July 12, 2015

Book Review: Bright Side (Bright Side #1) by Kim Holden

Bright Side (Bright Side, #1)

Get a copy here!

I made a mental note to fill my July’s reading list with as many book as possible from my TBR list. The list volume is getting bigger and I admit I’m a little worried that it’ll pile up and up and never stop and I’ll end up missing a lot of good books from the list.
I chose Bright Side because its sequel kept appearing on my screen while I browsed something new to read on Amazon for weeks. The cover is so unique. It’s been a while since the last time I see a book cover that contains only with one singular color. It’s so neat, simple, and hides a lot of meaning behind its plainness. The cover itself already made me so eager to read the story inside.
And what a book I had chose there…
Bright Side has everything from bad to good quality a book could have. It’s boring, slow, and hard to get into in the beginning. And it’s mind-blowing, smile-inducing, heartbreaking, and tear-jerking right from the middle all the way to the end. I might a little hate this book at first but Bright Side performed such awesome theft operation through its plot that in the end I didn’t even realize my heart was already successfully stolen.

Kate Sedgwick had it hard for years. Absentee parents, physically and emotionally, in her family caused Kate to take control of her and her sister life from such early age. Kate herself was still on the phase when girls her age was in need of lots of care and affection and she already had to take care of her sister who had Down Syndrome. Not to mention bad treatment they received from their mentally-disturbed mother. Money ran out fast like rain water sliding off the rooftop in their home. With bills keep piling up, teenager Kate officially had another task on the plate: to work. But none of the above kept her from smiling from day to day. It was as if nothing could break her spirit, turn off her light, stop her pace, or wipe the good side inside her heart. It was like Kate Sedgwick was born to live all of her life positively. That’s the reason Gus Hawthorne, her best friend, called her Bright Side.

God knows Kate needed something to balance her miserable life. Gus and his mom were that ‘something’ for her. After finding out how miserable Kate and her sister’s condition, Gus’ mom literally tucked them into her wings and took care of them as if her own children. Kate couldn’t be more thankful for their thoughtful help. But being Bright Side, she still did a lot of things on her own. Even when they decided to move out, Kate and her sister chose to rent an old garage to sleep under than being nuisances for Hawthorne family. Kate gave up her full ride music scholarship at Grant for the sake of her sister. But fate pushed her into a whole different circumstance where she ended up in Grant eventually under scholarship but not for music. For the first time in her life, Kate would live far away from Gus and his mom. For the first time in her life, it would be just Kate against the world. 

Juggling with school and work was how Kate lived her life in Grant, Minnesota. Life was still the same hard kind here in the new town but Grant had introduced her to a lot of people with different characters and backgrounds. People who soon became her new family, people with their own issue, people who was saved from the edge of the cliff they’ve been standing at all their life until Kate came and pulled them back.
Among them was someone who reminded her that Kate might have lived all her life independently but it’s okay to need someone to take care of her one day. Someone who reminded her that her name might be Bright Side but it’s okay to come undone for once because it’s when that someone lent her their shoulder to lean on and cry to.
Keller Banks might be that someone for Kate.
And it might be true as long as they were willing to reveal all secrets that standing between them like some unbreakable brick wall.

“… You give me courage I never knew I had.”

“I didn’t do anything. I was there all along, you just had to find it.” 

(Sunday, November 6; Bright Side)
At first, everything went so slow and uneventful. I kept waiting where this story would take me but even until I finished the first half of the book, I still didn’t get what I wanted. I had to hold back my urge to put this book down again and again because honestly, I was really really bored.
But then on the second half of the book, the author seemingly started to roll her sleeves up and began writing her ‘actual’ story. The book started to pick up its pace and damn, she threw out twist after twist for us to deal with. Some was predictable some wasn’t and those that unpredictable shocked the hell out of me. Hands down, but I really didn’t see that coming at all. I’m impressed that Ms. Holden bravely opted for presenting this kind of twist that unquestionably would break a lot of hearts and probably gained her a lot of haters (Kidding. But I considered being one for a sec). But she had purpose for all this. Well, come to think of it, Ms. Holden actually put signs in some beginning scenes about what the readers would face later.
Every character in this book was developed very well. Kate was the most unique character of heroine I ever read about. She was, Good God, so positive about life and with everything thrown into her path. But not like most good persons who tended to appear weak and such, she was a total badass. A really good badass. She knew exactly when to get all soft and when to kick someone’s ass. She knew which people deserved her good side and which ones deserved her bad side. Not that she had any bad side. Her light personality, her broad-minded and mature perspective in seeing people and the way they act; she’s really awesome. Truthfully, I was a little skeptical of her too-good personality at first, moreover when I read scenes when she actually didn’t mind with people treating her badly. Not because she’s a weak but because she believed everyone had a reason to be who they are now and to never judge them simply by their doing. But the further I read, the more I realized how amazing this girl. With circumstances she was in, she still managed to appreciate life with all her heart and even help people with all her might. There was this thing she said that makes me adore her more,

‘Don’t judge each other. We all have our own shit. Keep your eyes on yours and your nose out of everyone else’s unless you’re invited in. And when you get the invitation, help, don’t judge.’ 

(Sunday, January 22; Bright Side)
I think it’d be such real advice for a lot of people, including me. Not that I’m like that all the time, but sometimes we did that without we even realized it. And learning from Kate, she’s really a great person who never judge people whatever they do.
Keller, even though his introduction was short, all of his scenes were enough to make me head over heels for him. His life was no fairytale either, but unlike Kate who stayed positive every damn time, Keller thought it was okay to give in and just went along with his own misery. Having his life mapped out neatly, Keller willingly buried deep his dream just for the sake of keeping people around him in happiness. He’d been living his life for years like that until one day someone walked through the door of the café he worked at with some noisy doorbell in the background and for once in his life, he wanted a different path to take.
Love between Kate and Keller was instant. It bloomed on the first sight. It was quick and actually kind of comical how they could go all poetic in their mind thinking of each other the moment they met for the first time. Then, everything slowly grew deeper and I couldn’t help falling in love with their love.
I became a crying mess right from December 15 all the way to the last chapter: January 27. Seeing Kate’s braveness and Keller’s strong faith for them, I felt like witnessing a true real love story. My heart ached for them and I wished I could do something to make things better for them but in the end I was once again reminded that a sweet true love story isn’t necessary to have a happy ending. I was reminded to see the bright side of a tragedy.
Bright Side is the book you would enjoy for breaking your heart and making you accept that just fine. Because sometimes it takes the hurtful way to learn something important. This book broke my heart into pieces but it also taught me to put it back together and glued them tightly with ‘acceptance paste’.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t put this book too long on my TBR list ;)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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