What the Light Hides | Mette Jakobsen

WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is the latest book from Mette Jakobsen. It is deep and powerful but not very long, according to our lovely reviewer, Kernel Deb, this one is more of a novella. At 208 pages long it should be a quick read into the psyche dealing with loss and grief. Romantic comedy it is not. WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is out now from the fine folks at Text Publishing. You should find this one in most bookstores or you can grab it HERE.

The book deals with grief, loss and suicide. If you are thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis help is available.

No one needs to face their problems alone.

  • Call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24hrs a day)
  • Chat to Lifeline online 7pm-4am, 7 days (AEST/AEDT)
  • Call 000 (Emergency Services in Australia) if life is in danger.

Enjoy Deb’s thoughts………….happy reading…………….JK.



WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is Mette Jakobsen’s much anticipated second novel and follows the journey of central character David Oliver as he attempts to come to terms with his son’s unexpected death. Five months after Ben’s death his mother, Vera wants to move on, but David remains deeply traumatised. As WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES progresses Jacobsen delves into the past of each of her characters, airing  their conflicting views on capitalism, Marxism, the importance of beauty, creative courses in universities, parenting, parenting expectations, and the importance of sustainability. Jakobsen sensitively excavates the past hurts, secrets, omissions, resentments, jealousies and regrets between siblings, children and parents that are exposed by Ben’s absence.


David, the central protagonist is a craftsman. He meets Vera for the first time at a pretentious inner city warehouse party. Their attraction is immediate and enduring. Twenty years on they have passionately but completely understood one another, until now. When the book opens it is five months after their son Ben’s death. Vera is keen to move on with her life, but David cannot. Ben’s death has caused a painful emotional schism between them. Grief, so different for each of them, has created a dark shadow in their relationship disrupting the fluidity of their day to day interactions.

As David looks around his much-loved Blue Mountains home, intrusive memories of Ben disrupt his work. His emotions swing from an awful despair where he just wants to die, to days where he furiously hopes that Ben’s absence is not what it seems and that somehow the coroner made an awful mistake. Sparse conversation, arguments and silence fill Vera and David’s previously harmonious house, a house which, both in the past and now, is an extension of their emotional life. Unable to comfort one another, numb to each other’s distress, their relationship is strained. When David decides to move to Sydney for six months to work, their emotional withdrawal from each other becomes geographical as well.

Family and friends do their best to be present and provide solace for David but it is not enough. Even in Sydney unexpected memories of Ben surface so David’s grief persists. Then unexpectedly David believes he sees Ben walking in the street. Buoyed by hope he embarks on a mission to find him, and in the process tracks down Ben’s friends and lovers.


Mette Jakobsen Author image



Sydney based, Danish born Jakobsen is a playwright and novelist. She has a PhD in creative writing, a BA in philosophy, and is a graduate of NIDA’s Playwrights Studio. Her plays have featured on ABC Radio National. Jakobsen’s first novel THE VANISHING ACT was shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth book Prize. WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is her second book. Both books are about loss, loneliness and grief but whereas THE VANISHING ACT was from a child’s viewpoint, WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is clearly from an adult perspective.


Jakobsen has intentionally created Ben as a silent character. There is no note and no clear explanation of why. He is present only through the reflections and perceptions of his family, friends and lovers. Ben emerges from the story as a sporadically melancholic but handsome young man infused with a restless idealism. A young man who intensely engages with others, only to abruptly withdraw as he comes to see their flaws and imperfections; a young man who wants to fly; the same young man with a protected secret life that perhaps no one truly knew.

Jakobsen’s language in WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is lyrical, beautiful and frequently allegorical. Water and light imagery in particular are used throughout the novel to reflect the internal life of her characters. Grief has no set pattern, but over time the sadness of Jakobsen’s characters changes. Jakobsen sensitively tunnels under the surface of her characters to reveal what used to exist, the ways in which their lives have been affected by Ben’s absence, and the awkward attempts they make as they reconnect and continue on with their lives.


WHAT THE LIGHT HIDES is a hauntingly moving story about the ways in which grief can affect a family, causing shock, confusion, disbelief, emptiness, guilt and regret; but most especially the book is about how losing a child can be heart-breaking.


3 and a Half Pops



Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science , black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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