Sunday, November 10, 2019
The Bright Unknown Review!
This poignant and heartbreaking novel explores the power of resilience, the gift of friendship, and the divine beauty to be found in the big, bright world—if only we’re willing to look.
Pennsylvania, 1940s. The only life Brighton Friedrich has ever known is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of Riverside Home—the rural asylum where she was born. A nurse, Joann, has educated and raised Brighton, whose mother is a patient at the hospital. But Joann has also kept vital information from Brighton—secrets that if ever revealed would illuminate Brighton’s troubling past and the circumstances that confine her to Riverside. Brighton’s best friend is a boy she calls Angel, and as they grow up together and face the bleak future that awaits them, they determine to make a daring escape.
Nothing can prepare Brighton and Angel for life beyond Riverside’s walls. They have no legal identities, very little money, and only a few leads toward a safe place to land. As they struggle to survive in a world they’ve never seen before, they must rely on each other and the kindness of strangers—some of whom may prove more dangerous than the asylum they’ve fled.
Narrated in Elizabeth Byler Younts's gorgeous style, The Bright Unknown is a sparkling search for answers, family, and a place to call home.
Praise for The Bright Unknown:
“With prose that is luminous and lyrical, The Bright Unknown is a compelling read from the first page to the last.” —Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War.
My thoughts: Where to start with this book? While I didn't care for Elizabeth's writing style, I did find the story line and theme of this book fascinating. I have read some on the practices in mental asylums throughout the years, so some of the elements to the story didn't surprise me. It still breaks my heart to read about the practices, as well as thankful that a lot of things have changed.
Brighton is a unique character, and I loved how imaginative it was to have a character who has been raised totally sheltered from the outside world, leaving her totally unprepared to live out in the "real" world. It got me thinking about all the possibilities that such a person would face! How terrifying or exciting, depending on the first few experiences. The book takes some unexpected twists and turns once she leaves with Angel, and I enjoyed the last fourth of the book the best for those surprises. The conclusion is worth sticking with the story!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
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About the Author:
Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.
More from Elizabeth
The Bright Unknown was born out of a seed of a true story that my husband’s grandmother, Gigi, shared with me. Gigi told me that when she was a young girl living in Oklahoma her mom had a friend who was a nurse. During one of her visits over coffee she would occasionally talk about her patients at the local asylum. One particular story really intrigued Gigi and even decades later she still remembered it. The story was about a patient who had a baby while at the hospital and while Gigi remembers nothing about the patient or the child, she knew that when she moved out of Oklahoma several years later that asylum-born girl was around eighteen and still living within the walls of that hospital along with her patient-mother.
That story stuck with me. This trapped girl and her mother wouldn’t let me go. I began to wonder over her and ask all sorts of unanswered questions. Slowly but surely my imagined story for her came to life. Layer after layer I learned about Brighton, my name for her. I also named two characters after Gigi, her first and middle, as an honor to her. This story was born from a memory but now these characters feel real and present in my life today and I hope you will journey with them in The Bright Unknown.
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