelations uncover shocking truths about his mother's family. However, despite the hardships, Demetrius continues to view the world with the idiosyncrasy and innocence synonymous with children.

Raw, heartbreaking, and uncompromisingly brutal, Cracks of Light is a thought-provoking and powerful exploration of child abuse and its role in deteriorating one's mental health. John Charles Reedburg's harrowing tale primely showcases the life-long consequences and deep psychological scars inflicted upon people when subjected to long-term abuse at a young age. John Charles Reedburg utilizes unreliable narrators to a flawless degree to create a fascinating narrative that is as absorbing to read as it is disturbing. The surreal nature of the plot amplifies the dark tone of the narrative, leaving you with a story that somehow feels whimsical and realistic in equal measure. Overall, I felt mesmerized by Cracks of Light. I highly recommend it.

Lesley Jones

In Cracks Of Light by John Reedburg, Demetrius was born in 1983 to Olivia Jordan, a single mother with a drug problem and bipolar. From an early age, Demetrius became accustomed to the daily ritual abuse from his Momma and her imaginary alter ego Geppetto. He saw The Light for the first time at the age of four and when he is nine years old, it speaks to him. Demetrius keeps the existence of The Light from his Momma for fear he would become a victim of more brutal punishments. One night, Demetrius is drawn towards The Light's portal where he crosses into the afterlife and meets his ancestors. He uncovers many family secrets about his Momma and, in turn, discovers answers to help him deal with the trauma of abuse. When Demetrius suffers a personal tragedy, his whole world is turned upside down. He finally meets his pastor grandfather who seems to have hidden secrets within the basement of his home.

Cracks Of Light by John Reedburg is such a compelling story with an extremely emotional plot. The author has accomplished the difficult task of tackling the delicate subject of mental health, domestic violence, and child abuse with harsh realism and sensitivity. The characters were all unique and believable and their dialogue was authentic to their age range. The most admirable quality of this novel was how the author sparked your imagination and emotions with the possibility that the afterlife exists. There are great moments of tension, especially when The Light appears, and quite heartbreaking ones too. The scene where Demetrius witnesses his Momma with the onion was really powerful and profound. Another fantastic scene was between Demetrius and his Momma's family where he finally experienced the love and tenderness he deserved. The plot is brilliantly layered and I loved how the layers were peeled away gradually, revealing some shocking secrets. An excellent story with much more to unravel in book two of the series, I am sure, especially involving the mysterious grandfather.

Tammy Ruggles

Cracks Of Light (The Cracks Of Light Series) by John Reedburg is a transcendent work of urban fiction and fantasy. Imagine growing up in a broken home like Demetrius, with a mother who is mentally ill and drug-addicted, and safety and security are not guaranteed. He makes friends with the Light but doesn't let his mother know because she is bi-polar. When the Light takes him on a secret journey to The Other Side, he encounters his deceased ancestors, who show him how to cope with an abusive childhood, an unstable parent, and domestic violence.

Reedburg skillfully blends poetic lines with the human experiences of trauma and psychological escape, with elements of the supernatural and religion. I like how this author sets the stage for what is to come. We experience the first encounters through the eyes of young Demetrius and feel his pain and turmoil as the story unfolds. In a way, you understand how he can find solace and survival in the supernatural realm, but in another way, you feel sorry for him and wish his life were different. He has his saving grace, and that is what gets him through. Reedburg has an amazing way of showing the dynamics of abuse and mental illness through symbolism--so well that sometimes you aren't sure if you're reading about Demetrius's reality or his fantasy one. I enjoy the themes of family history and admire the way Demetrius copes in his own way. This author is an entertaining writer that reaches deep into the psyche to tell this story. Fans of unsettling works like Get Out, Precious, and Requiem for a Dream will appreciate Cracks Of Light (The Cracks Of Light Series) by John Reedburg.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Not every young hero grows up in a safe, loving home. But, perhaps Demetrius isn’t someone you’d consider a hero. He’s just a young boy stuck in an unhappy home life with a single mother who is emotionally unstable and, at times, brutal to young Demetrius, both physically and emotionally. There is a light, however, metaphorically and physically, one that at first frightens the boy, then lures him into its aura to a place where he learns about his ancestors and develops a deeply rooted sense of how to stay strong on the cusp of abuse, trauma, and unhappy family relationships.

John Reedburg’s novel, Cracks of Light (The Cracks of Light Series), is both raw and gutsy while at the same time being a compassionate look at the unfortunate side of childhood in a disturbing family environment. Told in the first-person narrative, from young Demetrius’s point of view, the reader really feels the pain and fear of the young boy’s angst. There are some moments of humor mixed in with the raw reality of a disturbing home life. The plot develops through Demetrius’s connection to the mysterious light which he dares not tell his mother about for fear she might lash out yet again. A metaphysical look at two worlds, the real and the other side, borders on a supernatural eloquence of alternate realities. Beautifully (if one can describe such sadly horrific and frightening events as beautiful) and compassionately told as a young boy bares his soul to the world; this world and the one on the other side. A powerful look at the tough lives so many young people have to endure.