Bright Before Sunrise
By Tiffany Schmidt
Publication date: Feb. 18, 2014
Walker Childrens, 288 pages
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.
— Goodreads.com description
Tiffany Schmidt’s Bright Before Sunrise had me at the description, honestly. Why? It’s got one of my all-time favorite conceits in literature: Stories set, start to finish, in a short period of time. (It was one of my Things I Like in Books, even!)
One reason I love young adult literature is that the emotions are so heightened…and when it’s set in a truncated time period it’s like YOUNG ADULT JUICE CONCENTRATE. I’m super into it. I found it so completely enjoyable to see Schmidt smoosh Brighton and Jonah together awkwardly and let them have one crazy night to work out their issues.
One thing I do want to touch on, though, is that for much of the book (maybe all?) I disliked both main characters. So it might have taken me a bit longer to get into the book as a result — but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to enjoy their story. I know a lot of people have a hard time separating the two (liking characters vs. liking a book). If you’re feeling this way, I’d just say to keep pushing and try to appreciate that Brighton and Jonah’s flaws just mean that have much more room to grow throughout the course of the book!