It’s no secret I loved Queens of Geek by Wilde. So I had the highest expectations for The Brightsiders. And I was blown away. This book is fantastic and it made me geek out in the best of ways.
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 and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, 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 Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.
Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?
There are three main reasons I loved this book: the diversity, the main character’s struggles, and the storyline. So basically I loved this book because it’s amazing? You’ve got that right. Emmy is bi and she’s surrounded by a crew of other diverse characters: Korean American, gender queer, nonbinary, questioning rep, social anxiety, and more. They intersect in fabulous and nuanced ways. I don’t want you to think that they’re reduced to their diversity – their individual characters are emotional and great characters over all. (I’m only mentioning it because people who might be interested in the representation might enjoy knowing this!)
Furthermore, these characters talk about the struggles the stereotypes, the misconceptions, and more. There are nuanced conversations about speaking out, reversing the expectations we had in our head, and finding true friendships.
The Main Character – Emmy
Now the thing I may have loved the most about The Brightsiders is that Emmy is so utterly relatable. Emmy struggles with toxic relationships. As someone who has had close encounters with toxic relationships, this was so fantastic to read. This was the book I needed to read as a high schooler. I needed to read about someone going through similar struggles and trying to find their way. It took me years to get out of it, and even longer to stop internalizing it.
I think we all know that we can feel like our life is a mess, that we keep making bad decisions one after the other, and we can’t seem to shake it. When we can’t break this hold another person has on you, when it’s so toxic you don’t know what clean air is like, and when they pull you in like a planet spinning further out of control in their orbit.
(Some other things I loved was that Emmy talks about using makeup as self-expression, as armor, and I always love when this is made clear!)
The Brightsiders is about embracing our own narrative, not living our lives for others, and not allowing other people to control how we see ourselves. Check out The Brightsiders on Goodreads.