Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bright Before Sunrise (Early Book Review)

Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:58 AM with 9 comments


Bright Before Sunrise

Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Number of Pages: 288
Release Date: February 18, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone . . . but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won't give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can—and does—happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel's energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.

I wanted to read Bright Before Sunrise as soon as I saw that cover. Look at that moon! Isn't it so pretty? When I read the synopsis and found out that it was a YA contemporary that took place in a single 24 hour period I was sold, sold, sold. While I enjoyed this quick and cute story, I do have to admit that I didn't love it quite as much as I wanted to.

Bright Before Sunrise follows two teens. Brighton (Bright-get it?) and Jonah. Brighton is the quintessential good girl. Smart, popular, and beautiful, Brighton could easily rule the school as the queen bee/mean girl, but she doesn't. Instead, Brighton rules with kindness and is beloved by everyone...well, almost everyone. There are two main things going on in Brighton's life when we meet her.  

One, she is preparing for her father's memorial five years after his death which is to take place the day after our book's time period--which is a Friday. While she wants to both mourn and celebrate her father, she knows that she will have to be a rock for her fragile mother and flighty older sister. Throughout the novel, we get glimpses of her relationship with her father, and my heart broke for her while she steeled herself for the memorial the following morning.  

Two, she is trying to convince Jonah, the relatively new student to come to the book drive she has set up for Sunday. At her school in the affluent neighborhood of Cross Pointe, all of the students but one--Jonah--have done community service hours. If she can get him to participate in one small act of community service, then she will be able to order the key club plaque to put in the school hallway of 100% participation. This plaque that is important to her for reasons we find out as we follow her story. I really liked Brighton and understood her "perfect" persona. Her characterization reminded me of the high school girls nonfiction books like Alexandra Robbin's The Overachievers follow. Today's girls are supposed to be everything: smart and pretty and athletic and kind. It's so much pressure and you could see Brighton's perfect mask cracking under all the weight.

Jonah, however, doesn't want anything to do with Brighton and her stupid community service. Forced to move during his senior year from the nearby town of Hamilton with his mother and her new husband, Jonah doesn't want anything to do with the "snobs" at Cross Pointe. Jonah was a hard character for me to connect with at first. I understood he was angry, and, frankly, in his shoes I would have been too. His mother cheated on his father with her new husband and the two have a newborn together. Jonah's stepfather is a total dick to him, but living with his real father isn't an option. Jonah's girlfriend is back in Hamilton and all of the students at Cross Pointe still treat him as the new kid even though he has lived there for a few months. You can't blame them though as he throws off "don't mess with me vibes" whenever any of them try to reach out. My biggest problem with Jonah was how he treats Brighton in the beginning. Yes, she is the most popular girl of a school he hates, but she has never done anything to him and tries to be as friendly and welcoming as possible. 

Circumstances lead the two to spend a crazy night together in both Cross Pointe and Hamilton and, of course, their feelings towards each other slowly start to change. There were several things about this novel that I did enjoy. I'm a huge fan of multiple or dual narration and Bright Before Sunrise alternates between Brighton and Jonah so we get to see both sides of the story. The writing is easy and fast paced and I enjoyed the author's stylization and thought both voices were distinctive. I also thought the author did a great job of showing how much can change in a single night and loved that the story was told in such a small amount of time. 

Overall, I did enjoy Bright Before Sunrise, with the exception of Jonah's character in the beginning, and would recommend it if you are looking for a quick and easy YA contemporary. 

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.*


  1. Glad you enjoyed it! I'm really looking forward to this, it just sounds so cute. I kind of figured that Jonah would be sort of a jerk at the beginning haha. I'm definitely loving that it's over one night, glad to hear the author did a good job of that! Great review Natalie (:

    1. Overall it is pretty cute. Of course Jonah would start out like a jerk--isn't that the way--but it was a bit too much. The fact that it takes place in such a short time span is definitely appealing. Thanks, Cyn!

  2. I enjoyed this one too. It felt natural, the dialogue was realistic, and I enjoyed the romantic tension between Jonah and Brighton. I also liked the fact that the characters weren't stereotypes, they were more layered and complex. This book just felt real. Surprising and sweet, it made me smile. And yeah, I agree with you about Jonah. He was definitely rude, but at least we got his POV; otherwise, I would have just hated him. Great review! ~Pam

    1. I liked that they weren't stereotypes, too. I especially enjoyed how layered Brighton was. Honestly even with Jonah's POV I was still like: dude, quit being such a dick! I did enjoy it for the most part, though, and I'm glad you did, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I really loved this book. Like you I was excited for it even before I read it, but then, when I read it, it was nothing like I expected and so much better. I didn't love either of them at the beginning, I thought how the whole story started was kind of weird, but the characters and the story quickly grew on me. I'm glad we both like this one :)

    1. I liked Brighton more than Jonah, but I agree it was kind of a weird way to start out the story, but once they were together it started getting better. I'm glad we both enjoyed this one, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I had a hard time getting past Jonah's jerkiness. He wasn't very nice to either his girlfriend or Brighton. Maybe if this hadn't been a "happened in 12 hours" book it could have worked for me, but I was not convinced that Jonah had changed.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. Good point. I don't think he was horrible to his GF, but he def wasn't boyfriend-of-the-year material or anything. Your right, though, it was quite the turnaround in such a short period of time. Thanks for coming over!

  5. I agree, Jonah's attitude was a big turn-off in the beginning, but he grew on me. I adore this type of story, too, though I found this one to be a lot less cutesy than I was expecting.


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