Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Francis Wootton’s first memory is of Kurt Cobain’s death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection – and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who’s at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There’s the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn’t reckoned on meeting Amber – fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber – and finding a reason to tackle it all – the good, the bad and everything in between – head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.
Huge thank you to Simon Pulse Canada for this ARC!
Comparing The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise to John Green’sThe Fault in Our Stars would be doing the book a huge disservice. While both books focus on similar topics, offering an emotionally engaging reading experience, The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise is far more of a subtle reading, something that I graciously appreciated.
I first want to say how much I loved that music was a huge influence on this story. A lot of the artists mentioned throughout the novel provide an added layer to the story, especially if the reader is familiar with the songs. I found myself listening to Tracey Chapman and Nirvana over again, though I feel like these are artists that either young readers will know because of parents or pop culture, or sadly, won’t know at all. Still, I loved the choice of songs, and it was as though the novel was running its own soundtrack over top of the story being told.
Amber and Francis are great characters, even if they are reminiscent of characters you may have seen before. Amber is snarky, aggressive, and crazy, and to some she may seem a bit one dimensional. However, I think what I enjoyed about her characterization is she knows what her fate is going to be and she is attempting to live her life to the fullest before it ends — that being said, I wish their had been a bit more in her development beyond those character traits. I thought Francis was quite wonderful, and the reactions his family felt throughout the story were wonderful and realistic. Part of me wishes the book had been a bit longer simply because I wanted more from both Francis and Amber’s characters, but I also get how this book is portraying a whirlwind of a romance.
I feel like The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise is a good book, but it’s one that wants you to feel emotionally invested. Oddly, I didn’t feel sad read this book, nor did I feel like it played with my emotions. I enjoyed the way the book ended, and I felt like Crow gives a good enough reason as to why the book is the way it is, even from the start of the story. Admittedly, I wanted more from the story, even if it was just a bit more background information. This is a good book, and it certainly leaves the reader with a hopeful feeling.