Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Matthew Crow
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Francis has always felt like a loner. His feelings are multiplied tenfold when he begins to feel ill and is diagnosed with cancer. Soon Francis must be admitted to a facility for in-patient care. He is roomed with four other teens also suffering from cancer, but only one matters: Amber. Amber is everything Francis is not. She is strong and brave and proud. Even in the throes of her illness she is able to tease and joke with Francis. She is impossible not to love. Eventually Francis begins to improve, and the time comes for him to leave the facility. He is happy to be going home, but sad to leave Amber behind. As Amber's condition deteriorates and Francis's improves, they are both forced to confront growing up, falling in love, death, and life after.
Initially, The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise feels like a cheap knockoff of The Fault In Our Stars. The novel lacks depth and emotion. For a novel written on such a hard topic, the thoughts of the characters are very surface-level. The reader struggles to understand Francis and figure out what is actually happening in his head. Francis comes across as a needy teenage boy, naive and unfocused. This type of character can be difficult for a reader to like. Aside from the characters, the book seems to skip over the important parts while dragging on in the useless background information. However, it's still a touching story, one about young love and saying goodbye. Readers of The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise will need to take it for what it is without comparing it to other stories.
*Contains moderate language, moderate sexual content, and moderate substance abuse.