Review of A House of Light and Stone by EJ Runyon

A House of Light and Stone is an engrossing and captivating tale of a child’s experiences in Los Angeles. Duffy is almost eleven, and we follow her daily life as she moves into a house in Boyle Heights. While the story feels real, I found it an exciting adventure story. Our heroine faces the challenges that confront her in her life each day. I will describe some aspects of the story, to explain why I enjoyed it.

The story brought me into another world. The story is in a moment in the past and brought me into that different time, place and reality. The tale is told in chronological order. The story is told from a first person POV in past tense. The protagonist struggles in a family with an unstable mother. We are introduced to her siblings, Chance, Barbie, Justine and Artie. Rennie, the family’s mother tries to fill her role in the family, without the psychological or material tools to do a good job. The author weaves these characters, who each have their own motivations, into a unified story. This book leads you on a journey through a difficult life with humor, and comical twists. Duffy’s different world is brought to life in the story. The environment, people and shenanigans in this story intrigued me and entwined me into the character’s experiences.

Duffy faces several challenges in the story. The characteristics of the people in her life slowly unfold over time. The story has secrets, and there are things going on that Duffy does not understand. We readers must travel along on the journey to find out how she will survive her problems and what her life holds in her future. With each passing page revelations occur in her life that affect our feelings and opinions about the characters and the city. I found powerful drama and unexpected events that continue through most of the book.

There are dangerous secrets, changes and surprises. Duffy is the central character, and I was rooting for her. We can’t always agree with Duffy’s actions or instincts. We follow Duffy as she meets and becomes friends with neighbors and schoolmates. She has heroes who come into her life and help her. I became invested in the outcome of her childhood struggles and wanted her to win. This story builds over a one year arc.

The book leaves me wanting more. While we get closure with some aspects of Duffy’s life, I still want to know where her story is headed. I liked that the story made me care about the characters. I liked learning the details of her life. This story is set in 1966 in the city of Los Angeles. I lived in that city during that time, so I had some familiarity with the world of the story. I would say the most likely audience is people who enjoy authentic stories filled with drama, love and change. While there is some violence and abuse in the story, give it a try. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

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