The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

My review of ‘Bright Side’ by Kim Holden (aka open WEEPING in a typed format)

on March 5, 2016

brightside

Bright Side. Kim Holden. Do Epic LLC. July 2014.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.


When I first started reading Bright Side, I knew I was going to love the book, but I wasn’t quite sure where the plot was going. It felt sitcom-like in the sense that there were plenty of humorous scenes, but they didn’t really contribute to a long-running story arc…we kept getting introduced to funny new side characters, and there was lots of banter, and everything was generally nice and smooth-sailing. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a pleasant ride, and there were plenty of lines that had me laughing out loud (which is always a good sign), but I wasn’t really feeling the story emotionally. BUT THEN…

As the blurb says… ‘some secrets will end you’… I thought the blurb was just being melodramatic, BUT…

MY GOD DID THIS ONE END ME!!!!

The reveal was like a punch in the stomach, and SUDDENLY Bright Side became the biggest emotional rollercoaster of a story I’ve ever read.

From a certain scene which brought tears to my eyes, it was like the freaking floodgates opened and I COULDN’T STOP CRYING. I’m just gonna put this out there… I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much whilst reading a book in my entire life. Scene after scene had me bawling like a baby. My mum actually came up to my room to ask me if I was okay. This book DEHYDRATED me. So much so that when I woke up the morning after finishing it I had a stonking great headache because there was basically no fluid left in my body – I cried it all out of me the night before.

This definitely sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I assure you I’m not.

If you’re okay with having your heart ripped out of your chest by a book, I highly recommend this one. The characters are completely loveable (which, FYI, is why the second half of the book will literally destroy you).

Kate was a fantastic protagonist, and although there are plenty of chapters from Keller’s perspective, I enjoyed hers the most. Kate is the kind of narrator who makes you forget you’re reading a book because she sounds so much like a real person telling you anecdotes. She calls everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) ‘dude’, coffee is like crack to her (to the extent that she literally plans her life around when she can get her hands on a cup), and she nails straight-talking wisdom without being rude or snarky about it. You can’t help but love her.

“I love giving out compliments. Not kiss-ass, brown nose, I-just-want-to-make-you-feel-good compliments, but genuine, no bullshit, I-mean-it-because-I-feel-it-in-my-heart compliments.”

As you can probably tell from the title of the book, Kate has a tendency to look on the bright side of life, but not in a sickly, saccharine Pollyanna kind of a way… Kate is simply a tough person, who has had to deal with… to put it bluntly, a lot of shit in her life, but has remained strong throughout and has never once complained about the hand she’s been dealt.

“Today, my life is awesome.
I don’t want to think about tomorrow.
Or the day after that.
So I repeat to myself: Today, my life is awesome.”

She’s also a selfless one; Kate keeps everything to herself (sometimes not even clueing in the reader until she finally opens up to another character) simply because she doesn’t want to burden the people she loves with her suffering.

Kate’s tendency to see the best in other people (which sounds cheesy, but somehow it really wasn’t), was one the of things I loved most about her… from her blasé roommate Sugar who steals her stuff and is constantly kicking Kate out of her room to hook up with random guys, to her bitchy aunt Maddie who hasn’t a single nice thing to say, Kate manages to find good in everyone, and in cases like these where it’s well hidden, she has a strange knack of drawing it out of them eventually.

“I’ve always been pretty good at accepting the whole of someone, the good with the bad. I see it all, but try not to let it cloud my judgment. People are complicated. Life is complicated.”

Keller was a total sweetheart, and I spent most of the book just wanting to give him the biggest hug. When we first meet him he’s a little lost, because for so long he’s let his parents’ expectations dictate his path in life, and he’s clearly never been truly at ease with the decisions he’s made (particularly surrounding the secret he’s keeping from his friends at Grant). I loved how meeting Kate (or Katie, as he affectionately decides to call her) helped him to see things in a new light, and face up to what he really wants out of life.

“It scares me how much I like her. She makes me want to say screw it all and rewrite my future.”

One of the things I loved most about Keller was the way he acted around a certain person in his life (I can’t say much more about this because it’s a massive spoiler if I do) – those scenes gave me a total fit of the OMGTHISISADORABLEs. (Yeah, that’s a thing).

Whilst I loved Kate and Keller together, I also had a huge soft spot for Kate’s best friend Gus. It’s hard for me to describe the relationship between Kate and Gus, because although it wasn’t romantic (at least from her perspective), it wasn’t exactly platonic either.

Gus is the lead singer in a band and touring the country for the first time, whilst Kate is in her first year at college studying to be a teacher, so for most of the book, their separate lives mean most of their conversations take place over Skype rather than face to face. Even though they weren’t geographically close, theirs is one of the deepest friendships I’ve encountered in fiction – it came across as true love, pure and simple. Every scene between these two made me smile, and I loved that Gus ALWAYS made time for Kate, even though all this crazy, exciting stuff was happening in his life. Friendship like Gus and Kate’s = GOALS.

“No Bright Side, listen, you are so special. You deserve someone who takes you out on real dates. Someone who buys you flowers and shit. Because if there’s anyone in this world who’s capable of insane amounts of love and who deserves to be loved that way in return, it’s you.”

I can’t talk too much about the plot of this book, because so much of it relies on the secrets the characters are keeping, which are slowly unravelled throughout the story. All I can really tell you is that, whilst devastating, Bright Side isn’t bleak. You’ll come away with a reaffirmed sense of how precious life is, and how lucky you are to be surrounded by people you love.

Please, please, please people, go out and read this amazing book! Just make sure you remove your makeup first, and have somebody close by to HOLD YOU when you reach the final page.


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8 responses to “My review of ‘Bright Side’ by Kim Holden (aka open WEEPING in a typed format)

  1. I read the first paragraph. Please tell me there are no spoilers so I can read more. I really don’t wanna get spoiled for this.

  2. To put it lightly… I am really excited to read this book. Thanks for the awesome review. I would read this as soon as I finish the one I am currently reading.

  3. Annelise Lestrange says:

    You reading this book was me reading Carry On. That was my exact reaction! HAHAHA ❤ I don't know if this book will be my cup of tea, but you make books look so good! I may give it a try ❤

    • mudandstars says:

      Hahaha from what you’ve told me it was a very similar reaction! But you had that reaction from a happy book haha, I’m not sure how you would cope with this one lol! Well if you like romance and you don’t mind tearjerkers then you’ll enjoy the book 🙂 I personally loved it!

      • Annelise Lestrange says:

        Fair enough, haha! I actually have a fragile heart (aka made of butter), so I avoid sad books because they leave me broken 😅 I guess this one isn’t really for me, God knows when I’d recover 😂 (ps: did you receive the book club email?? I sent it from my phone, so I’m not sure if it got delivered, sorry 😅)

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