The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts was the most emotionally taxing book I have ever read, but in the best way possible. Within the pages of this work of historical fiction, I experienced the pains and pleasures of friendship and love. Not only did this book conjure up deep emotions within me as I read, but it lead me to a greater understanding and appreciation for those whose stories are lost within the pages of our history, yet need to be told.
Restraints and walls are all Brighton Freidrich has ever known. Since birth, Brighton’s life has been stored away within the walls of Riverside Home, a countryside asylum where her mother is a patient. Joann, a nurse at Riverside, has nurtured and taught Brighton, with intangible hopes that maybe one day maybe Brighton would see more than the clawed brick asylum walls. A friendship with Angel, a boy at the asylum, makes the years of Brighton’s childhood bearable. As the two friends grow older they both begin to question why they are kept behind the walls as if they are like the other patients. Finding a way of escape, Brighton and Angel slip into the great unknown of the real world. With only each other and the clothes on their backs, Brighton and Angel find that the world outside Riverside walls, may be more brutal than what they experience inside.
I have to begin by saying that I probably would have never picked up this book if I didn’t personally know Mrs. Younts. I first read her other recently published book, The Solace of Water, which also blew me away and highly exceeded my expectations. My hopes were set very high for The Bright Unknown and they were greatly surpassed.
Not many works of fiction that I read for pure entertainment impact me, but after reading Brighton’s story, though it may be fictional, I had a changed mindset.
The friendship of Brighton and Angel was unlike many other friendships in works of fiction, because their friendship was real and it grew naturally. There were times throughout the book where Angel and Brighton did not see eye to eye, yet there were other times that were purely heart melting and sweet.
The Bright Unknown came alive as I walked alongside Angel and Brighton in their life journey. I was caught up in the pages and connected emotionally to the characters through the writing style. Mrs. Younts’ beautiful writing has a way of personally connecting the reader to the characters.
Brighton and Angel’s story taught me that there are people who have stories and lives that are consumed by the pages of history and never uncovered. Yet these stories are just as valuable as the great stories in history. Within every person there is a story of hurt and pain, love and friendship, and they are all precious to their posterity.
For anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is looking for a book that will immerse your senses and emotions, I would highly recommend The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts.
Until next time fellow ramblers,