Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE by Tiffany Schmidt

Title: Bright Before Sunrise
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publication date: February 14, 2014
Publisher: Walker Children's (Bloomsbury)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.


Review: 
First line: "You've dropped something."

I don't know what I was expecting, but the plot turned out to be what I was and wasn't expecting, all wrapped up in one. These types of plots—where two people are stuck together for a night and their opinions about each other change in less than 24 hours—are tricky. It balances on a thin rope of being unrealistic and involving insta-love. But Bright Before Sunrise succeeded in not being annoying or too implausible. 

What makes this work:

Connection. It's an overall cute story, alternating between Jonah's and Brighton's narratives, displaying the times at the beginning of each chapter. What impressed me was that I was able to connect with both of these characters, even though they were vastly different. Jonah comes from Hamilton, which is represented as the projects, and has an extremely frustrating home life as well as a toxic girlfriend. Brighton, on the other hand, is the poster child for the sunny Cross Pointe and never lets herself have a break. I looked forward to both of their narratives, but I think I favored Jonah's more, partly because he had a backbone. 

Humor. There can be different layers of cute, from a cute that can seem a bit patronizing (like a pat on the head) to a cute that makes me smile. This was the latter. Since I did connect with both characters, they easily made me smile because I got it.

Having him in my bathroom seems way too intimate. I get naked in that shower every morning. The way-too-flimsy-but-neverseen-in-public bathrobe Evy gave me for Christmas is hanging on a hook behind his head.

Realism. You know where most stories with these kind of plots tend to go south? It's when their feelings suddenly change or when the whole story is focused on their romance. This is a contemporary novel and many contemporaries have romance as a focus, but it shouldn't always be that way. The author does a great job in making their relationship progress at a nice pace. It's only 12 hours, I know. But it doesn't feel like 12 hours. Whenever they found themselves more comfortable or reached a new hour or new step in their relationship/friendship, it was done with ease and realism. THAT is how it's done. What helped was that they were both working towards separate goals: Jonah with his achy-breaky heart and revenge, Brighton with her can-do attitude and participation goal. While Jonah hesitated with his plan to show his newly ex-girlfriend the truth (simultaneously embarrassing her), he developed feelings for Brighton. Not overpowering love that so many books seem to do, but slowly developed care. 

Another great example of realism in the book was the ending. Since it's the ending, I can't tell you why, but believe me, it was refreshing. 


Flaws. With Brighton as a main character, the story easily could have followed down a doomed path of "perfect" characters. I thank the author for not ruining her book that way. At one point, Brighton chose poorly, and stupidly didn't act as she should have. But before it became too late for the situation to be fixed, she wised up and had a tiny payback of her own. That's what should happen. Characters are supposed to be flawed. Who wants a Mary Sue? Brighton was overwhelmed with the night's events and emotions, which made her not make the smartest decisions. But she fixed it. She made me go from helpless to proud. I'll repeat myself, that's how it's supposed to happen. Flaws are involved. Brighton has a hard job of keeping up with her Miss Perfect image. Jonah deals with his crappy home life and a situation he hates being in. Both of them deal with irrational choices and overcome their own personal flaws. All of those "imperfections" come together to make a great book with dimensionality. 

Looking back, I don't know what I was expecting. It doesn't matter though because I got what I needed.

Verdict: A fast-paced story involving cuteness and depth as well as a natural relationship progression.

Note: Quotes may change from ARCs to publication.

26 comments:

  1. Your review is the first one I've read of this book, and it's making me want to read it, even though I wasn't planning on it! You also have me wondering about the ending of it! :) I may have to try and get this one from the library when it releases! :)

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    1. Oh, I think you would like it, Jessica!

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  2. Aww this sounds like an amazing read Sunny, I don't know why but when I read the blurb a few months back I really did think that it wouldn't be for me, but all the things that you've mentioned: the realism, the slow pace at which the author makes the romance work and also the romance not being an central theme of this story, would totally make this book work for me. Thank you for a gorgeous review and convincing me of giving this book a go!

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    1. I actually think this would be just the book for you, Jasprit! At least I hope so. Great!

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  3. After reading your review, I'm looking forward to reading Bright Before Sunrise even more! It sounds like a contemporary I'd really like, since the characters are fully fleshed out and that 24-hour storyline always gets to me. Glad to know you enjoyed it!

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    1. It really was great. There were annoyances like any book, I think, but it definitely succeeded in my expectations.

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  4. I'm glad you liked this one, Summer! I did too. I agree, I also liked how Brighton didn't always make the right decision at first. Flawed characters are real to me. Great review! :)

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  5. I've been seeing this one around a lot and was wondering if it would bring anything new to the whole meet and fall in love in 24 hours thing. Glad to know it's not insta-love. I think I do want to read this now that I've read your fab review :)

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    1. Some people may consider it's insta-love, but I didn't. It felt...natural?

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  6. I thought this was such a cute read! I agree with you about Brighton being frustrating, but I also agree that nobody's perfect. The plot was great, too, and I always love when books have alternating povs. Amazing review, Summer! :)

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    1. Thanks, Montana! I think alternating POVs are some of my favorites :)

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  7. Sounds great... I enjoyed your review :-).

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    1. *hugs* This means the world to me, Joanne! Thank you!

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  8. Books that take you by surprise are always wonderful. :) I haven't heard too much about this book, so before reading your review, I didn't really have any expectations either. You make it sound so refreshing, though, and it seems like the kind of story that would make me smile repeatedly. I'll be on the lookout for more reviews of this one!

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  9. Oh, I'm really looking forward to this release! After reading Jen's review of Starry-Eyed Revue, I was sold on this one, but your review absolutely confirmed my need to give this one a shot even sooner. Sometimes, we need cute in our lives, but this book is so much more. I'm looking forward to reading the "so much more" part. :) Wonderful review, Summer!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

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    1. Yes! I felt the same. I wanted to read this and then Jen sold it for me. Thanks, Marlene!

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  10. I saw this on Netgalley but passed it up due to some negative reviews but I'm glad to hear it was an enjoyable book! Now I am curious about this ending, though ;)

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  11. I agree...this story was perfectly imperfect, and I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out. I want my characters flawed, too, but with the potential to wise up and do the right thing. And that's what I got here. Great review, Summer!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! Thanks to YOU, I was sold on reading it.

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  12. I'm glad that this worked for you. I thought about downloading on Netgalley but I think dual povs are tricky. For the most part they don't work for me, but that doesn't seem like it was an issue for you. I definitely might give Bright Before Sunrise a chance.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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    1. A lot of people do have a tough time with alternating POVs. I've started to realize that they have more potential to be my favorites if done RIGHT.

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  13. I'll have to check this out, I love that it has humor in it! I know there's been a lot of "heavy" contemporaries coming out, but I like to smile a bit when I read too. :) I like the way you described their realistic relationship too, we need more of that in books!
    Great review!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

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  14. I'm so eager to read this and I'm glad to see your positive review. And I'm especially excited to hear that the ending is on the realistic side.

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