ARC Review: Documenting Light by EE Ottoman


coverIf you look for yourself in the past and see nothing, how do you know who you are? How do you know that you’re supposed to be here?

When Wyatt brings an unidentified photograph to the local historical society, he hopes staff historian Grayson will tell him more about the people in the picture. The subjects in the mysterious photograph sit side by side, their hands close but not touching. One is dark, the other fair. Both wear men’s suits.

Were they friends? Lovers? Business partners? Curiosity drives Grayson and Wyatt to dig deep for information, and the more they learn, the more they begin to wonder — about the photograph, and about themselves.

Grayson has lost his way. He misses the family and friends who anchored him before his transition and the confidence that drove him as a high-achieving graduate student. Wyatt lives in a similar limbo, caring for an ill mother, worrying about money, unsure how and when he might be able to express his nonbinary gender publicly. The growing attraction between Wyatt and Grayson is terrifying — and incredibly exciting.

As Grayson and Wyatt discover the power of love to provide them with safety and comfort in the present, they find new ways to write the unwritten history of their own lives and the lives of people like them. With sympathy and cutting insight, Ottoman offers a tour de force exploration of contemporary trans identity.

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Release date: August 31st

My review:

*I got and ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I *really* don’t know how to review this book. Putting my feelings into words with this one seems almost impossible. I asked Annie if I could just tell you all to go and read it, but she told me she expected more than just one sentence; so I guess I’m just going to ramble for a bit.

First, I’ll start by saying that I wish everyone will read this book. It’s important, not only the story but the characters, and the way the author treats them. You can see the love EE Ottoman put in them since the first page. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d turned out to be real people and had come out from the book to say hi to me. (Well, I’d probably have been a bit surprised, but you know what I mean.)

I think it’s fair to say that I loved this book, and I had no doubt my rating would be a 5 stars one, but the review was the part I struggled with. Because how can I express what these characters meant to me, really? How can I tell you what they made me feel when I can’t even explain those feelings to myself? This book made me think; and not only while I was reading it, those thoughts stayed with me for days after I finished. I still find myself going back to some of the conversations.

The story in itself, the research about the picture, was really interesting. I loved how the different approaches to it worked. Grayson looked at it as he would have looked at any research project while he was reading History at University, while Wyatt approach was more practical and related to feelings, more than facts. I liked all the speculation they did: what if they were queer? Were they a couple? Why had the picture been hidden? I wouldn’t mind a follow-up novel where we’d get some of those answers.

But the characters and their relationship were the ones that won me over. They did a lot of growing along the story, and not just together, but individually, too. I love when characters evolve and I can see how happy this makes them, how they’re more comfortable in their own skin and how they love themselves a bit more with each page I read. So I’m going to just insist on this a bit more: EE Ottoman did an amazing job creating Wyatt and Grayson and bringing them to life.

A delightful and important read, please don’t let it pass you by.


Genre: Contemporary Publisher: Brain Mill Press Review

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