By Tiffany Schmidt
Available now from Walker Childrens (Bloomsbury)
Kelly Jensen of Stacked's glowing preview of BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE convinced me that I had to read this book. She was right, so she gets to keep her blogger librarian street cred. BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE is a story of a day in which reserved Brighton and surly Jonah collide.
Brighton has lived in Cross Pointe all her life. She's got her place there - she's the nice one, the one always getting people to volunteer, the one everybody is nice to in return. Beneath her purposefully polished surface, she's still figuring out who she is in the wake of her father's death four years ago and dreading his memorial in 36 hours. Jonah recently moved to Cross Pointe as a senior, after his parents divorced and his mother remarried to a rich man. He doesn't want to fit into the school and doesn't get along with his stepfather. His biological father completely left him behind in the divorce. He's left defining himself by what his life used to be, back in Hamilton, and counting down to the end of high school.
It's a classic odd-couple setup, but Tiffany Schmidt doesn't push things toward romance quickly. In fact, by the end, there's no true love or together forever soulmates. But there are possibilities.
The time constraints of the setting give BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE a heightened sense of reality, but as intense as Brighton and Jonah's night is, it never crosses the line into unbelievability. The clashes between Jonah and Brighton's outlooks and personalities feels real, as does their journey to stepping outside of their (personally imposed) boxes and giving new experiences a chance. It's believable that two teens would find themselves attracted to each other after sharing a such a night.
BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE is a real treat. It's got all the strengths of a good contemporary, particularly three-dimensional characters and emotional authenticity. The gimmick of everything happening within 24 hours ensures that BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE doesn't overstay its welcome. It was a charming novel that entertained me for a couple of lunch breaks.