The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
Goodreads Summary: A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.
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?
TW/CW: Some challenged homophobia, challenged biphobia, parental abandonment/abuse, alcohol abuse, slut shaming, relationship abuse/manipulation, panic/anxiety attacks
REPRESENTATION: Bi main character, non-binary love interest, a non-binary side biracial character, other POC +Queer side characters, love interest also has anxiety.
Themes: Conversations about biphobia, the importance of self-love and self-care, found family can be your actual family, the importance of letting go emotionally/mentally abusive relationships, difficulties of being biracial, conversations surrounding anxiety.
My Personal Star Rating: 4/5 Stars
Why YOU should read this: I think this was significantly better than Queens of Geek. Before going into this, I was expecting maybe a queer rom com but this book dealt with a lot of hard-hitting and real topics. We see our main character– Emmy King– deal with abusive and manipulative parents AND see her be with someone who undermines her at the same time all while dealing with public pressure and opinion. The book also deals with Emmy’s struggle with coming out in the public as bisexual. One of the minor parts of the book that I absolutely LOVED was when Emmy’s friend, Chloe, was talking about being Black and White. I especially related when they were talking about how their white mom doesn’t “get it” when it comes to issues pertaining to black people and how they often feel like their mom uses them for diversity points. Overall, this was a solid story. The romance was swoon-worthy and the multiple friendship dynamics in the novel really enhanced the reading experience for me. Anxiety was depicted well in the story and I appreciated the discussions how a person shouldn’t let their loved ones step over them and to be a little “selfish.” Some people who come for more functioning homes don’t understand how a person can just cut off their family and I believe Emmy’s story really successfully showcases the justification. Therefore, because of the topics discussed, you should definitely give this book a try.
Any Gripes?: Just like Queens of Geek, the writing was way too simplistic for me. There was also some cringe-worthy dialogue but if you look past those minor details, I do still think this is a strong book. However, if you really focus on writing, you might struggle with this one.
Have you read Running With Lions? Let me know your thoughts below!