Title: Riding with Brighton
Author: Haven Francis
Publisher: Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press
Length: 220 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Teen Fiction
At a Glance: I LOVED this book, you guys. It has a strong Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe, which was so fantastic and fun. And, reading it reminded me of reading Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is like the highest of compliments.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Yesterday, Jay was convinced his life was damaged beyond repair.
Yesterday, Brighton was sure his life was perfect.
Then today happened.
Realizing he’s wasted his life in the meaningless pursuit of popularity and athleticism, Jay Hall knows he has nothing in common with alternative, free-thinking artist Brighton Bello-Adler. But he’s determined to change that.
Brighton’s managed to fill his life with an eclectic mix of people and interests that keep him satisfied. As the only gay guy in his small town, the one thing that’s missing is a man, but Jay’s not gay, so Brighton’s not sure what he’ll gain by letting him into his life. Still, he’s willing to find out.
Heading off on an impromptu road trip, the boys chart a course connecting their worlds, and along the way discover pieces of themselves they didn’t know were missing. As the sun rises on a new day, Jay and Brighton know their lives have changed. Now they just have to figure out how to live in them.
In a fresh and clever romance that turns stereotypes upside down, the journey to coming out and coming of age is full of challenges and surprises, but ultimately, acceptance and love.
Review: Jay Hall has had an epiphany. He wakes on Friday morning in the midst of a life-changing moment of clarity, and decides he needs to change his path. The kids he has always considered his friends are, with one or two exceptions, not the people he wants to be spending time with, nor is he the person he wants to be. The only thing he knows for sure is that in history class he’ll see Brighton, something he looks forward to every day, and suddenly, desperately needs. Thus begins the crazy, awesome, inspiring journey that is Riding with Brighton.
Brighton doesn’t know what to make of it, at first, when Jay says he wants to hang out and asks Brighton to meet him at the park. He’s pretty sure that Jay is having an “Am I gay?” moment, and wants Brighton, the only known gay guy in town, to help him clarify things. Brighton isn’t keen on this idea at all, but decides to humor Jay and invites him along on his errands for the day. A sort of day-in-the-life-of-Brighton, if you will. What Brighton doesn’t know is how deep Jay’s feelings for him already are. The day is a rollercoaster, mostly for Jay, but what they discover about each other and themselves is eye-opening for them both. Jay goes from being elated at the thought of finally being his true self, to terrified and filled with doubt. And then back again. Brighton is with him every step of the way, though, and some others in his life surprise him as well.
I looooved Brighton. He’s funny, kind, smart, and self-assured, yet also has some lingering insecurities from his last relationship. His family is also totally amazing. It’s clear where he gets his wonderful traits and approach to life from. And, Jay…this kid blew me away. The stuff that came out of him during his day with Brighton showed so much depth and heart. He’s awesome. And, I also loved Jay’s dad so, so much. I guarantee that every single person who reads this book will fall in love with him.
The dual POVs were so appreciated. I think it was important to be in Brighton’s head as well as Jay’s. With such an important coming out journey, it’s nice to have perspective from multiple players. And, the messages and questions raised by the book were fantastic. Messages like be yourself, and don’t do anything just because you think it will make you cool, or because you think it’s what other people want you to do. And, questions like ‘why are we so wired to care so much what other people think?’ And, this little gem that comes to Jay after his epiphany…
Change your life now.
Find your happiness now.
Be yourself now.
Speak your mind now.
If not, you’re gonna have regret. And regret totally sucks.
I LOVED this book, you guys. It has a strong Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe, which was so fantastic and fun. And, reading it reminded me of reading Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is like the highest of compliments. Just that feeling, right from the get-go, that the author has nailed it. Mostly I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling the entire time, but I also cried at the end. There was so much humor and love in the story, and so many awww-inspiring moments; I truly, completely adored it. Haven Francis absolutely won me over with Brighton and Jay. It’s tough to write a YA/NA book with the authentic voice this one has. I have no doubt I’ll end up reading it again at some point.
You can buy Riding with Brighton here: