The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts: Book Review
About the Book
Book: The Bright Unknown
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Two young friends embark upon an epic journey across 1940s middle America in search of answers, a family, and a place to call home.
The only kind of life Brighton Turner understands is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of a rural Pennsylvania asylum. A nurse has thoughtfully educated and raised Brighton, but she has also kept vital information from her in order to keep her close. Brighton befriends a boy whom she calls Angel—he doesn’t know his name—and as the two of them learn more about what lies beyond the walls they call home, they fight for their release and eventually escape.
However, the world outside the only place they’ve ever known is not what they expect. They have no real names, no money, and no help—and they must rely upon the kindness of strangers as they walk and hitchhike from Pennsylvania to Michigan to find their last hope of a home.
This heartbreaking journey, narrated in gorgeous prose, explores what it means to belong—and to scour the universe with fresh eyes for the brightness within.
Click here to grab your copy!
Not for the faint of heart.
The Bright Unknown is not afraid to take you into the darkness that surrounded mental institutions in the 1920s. During those years, women could be dropped off by their husbands simply because they ‘were not happy enough’. Yes. It happened. And the things that happened to those women will break your heart.
But all is not lost.
For Brighton and Angel, this place is home. Although she has nothing else to compare it to, Brighton knows that the patients’ treatment is unfair and brutal. Some of the actions and procedures are described but nothing in enough detail to derail the story.
I was immediately drawn into this story. I had to see how it would end. Based on the blurb, I knew Angel and Brighton would escape, but I needed to know what their life would be like outside the institution’s walls. I was not disappointed.
With lyrical prose and deeply-rooted characters, The Bright Unknown takes the ugliest of hurts and turns them into a masterpiece of hope and recovery.
Some readers might find the material in this book disturbing. While it is not overly graphic, it does have some potential triggers. These sections can be skipped over without taking away from the overall message.
I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.
More from Elizabeth
The Bright Unknown was born out of a seed of a true story that my husband’s grandmother, Gigi, shared with me. Gigi told me that when she was a young girl living in Oklahoma her mom had a friend who was a nurse. During one of her visits over coffee she would occasionally talk about her patients at the local asylum. One particular story really intrigued Gigi and even decades later she still remembered it. The story was about a patient who had a baby while at the hospital and while Gigi remembers nothing about the patient or the child, she knew that when she moved out of Oklahoma several years later that asylum-born girl was around eighteen and still living within the walls of that hospital along with her patient-mother.
That story stuck with me. This trapped girl and her mother wouldn’t let me go. I began to wonder over her and ask all sorts of unanswered questions. Slowly but surely my imagined story for her came to life. Layer after layer I learned about Brighton, my name for her. I also named two characters after Gigi, her first and middle, as an honor to her. This story was born from a memory but now these characters feel real and present in my life today and I hope you will journey with them in The Bright Unknown.