Over at Book Riot this week, I wrote about books that take place in 24 hours or less. It's a time constraint I find endlessly fascinating, and I talked a little bit about why over in that post, as well as included a lengthy reading list of YA books that take place in that short a time span.
You may remember I talked about the idea of girls having to be nice last winter. There's an expectation that girls have to be nice, even if it means sacrificing what it is they desire. Socially, girls are told that they need to be nice and kind. They're shown that in the media over and over, and it becomes ingrained in how they act.
Schmidt's book plays against this very idea. Brighton, one of the main characters in the book, is led to believe that being nice is more important than going after what it is she wants. She fears breaking beyond the label of nice -- she can't imagine what it would be like to be seen as anything but nice. But in the today of this story, something huge is going on in her life, and for once, Brighton wants to be anything but "nice."
Jonah, the second main character in the book, is a new boy in town. And before you start to believe this is going to be a whirlwind romance, let me assure you it's not. Yes, there might be a little bit of romance near the end, but this isn't about Brighton asserting her independence and undermining her "nice" reputation by getting with a bad boy. It's about Jonah challenging Brighton to examine her own conception of self. He asks her to look at herself and her needs and wants and consider the importance of those over the importance of being seen as "nice" and "kind" and "liked" in the eyes of other people.
No, this isn't a story about a boy who changes Brighton's life. And no, this isn't a story about a girl who changes Jonah's life. It's about two people who challenge one another to critically examine their own lives on their own terms and come to conclusions for themselves. Can you strip yourself down to your barest essentials and be happy with what's looking back? If not, how can you make that happen? Those are the questions at the heart of Schmidt's book.
I plan on a longer review when the book is nearer to publication, but in the tradition of doing previews of books I've read and loved a little early, I wanted to get this book on the radar of readers who are looking for realistic fiction of this ilk. I had the opportunity to read this a few months ago, and it's still on my mind. I loved Brighton for being imperfect and striving to figure out how she can better herself while fretting about how others would think about her for doing so -- it's realistic. We all do this. I loved Jonah and how, despite not having all of the best cards in his hand, makes what he can of them while not worrying what other people think of him, even when maybe he could consider that and find his experiences in his new school enjoyable, rather than something to simply get through. Both characters are complex and dynamic, and the ways their lives collide in one night are equal parts funny as they are authentic.
When Tiffany asked if I'd be interested in giving away an advanced copy of Bright Before Sunrise, I couldn't say no. This is a book that I am very enthusiastic about and one which I hope gets into the hands of many, many readers when it's available.
Before that, though, I've got an extra treat. Tiffany was kind enough to choose an excerpt from the book for me to share with readers. I had hoped to post this as full text, but for a number of reasons, including formatting and design, I had to keep it intact as a document.
This particular scene is one I feel really sets us up to understand what Brighton's goals are prior to questioning her need to be liked. It's here when she challenges herself to make Jonah like her. Because her goal to this point has been to be liked and be nice, in what could have been an awkward and real situation, she chooses to pursue being liked to fill that silence.
Curious now? I've got THREE copies to give away, along with a tote bag featuring the book cover, and the bag itself will be stuffed with swag. That is THREE prize packs all together.
Open to US residents, you can enter below. It looks like this:
This is a book I cannot wait to talk about more and it's one I cannot wait to get into the hands of my teen readers, particularly those girls who believe the way through life is being nice and sacrificing their own voices in the name of being liked.