Published: May 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Literary Fiction
Sometimes, in this age of Bookstagram, it feels like I have so many expectations for every book I pick up to read. Whether it’s from the media release sent to me by the publisher, or from the countless other bloggers whose opinions I’ve already absorbed, I have something in mind when I dive into a new book. I’m picking up books everyone else is reading, and I’m pretty good at knowing which ones I’m going to love based on which of my internet friends already loved it.
But I remember the days where I spent hours at the bookstore browsing the shelves of books I hadn’t yet heard of, looking for a cover or a blurb that caught my attention, and taking a leap of faith and bringing that book (okay… let’s be real, books) home with me. It was different back then because I never looked up reviews before I read them. I didn’t want to know anything about a book before I read it. I wanted to experience it completely on its own, without anyone else’s opinion clouding my judgement. And while I love the countless voices I now get to interact with on instagram every day, I’ve missed that element of surprise that used to be so natural in my reading.
Which is why my experience with Samuel Miller’s A Lite Too Bright was such a fun one. I picked this one up at a Barnes and Noble sale. I had never heard of it before. I’d never seen it’s cover on Bookstagram before (which is honestly a shame, because have you seen this gorgeous thing? It’s perfect for Instagram), and it was the cover that really drew me to it. I was intrigued by the misspelling in the title. I was fascinated by the synopsis, and drawn in on a personal note as someone who has lost grandparents to dementia. I was also intrigued by the fact that the author was so young.
If you were like me and had never heard of it before, A Lite Too Bright is the story of Arthur Louis Pullman the Third, the grandson of the literary genius who penned what is considered to be one of The Great American Novels. Arthur has recently lost his college scholarship and is losing a grip on his life. He is sent away to live with an aunt and uncle, and from there he starts to find clues about his grandfather, the famous author who spent much of his life living with Alzheimer’s, and who mysteriously disappeared a week before his death. Determined to piece together what happened during his grandfather’s last week, Arthur travels across the country by train, learning about his family and himself in ways he never could have imagined.
I was completely mesmerized by this novel. It swept me up from the very beginning and I flew through it. In fact, I read the final 300 pages of it on an airplane, completely distracted from the fact that I don’t particularly care for flying. This book asks big political and philosophical questions, it poses thoughts about mental health, it takes a look at what it means to be a good friend and family member. It takes you on an adventure and is a great deal of fun to read, and it will also leave you in tears with a big lump in your throat by the end (at least that’s what it did to me–a little embarrassing for the person sitting next to me on the plane).
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one of my favorites I had read in a while, for the story, the questions it posed, the writing, all of it. It was different than anything I’ve come across recently, and I loved that. There were things that made this book perhaps maybe not the most realistic… and I had some questions at the end that I’d be curious to see how they’d hold up with a reread. But even so, I still had so much fun reading this book, and I had very real feelings reading it. I’ll be very interested to follow whatever work this young author releases next! And while I’m very glad I was able to find this one completely on my own… I am hoping I can be the one that recommends it to someone out there who might also love it. And if you do love it… please let me know!