I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book. There were times I really wanted to stop reading but kept on because it was my book club pick and I wanted to be able to discuss it. Then something strange happened…about 40% of the way through the book I ended up really liking it and actually found myself crying at the end. Suffice to say, there were things I really liked about this book and things I did not.
Kate’s best friend Gus calls her Bright Side because of her sunny personality and her outlook on life despite a less than ideal childhood and some tragic happenings she’s had to endure. When she decides to leave her hometown and attend college halfway across the country, he’s nervous for her and also proud. Kate is looking forward to this next phase in her life but she’s hiding a secret…a big one. Keller Banks also has a secret but when he falls in love with Kate, he decides to throw caution to the wind and open his heart to her. Will Kate and Keller get a happy ending? Or will their secrets be too much for them?
Right off the bat, I thought I wouldn’t like this book. I didn’t like the writing style or how the author, Kim Holden, structured the book. The use of conversational writing can get on my nerves and this book was no exception. The manner in which Kate and Gus spoke was probably accurate for their ages but it was a bit grating, as was the constant swearing. I am not offended by the use of language, but I was getting tired with the repetitiveness of it. The character of Kate eventually grew on me and her views on life made more sense as the book went along but I found her tiresome over the first half of the book. When she’s discussing love and how she has never fallen in love, I found myself rolling my eyes and wanting to shout “you’re 19 years old and already complaining about not having been in love? Pump the brakes.” Of course, her views made much more sense at the end of the book but I can’t discuss that without giving away the ending. As I said earlier, JUST when I was about to throw in the towel and give up on this book, Holden revealed more about the characters that kept me interested and engaged. It still didn’t stop being melodramatic (and this book had TONS of melodrama) but I found myself wanting to see how it ended and ultimately was glad I finished it. I was surprised by how much I cried at the end and how emotionally invested in Kate and Keller I was. I actually found myself appreciating Kate’s world view and being upset at the hard life she had. In the end, things made sense and came together and I found that I liked this book more than I thought I would.
Despite ultimately liking the book, I would hesitate to recommend this to people. Partly because it took me so long to get into it and partly because I don’t know the demographic that I think would enjoy this. After finishing it, I found out its part of a series. Maybe I will read the follow ups one day but I don’t feel any desire to rush out and grab the second book.
Author: Kim Holden
Rating: 3.5 Stars