Book Review: “Adjusting To The Lights” by Tom C. Hunley

Cover of "Adjusting To The Lights" by Tom C. Hunley.
Cover of “Adjusting To The Lights” by Tom C. Hunley.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing the poetry chapbook “Adjusting To The Lights” by Tom C. Hunley! I’ve read and reviewed poetry collections before, so I’m glad to pick this one up to read. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“In Adjusting to the Lights, Tom C. Hunley explores his relationship with his two special needs children: a daughter adopted out of foster care as a teenager, who has borderline intelligence and whose life choices are heavily influenced by her past abuse and neglect; and a son who has autism and continues to be a mystery and an inspiration to his father. Hunley’s struggle to parent his children is our struggle to relate to those among us who are different and discounted by society. Poems express his joy, frustration, fear, pain and triumph in parenting, and also the ways that Hunley falls short and becomes broken himself as shown through the cracked mirror of these children.”

Content Warning:

“Adjusting To The Lights” contains graphic mentions of heavy subjects such as abusive romance, the foster care system and adoption. One or two of the poems also describes an autistic person having a meltdown and/or panic attack. If you are sensitive to any of this content, you may want to skip reading this one.

A disclaimer before I continue this review: I have no experience or knowledge of autism and/or the adoption and foster care systems, so I’m not going to be rating this collection on any accuracy of depicting those experiences. I’m solely rating this collection based on the poems and how they are organized and written.

The overall poetry collection is well-organized. the poems often flip back and forth between the author’s perspectives on his two children. Each of the poems represent snippets of the life he shares with his children. They also show how it affects him as a parent trying to do his best with parenting them. The collection ends on an inconclusive note. There is no indication of whether life involving both children will get better or worse, and it’s the uncertainty that this book brings that makes reading the poems feel like we are in the author’s world and overall life with these children.

I did enjoy reading most of the poems. I think the author did a good job of the creative word use, especially in the poems about the daughter. Some of the poems involving the son felt more like written prose rather than actual poetry, but otherwise they were fine to read as is.

Overall, I’m rating this chapbook 4 out of 5 stars!

I don’t recommend reading this chapbook if you’re sensitive to any of the content I mentioned in the warnings, but the poetry is well-written.

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