Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
Jonah is at a new school in a wealthy town. He has a new baby sister and a new ready-made family including his mom’s new husband. He doesn’t want any part of it. His heart and his life are still where he grew up in Hamilton.
Brighton is just trying to make it through the hours until her father’s memorial service, scheduled for five years after his death. She’s anticipating a break down from her mother, zero help in organizing from her sister and still has to figure out how to get the new kid to participate in a service project on Sunday. If she can only convince Jonah to show up, she’ll earn the same award her father received when he attended her high school. Without her father around, it’s one way for her to feel like she has his approval.
Over the course of the book, Jonah and Brighton end up revealing themselves to each other and in the process end up learning some things about themselves.
A lot happens in this particular 24 hours, since the main characters begin as virtual strangers. Jonah starts the day out with a girlfriend, Carly, which certainly adds a degree of difficulty in coming to the final solution. Despite the condensed nature of the courtship, I didn’t feel like it asked readers to suspend disbelief too much. Instead, Schmidt captured that elusive feeling that sometimes seems particular to the teen years, where your whole world can shift in an evening.
Age Recommendation: Grades 7+ While there’s profanity, the f-word goes unused. The romance is sweet with some hot and heavy kissing, but nothing further explicitly stated, which is perfect for readers who want to read about love and dating but aren’t yet comfortable with more graphic or advanced relations. There is definitely teenage drinking, but it is handled in a really honest way. Jonah has a sip of beer and Brighton makes it very clear that she does not drink in situations where she is not comfortable. Teens do drink and showing that they do make choices (sometimes better than others) regarding their alcohol will feel real to readers.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A female says that a lot of kids at a certain school are teenage parents. Jonah’s mother had him at 19; it was an accidental pregnancy. People are attracted to each other and date. A female organized a “naked race”. A couple nuzzles and kisses. There’s talk about fake boobs. A guy is accused of cheating on his girlfriend. A woman cheated on her husband and became pregnant with another man’s baby. Condoms are mentioned. There’s talk about looking sexy and Jonah thinks a lot about a female’s figures and curves. A couple kisses passionately. There are insinuations about what a couple is doing. A female says she was trying to get someone out of his jeans. Someone has a reputation of always getting women out of their clothes. This is not presented in a positive way, rather that he is somewhat of a predator. Someone thinks about his ex-girlfriend’s underwear collection. He thinks white cotton panties are hot. A character thinks a someone’s hair looks likes she either had sex or wants sex. A character spends a lot of time thinking about kissing someone and pulling her close. He thinks about having an erection. A character asks another to take off his shirt. A couple kisses, it is described, they pull closer. The exchange lasts a few pages with interrupts but is not incredibly steamy. It is implied that a couple has been intimate, but the reader is really left to determine what that means.
Profanity – “damn”, “hell”, “crappy”, “screwup”, “screw you”, “dammit”, “God”, a middle finger is extended, “balls”, “asshole”, “pansy”, “scumbag”, “jerk”, “bast-“, Curse words are graffiti in a park. “pencil dick”,
Death, Violence and Gore – Brighton’s father has passed away. Someone was nearly mugged. The air smells of cigarette smoke. A teen shoves another teen. A teen is threatened, her arm is grabbed. Two teens almost fight.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – There is beer at a party and teens are drinking. The main characters talk about drinking. Keg stands are mentioned. A guy says he won’t let someone “get roofied”. A girl has to refuse a drink multiple times: she is offered alcohol to mix in her soda and a shot with a chaser. Sometimes drink is spiked (alcohol is added without consent or knowledge). A teen tried to sneak a beer to lunch at school.
Frightening or Intense Things – Dealing with grief, Brighton’s mother wasn’t parenting, dealing with depression (not outwardly stated), dealing with divorce, being blamed by a parent.