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Reviewed by:
Schmidt, Tiffany. Bright before Sunrise. Walker, 2014. [304p]. ISBN 978-0-8027-3500-3 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10.

Jonah has a huge chip on his shoulder after his mother divorces his father, remarries, and moves the family to the ritzy town Jonah can’t wait to leave after his upcoming graduation. Brighton lives in the shadow of her psychologist father, whose death has left her determined to follow his advice on making the world a better place through optimism and good works. Her attempts to reach out to Jonah, whom she sees as the grumpy new kid, are rejected out of hand, but she persists, because if she can get him to volunteer, she will have achieved full participation for Key Club, something only her father was able to accomplish before her. Through a series of events, they end up going to a disastrous party, which turns into an all-nighter of getting to know each other’s secrets and breaking down walls. Although the premise is admittedly cheesy, Brighton and Jonah are both well-developed, likably flawed characters. Their romance develops slowly but sweetly, with the inevitable misreadings of actions and intentions showcased through their alternating narration. Jonah is enough of a hound to amp up the sexy but self-aware enough to keep it under control; Brighton is severely nice even when she wishes she weren’t. Their perspectives reveal telling gender differences without overplaying or caricaturing them; in short, the kinds of things that could go wrong with a book like this don’t, and readers will drift pleasantly along through a night that ends in a well-earned kiss. Along the way, the book tells the story of how that first love can help you see the good and the bad through new eyes and launch you out of yourself toward becoming someone that you like better.

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