July 19, 2010

Review: Absolute Brightness

My nerves are somewhat shot right now. My dog starting limping Wednesday night so we took him to the vet on Thursday. He didn't think it was something to worry about, probably just a strain in Pat's shoulder, and gave us some pain pills. Pat was walking better for a few days, but now it's gotten worse. He isn't putting any weight on his paw. Yet he still keeps following my mom and I around instead of just resting and letting it heal. You just don't like seeing your pet hurt.

By James Lecesne
Available now from Laura Geringer Books (Harper Collins)

Absolute Brightness

I picked ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS up from the library because the summary reminded me of two of my favorite books: WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER by Carol Plum-Ucci and LUCAS by Kevin Brooks.

What Happened to Lani GarverBook Cover

ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS does have quite a bit in common with those novels, although it is the only one of the three in which the crime is solved. In fact, the novel is almost too neat. No story dealing with subjects as murky and messy as gay bashing, pedophilia/ephebophila, murder, and the death penalty should be that neat. But James Lecesne seems to realize that, and at the last minute adds that needed bit of ambiguity.

The cover and summary of ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS are all about Leonard Pelkey. Leonard is thirteen and flamboyant, and he's come to live with his cousins Phoebe and Deirdre, in their house connected to their mother's hair salon. He takes to the hair salon like a duck to water. But while some people are charmed by Leonard, he's still thirteen and often annoying. Especially to Phoebe, the narrator, who doesn't want to live with the weird kid.

Phoebe's voice is well-developed. While she finds Leonard annoying, he admires her. When he disappears, she has to make a lot of choices about how she interacts with people and how she views her old and new relationships. Her emotional evolution from the beginning of the book to the ending is very compelling.

That's good, because while the plot of ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS is interesting, the focus is all on the characters. Phoebe and the rest of the cast carry the burden well. Aside from liking character driven stuff, you have to be willing to cry. Luckily, Lecesne made me cry in the middle so that I was feeling better by the bittersweet end.

Readers who like ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS will probably like WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER and LUCAS as well. Those interested by the death penalty parts will probably like Truman Capote's masterpiece IN COLD BLOOD as well.

Now I'm off to read something happy.


  1. Poor doggy. Hope that leg gets better.

  2. Sorry about your dog. Although these books don't really interest me, I like how you right your reviews.

  3. Hope your dog gets better!
    This book sounds really interesting. I'd never heard of it, but I might have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

  4. I just picked this book up at the library the other day, because I liked the cover.

  5. Thanks for the good wishes for Patton!

    Michelle - Yay! We're library buddies.

  6. Poor puppy! Just like with a child who's sick - the worst part is he can't tell you what feels bad.

  7. I saw that you are a part of the Debut Author Challenge! That is so amazing that you are supporting debut authors and I only recently found out that I am going to be one!!! I wanted to ask if you wouldn’t mind heading over to my blog and giving me your opinion. As a blogger turned author I would really appreciate it and the publisher is still giving out ARCs so you might have a chance at a free copy! Thank you and I hope you will stop by and check out The Thirteenth Chime!

    Emma Michaels

    P.S.- My release date if Friday the 13th (August this year) isn't that crazy?


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