REVIEW #21 | “The Brightsiders”



Title: “The Brightsiders”

Author: Jen Wilde

Pages (hardcover): 297 pages

Original Publishing Date: 22 May 2018

Synopsis (from the inside flap):

“As a rock star drummer in the hit band, The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash burn and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in the hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

“Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alife just. Keep. Kissing.

“Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand her own?”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • vomiting
  • alcoholism/alcohol abuse
  • emotional manipulation (from partner and parents)
  • gaslighting (from partner and parents)
  • abusive relationship and parents (if that wasn’t obvious already)

Representation in the novel:

  • f/f relationship
  • m/m relationship
  • f/genderqueer relationship
  • bi black non-binary femme
  • pansexual genderqueer person with social anxiety disorder
  • bisexual girl
  • Korean-American bi boy
  • black wlw

⭐⭐⭐ .5
3.5/5 stars

Can we just appreciate all of that goddamn representation for a moment? Look at that list. Really look at it. I fucking wish every single thing I read had a list of rep that long, and longer. Ugh.

The Brightsiders follows Emmy King, a drummer in a well-known band, the Brightsiders. She recently got caught drinking under age and getting into a car accident, which prompts her to try and change things around for herself with the help of her friends. Along with that, she has to deal with her shitty parents, her shitty girlfriend, and the shitty paparazzi. Oh, and along with that, she may or may not be acquiring some feelings for her band mate, Alfie! Gotta love it.

I’m not going to lie, the writing really wasn’t the best. It was a fun read, don’t get me wrong, and I ended up really liking a lot of the characters, but the writing itself just didn’t click with me. It might have been because I usually don’t read books about teen celebrities because they aren’t my thing, but, well. The cover caught my eye, and I decided to give it a chance.

However, even if I did have some issues with the writing, I absolutely adored a lot of the characters. Em was a nice character in and of herself. Even though I was never really in an abusive relationship, I can understand the extreme doubt and not feeling like you deserve good things. Also, Alfie? Adorable. I love Alfie to bits; he was such a cute character, and I love how his SAD was addressed in the book. It was just part of who he was, and not a moral failing. And he’s pansexual. Like. The term “pansexual” was explicitly used, and I so squealed when I read that. Oh my goodness. And Ryan, he was wonderful, too. He supported Em and Alfie so much, and vice versa.

I think one of my my most favorite thing about this book is the emphasis on found/chosen family. Emmy may have a shitty biological family and shitty (ex)girlfriend, but her chosen family is so good for her, and they love her so much. And vice versa. The bond she has not only with Alfie and Ryan, but with Chloe, Charlie, and Alyssa, was absolutely wonderful. And it was said multiple times throughout the book how important found/chosen family is, and I couldn’t agree more.

So, while the writing seemed a bit lacking for my taste, The Brightsiders was still a fun read, and I really appreciated the amount of diversity that was in it, along with the importance of found family.

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