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.
(Summary from GoodReads)
I was interested in Schmidt’s debut Send Me A Sign, and since lots of people were praising Bright Before Sunrise, I decided to request it from NetGalley. Bright Before Sunrise had a few “awww” moments throughout the story. Personally, neither of our main characters were likable for me, and that detracted from my enjoyment of this story.
Brighton is the people pleaser who has lived in Crosse Pointe her whole life, whereas Jonah is the boy who moved there from a very different community. As this story started, both of their characters annoyed me, but I assumed there would be a really strong character arc throughout this story. However, as I read, I found out that neither of their characters transformed fast enough. It took too long for Brighton to stand up for herself, it took too long for Jonah to stop making assumptions. On the other hand, there was a plot point with Jonah where it felt like he changed his mind about something that had been important to him much too quickly. Also? These voices were weirdly similar for two characters who were supposedly so different. At times I had to stop and remind myself who was narrating.
The plot of this book was fun, although perhaps not the most unique. There’s a bit of a romance here, and I really liked the way it was written. To me, Jonah was most genuine when he was discussing his reaction to Brighton. When I try to think about the ending of this book, it occurs to me that not a lot comes to mind. This could be because I’ve read a lot of books, but I don’t think that’s it, seeing as how I recently reviewed a book I read last June and remembered the ending almost perfectly. I think it goes to show that Schmidt’s book, while fun, was not memorable for me.
Bright Before Sunrise is a book that doesn’t suit my personal reading tastes. I know characters like Brighton and Jonah should both exist in YA literature, but they drove me a little too crazy here. Schmidt’s novel is fun and I think a lot of readers will enjoy it a bit more than I did—it just wasn’t a standout for me.
Disclosure: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review: