Review: Bright Side by Kim Holden

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Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.


Initial thoughts: Emotional, heart-wrenching and yet it left me oddly satisfied at the conclusion. Despite having some generic plot devices and side characters, this book was well-written and I appreciate the overall message.

thoughts

Devastating secrets, love, friendship and a journal writing format makes this a great story. Its not often I delve into the NA genre, but I think I may need some more recommendations after this because I really enjoyed it!

The book opens with Kate Sedgwick going to college in Grant, Michigan which is far away from her home in San Diego. She briefly mentions aspects of her previous life- her mother, her sister and her best friend Gus- but we learn more about her history as the story continues. While we don’t really see Gus in person until about halfway through the book, I learned to love him through their endearing phone conversations. While it was fairly obvious Gus had feeling beyond friendship for Kate, or ‘Bright Side’ as Gus calls her, it was clear they had a deep, loving friendship and were incredibly supportive of each other. 

Kate was an extremely likable character. She’s quirky, happy and confident. She likes to surf, says “dude” excessively and only likes her coffee black. She also has secrets that are revealed throughout the book. We get little pieces of Kate’s life as she chooses to reveal and come to terms with it, and we as the reader were able to come to terms with these secrets as well.

My only gripe is that she was a little too perfect  at times. I just have a hard time believing that someone would be so optimistic after everything she’s been through. She never even seemed jaded by life. But hey, I guess that’s why she was dubbed Bright Side. That being said, in the last 25% of the book Kate did have some very raw, honest scenes that made her more real to me, as devastating as it was to read. 

The romance with Keller was very sweet. It was full of angst, anger and hurt, but mostly love. Their relationship was complicated, to say the least, but it was very lovely and left me feeling very satisfied at the end of the story. The journal format and alternating points of view allowed us to see into Keller’s mind as well, and I think that helped me come to terms with the outcome of the story. 

While I do think many of the other side characters were fairly one-dimensional and stereotypical, Keller, Kate and Gus were all well-developed and I sincerely felt like they were real. This book will make you laugh, cry and throw it against the wall. It will probably gut you, but also hopefully leave you feeling happy in a sense. Once you figure out what Kate is hiding you can guess the outcome, but you still won’t be able to peel your eyes away from the pages. I loved that this book was so honest and real.  I highly recommend to anyone who is interested on going on an emotional ride. 

4/5★

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