This review is spoiler free.
“There I am, smirking, wearing bright purple lipstick, with my new motto written on the mirror behind me.
DON’T MESS WITH THE GIRL WEARING PURPLE LIPSTICK.
Excitement buzzes in my stomach. This is it.”
Published: 2019, by Square Fish.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Contains: Strong Language, Alcohol, Drugs, Neglect, Child Abuse, Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Anxiety, Social Anxiety
Jen Wilde’s ‘The Brightsiders’ tells the fun-loving story of Emmy King, the drummer of the hit band, The Brightsiders. After a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded a train wreck by the paparazzi. Luckily, her band mates are there to help her pick up the pieces.
I’ve been adding ‘The Brightsiders’ to my wish lists for the past few years now, and after finding it at Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) earlier this year, I knew I had to delve into the story as soon as possible. And what a story it was…
This is the kind of LGBT novel I’ve been desperate to read for a long time coming. Every character portrays the LGBT community so well, with the correct portrayal of healthy relationships, pronouns and general view on the community from the outside. It’s completely unapologetic, and has got a hell of a lot of drama for barely three-hundred pages, but it’s a whirlwind which accurately portrays Emmy’s life in that moment. With discussions such as queerness, misgendering and biphobic behaviour, this novel represents many readers lives in such a casual and accurate way.
Emmy King is the novel’s spotlighted protagonist, with an amazing character development that keeps you reading. She’s imperfect, with many different errors in her past, yet she accepts and overcomes those mistakes; she learns from them. While also confronting her past, Emmy also confronts the present, presenting the media in its toxic form and giving us someone to route for; Emmy’s courage throughout the novel was inspiring to read. Although, Emmy has her flaws, she desperately tries to fix them, proving her worth to those reading.
Alfie is another character who I found extremely wonderful. They’re caring, considerate, and brave in their own ways when representing what it’s like to live with anxiety. Although, that representation was in the background of the novel, it was still presented in an accurate way, making the character so much more three-dimensional.
It’s impossible for me not to mention Ryan briefly, however, who was so much like Alfie in many ways. Also, kind and considerate, he’s incredibly supportive and was simply a joy to read.
Overall, ‘The Brightsiders’ is a fun-loving, huggable read, with characters you can’t help but love and a simple plot to follow.
Who’s your favourite courageous protagonist?