Cover Image: The Bright Unknown

The Bright Unknown

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.’ - Saint Francis
‘As long as I kept my eyes open, there was always a sliver of light to follow’ - Brighton

What an incredible book! The author caught my attention with the beginning when voices of the past, found in a canister of 35mm film, wanted to be developed and brought into the light. What follows is a very honest look at what life was like for young Brighton growing up in Riverside Home for the Insane. Fortunately she was loved and cared for by Nursey, who taught her how to read and writer. She had one friend, an albino boy she named Angel, as he had no other name. She shared her knowledge with him and they spent many hours in the graveyard playing and making up stories about the names on the stones.

There is much sadness in this very honest look at what life was like in the Home. The characters are so well developed I felt like I knew them. The plot gathered me in and didn’t let me go until I reached the most wonderful and unexpected ending. 

There was always that hope .... ‘As long as I kept my eyes open, there was always a sliver of light to follow’ - Brighton

This copy was received through NetGalley, Thomas Nelson and CelebrateLit. The impressions and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
EXCERPT: I didn't know when I stopped struggling, but at some point I did. I didn't feel the razor run across my scalp; I only felt the closeness of Nurse Wilma's hot and soft body that smelled of night-shift sweat. The stench made my stomach jerk and sputter, but there was nothing inside to come up.

Lorna was still chanting about the yellow canary and that the mine was safe. But I knew she was wrong. The mine wasn't safe and we were all going to die here. Panic filled me while the restrains squeezed my arms and legs. The room was full of other patients, but none of them could help me. Then mother walked into the room and stood near the chair. Even though her eyes didn't seem to see me, she must have sensed something was happening to me. She rarely came out of the room on her own. My breathing heightened and I started to scream. Nurse Joann, that's who she was to me now, told me to stop, but when I wouldn't she cupped her hands over my mouth and the back of my neck with such steadfastness that I couldn't even try to bite. All I could do was listen to all the other voices and sounds in the room. But no one could hear me.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Pennsylvania, 1940s. The only life Brighton Friedrich has ever known is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of Riverside Home—the rural asylum where she was born. A nurse, Joann, has educated and raised Brighton, whose mother is a patient at the hospital. But Joann has also kept vital information from Brighton—secrets that if ever revealed would illuminate Brighton’s troubling past and the circumstances that confine her to Riverside. Brighton’s best friend is a boy she calls Angel, and as they grow up together and face the bleak future that awaits them, they determine to make a daring escape.

Nothing can prepare Brighton and Angel for life beyond Riverside’s walls. They have no legal identities, very little money, and only a few leads toward a safe place to land. As they struggle to survive in a world they’ve never seen before, they must rely on each other and the kindness of strangers—some of whom may prove more dangerous than the asylum they’ve fled.

MY THOUGHTS: Asylum means an offer of protection. But there was no protection at Riverside Home for the Insane. Quite the opposite.

I nearly stopped reading The Bright Unknown a third of the way through. I found it thoroughly depressing. But after reading Kathleen Gray's moving review, I persevered, and although I didn't love this book as she did, I did enjoy it more, and am glad I finished it.

I worked as a psychiatric nurse in the early 1970's, and although the conditions were greatly improved by then, there were still some similarities in the way that unwanted family members, those who were born with some affliction that may be an embarrassment to the family, were still hidden away in the 'chronic' wards. Electric convulsive therapy was still used extensively, though far more humanely. I do recall seeing a straightjacket, but can't ever remember one being used. Instead there were padded cells and sedatives.

There were still some of the 'old school' nurses who were cruel and treated the patients inhumanely, but they were definitely in the minority.

Reading The Bright Unknown has stirred up a slew of memories for me, some good and some not so good. I still can't really define how I feel about this book, told from Brighton's point of view over two timelines, the late 1930s/early 1940s and 1990. It is a sad book, in that those who are closest to us are often the cruelest. It shows the idiocy of the old adage 'you have to be cruel to be kind.'

I can't say that I enjoyed this book, but it was an experience. It does show that shattered lives can be rebuilt, that human spirit can overcome great adversity, and that love can conquer all.


There are two passages in particular that struck a chord in my heart:

'Weeds bloomed, but that didn't make them flowers.'

'A lot of bad had to happen for us to have all the good in our lives.'

THE AUTHOR: Award-winning author Elizabeth Byler Younts writes historical fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the Carol award-winning novel The Solace of Water, critically-acclaimed novel The Bright Unknown, and The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage
Was this review helpful?
This is one of those story that just kind of grabs you, right from the beginning. I wasn't quite sure about it....the story line is well, it's rather unusual. A bit frightening in it's strangeness, really. I have a wild imagination, and when I begin to imagine what it must have been like, really, to be in the shoes of Brighton, well, I am feeling rather terrified.

So. I guess I didn't really want to go there.

And yet, I knew I must. I've read some other books by this author, and was so touched by the last one, Solace of Water, that I knew I just had to read this one.

Brighton is a girl trapped. In a place where only insane women live, and it's the only life she's ever known. A mother that doesn't even know her because she's mad. Some of the asylum employees, including Nursey, are the only links to the outside world she's known. And her friend Angel, an albino, who lives next door in the children's ward, and is also banned from the outside world. Their friendship bond is all that's kept them sane and alive.

And then, Brighton discovers her entire life has been based on a lie.

What is real. What is imagined.

What is life really all about?

So many questions are raised, I was kept reading, wanting to know answers.

This is a beautifully woven story, so many layers, so many hints of things...when you reach the end, you will close this book, but not forget it.

I am still mulling, still pondering, over this story, it's been one that I found hard to write out, difficult to really share my thoughts about it. 

Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Was this review helpful?
It’s daunting to sit here and try to put into words everything I experienced while reading this book. It’s a deeply thoughtful novel, and beautifully written, but at times I was so angry I didn’t know if I could keep reading. The stark reality—the inhumanity—of mental health “care” in generations past, not to mention the reasons some were subjected to such “care”, is painful knowledge to open yourself to, and that’s exactly what you will do when you read Brighton’s story. And yet, by the time I turned the final page, I felt as though I had been on a healing journey with Brighton. The heartache and the pain were no less real, but I truly felt as though the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, which Brighton also held onto, had been proven true: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

I think the only reason I was able to continue reading at some points was because of the way the story was structured. The story opens in the “present day”—which, for the purposes of this story, is 1990—when Brighton, or Nell as she is now known, is sixty-seven. From that very first chapter, the reader knows that she has been married for over forty years and had children of her own, “amending her own childhood through motherhood.” That knowledge is like St Francis’s single candle, shining forth its light as the next chapter moves back to 1937 and Brighton’s childhood.

The majority of the story is then told from Brighton’s point of view as she’s growing up in the asylum, but every few chapters the reader returns to the present, where some photographs and other items from Brighton’s childhood at the asylum have been unearthed and returned to her—quite unexpectedly. These chapters were a much needed respite from the weight of Brighton’s childhood, but as painful as parts of her story were, I was utterly transfixed and almost desperate to know how it unfolded, to know how she reached a point where she was able to escape the asylum, let alone marry. And as Brighton herself says, “The wrongs can’t be righted, but remembering and knowing are important. Without remembrance, there is often repetition.”

So while this is not a book you should pick up lightly, it is definitely a book you should pick up. All else aside, if anyone can bring beauty out of such a story, it is a writer the likes of Elizabeth Byler Younts, her prose full of imagery and emotional nuance that taps into the heart of human experience.
Was this review helpful?
Eternal Souls
"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

This story really opened my eyes to the mistreatment of the patients in asylums during the early years of our country.   The reasons they were admitted and the inhumane treatments they received were horrendous.  Although the story is fiction it was so realistic of what went on in those hospitals that you felt like you were there. I felt like I could touch the concrete walls and feel the damp. I heard the screams and felt their fear.  I hope this book brings some awareness to the stigma of mental illness I know it has opened my eyes. 

The characters were perfect for the story. Brighton born and raised 18 years in that place among all the chaos. Angel the albino boy that was sent there as a young child because he was different and his parents were ashamed of him. The rejection from his mother was so sad.  Angel and Brighton's journey on the outside after they escaped was amazing. How they met some that helped like the truck driver and the ladies from the church that helped Brighton. How they met those that meant harm like Lazarus and his troupe.  How Kelly Keene helped Brighton or Nell as she now called herself to finally leave the memories behind. The lives that Angel and Brighton forged for themselves was nothing but miraculous after what they had been through. 

This book was sad but it was filled with so much love. Love between the inmates that made friends with each  other because that's all there was to do.  Love between the nurse that taught Brighton and Angel. The Love between Angel and Brighton.  What a beautiful story it was.

I would recommend everyone read this book, you will never forget it.

Thanks to Elizabeth Byler Younts, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and NetGalley for all allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Review of The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts: I went out on a limb getting this book, I passed it over once then saw that JustReads had it on tour and figured that maybe since I was seeing it everywhere I should try it out . . . I knew that it would be a hard book to read with everything that happened in asylums in history but WOW I didn't expect it to be so very emotional.

The characters were so lifelike and their struggles so heartrending that I felt their every emotion with a hurting heart.

This heartbreaking, emotion searing, unusual love filled, story is a need to read for all.

And how have I not read this author's work before?

Rating: 5 stars.

Recommendation: 16/18 up for violence, abuse, mistreatment, and racism.

Verse: Luke 6:38
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (King James Version)

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Very different from my normal historic fiction stories. Brighton Friedrich was born in an asylum in the 1940s. Her mother was sent there after being found alone and unable to take care of herself. It shows how anything outside of the norm back then would be considered  outcasts. Heartbreaking and powerful. Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
Once I started reading THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN I vacillated between two emotions.  One, I was so distressed about the treatment about the residents of Riverside Home that I just wanted to stop reading for a bit and take a deep breath. But on the other hand, through the alternating time frame of the book's narration, I knew that Brighton somehow found a life outside the asylum and crafted a "normal" adult life with husband, children, and a career.  It is the arrival of a mysterious package that has caused her to relive the days of her childhood.  And that knowledge that she did escape propelled me (and probably most readers) to continue as quickly as we could read --- so we could find the answers to how she escaped, whether Grace or Angel came with her, and whether someone helped her.  As the book progresses, I was exposed to more about the injustices of Riverside Home (and  mental health facilities in general during the early 20th Century), but I was also witness to the small "brightnesses" of the staff and patients who became Brighton's family.  What sound like the mummers of a lost mind to most are melodies of comfort to the young girl.  Only as a adult will she realize she was listening to prayers --  words of the rosary and the Lord's prayer in the patient's native language.  I think readers will be surprised like I was, just how her entrance into the "real" world happens and what her first days outside the walls of Riverside Home are. 

This is a powerful novel that reminds us that all people are worthy of love and dignified care. Each one of us should be concerned about how the weakest and the most ill are treated, and never should we let a "sweet" name hide the truths of abuse, overcrowding, misdiagnosis, or mistreatment. “I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.”
Was this review helpful?
Elizabeth Byler Younts brings a unique voice to Christian fiction. With hauntingly beautiful prose, she explores the ties of friendship, the power of love and forgiveness with gut-wrenching emotion. 

Her story of two forgotten children, growing up behind the doors of an asylum in the 1930's will tug at the emotions. Their escape into the real world comes with many struggles, but freedom from the horrors of the asylum may take years to overcome. 

It is a sign of a good author, when a reader cares for the characters as if they are real people. I found myself thinking of Brighton and Angel when I was away from the book, eager to get back to read more of their story. 

The author's impeccable attention to detail is apparent as she writes of the misconceptions and treatments of mental illness in the 1930's. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
Was this review helpful?
When I found out Elizabeth Byler Younts had written another book, I knew I had to read it. Her book The Solace of Water was phenomenal; it’s the one I recommend to everyone who asks for a book recommendation. In comes The Bright Unknown. Sign me up! I know it’s going to be great. And oh my goodness was I right. This book is a sensory experience. The words come alive. They dance through your senses in every way possible. The “xylophone of sounds” create a rhythm you can’t help but dance to. The depth of the characters, their attunement to the deepest parts of their soul, is both horrifyingly painful and beautiful at the same time. Ms. Younts has a way of writing chapter endings that entices you to read just one more before returning to life as you know it. The story pulls you like a dog pulls its owner on a leash, unwilling to let you slow down, begging you to hold on for dear life. You find yourself in the pages of this book; in between the lines, inside the characters’ hearts and souls. Younts beautifully incapsulates humanity and our depravity, our brokenness and our longing for wholeness, relationship, and to be seen. Rarely do I underline anything in a fiction book. But I sat reading this book with a pen in my hand. This is a book to keep on the shelf, to revisit, to find pieces of your lost or hiding self in. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I’d give it 10 if I could. Younts is an author to follow. I received a copy of this book from CelebrateLit. I was in no way required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This is a beautifully written book about a horrific subject with characters that you won't soon forget. The story grabbed me from the first page and kept me interested until the last page. Even though some of it was difficult to read, there was always a feeling of hope, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

The story begins in 1937 and Brighton is 14 years old. She has lived in the Riverside Home for the Insane for her entire life. Her mom was a resident when Brighton was born and since there was no one else to take care of her, she grew up sharing a room with her mother. One of the nurses took care of her, taught her to read and read books to her when she was growing up. Her mother was extremely depressed and non-verbal but Brighton loved her dearly and helped to take care of her. When she was younger, she met a boy at the asylum who was a little bit older than her but like her was not insane. He was put into the hospital because he was an albino and an embarrassment to his upper class parents. He didn't even have a name so Brighton named him Angel. A new girl shows up one day. Grace is a little older than Brighton but she was admitted to the hospital because her parents didn't approve of the boy she wanted to marry. She tells Brighton and Angel about the outside world - things that they'd never seen or heard about and they all realize that they don't belong where they are and need to escape. They have no money and very little understanding of how to handle being out in the world but they are determined not to remain where they are. Will they be able to find peace and happiness in the world or will they miss their families and the other patients that they have learned to love and care about? Will they find happiness?

The Bright Unknown will definitely be one of my top 10 books for 2019.
Was this review helpful?
Haunting, bewildering, overwhelming, and agonizing are some of the words that describe this indescribable story when you are in the midst of reading this women’s Christian fiction. By the time you have reached the last poignant page, you will feel hopeful and be able to see the rainbow at the end of this stormy story. 

When we meet Brighton in the 1930’s, she has lived since birth in a large public insane asylum. These types of facilities were in some ways akin to concentration camps both in their cruelty and deprivations, yet  also in the ability of people to love and connect and surmount the horror. A caring nurse has done her best to love, raise and educate Brighton and Brighton has bonded with many of the inmates. She has a best friend, who she named Angel. Brighton learns to pray from one inmate, and she learns part of the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful from another. What a song to sing in the midst of darkness! While  the description for this book gives the facts of this story it is the author’s evocative writing style and ability to see into her characters’ hearts and souls that gives this book its uplifting power. 

We also get to know Brighton in 1990 and the book alternates between her time in the asylum and her current thoughts and reflections as a 67 year old woman. Were hope and love enough for Brighton and Angel to survive and find all things bright and beautiful? You will feel like you have lived their journey alongs side of these two true friends. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson fiction.
Was this review helpful?
The Bright Unknown is a women’s psychological fiction novel by author Elizabeth Byler Younts. This is the time-slip (1930’s -1990) story of sixty-seven-year-old Brighten (Nell) Friedrich as she tells of her growing up years in the Riverside Home for the Insane. It was not a place for her, but it was where she was born.

Psychological fiction is not my usual reading genre but after reading about it on other blogs I wanted to try it. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes & No! This novel had my emotions all in a tizzy. One minute needing tissues, the next minute I found myself invested in the character. I did not like the faux calling up of the dead.

The story kept me guessing about each time-slip era. The sad scenes of growing up in an asylum were written particularly well. The author wrote about the asylum creating a believable world. The characters are well-portrayed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
Was this review helpful?
Forgive me because I don't believe I even have the words to do this novel justice. I finished a day ago and I'm still sitting in a book fog. There's so much that I loved but can't share to avoid spoilers, but this novel had me hook, line, and sinker from the very first chapter.

Although The Bright Unknown is marketed as historical romance, there is also an element of time-slip involved. The majority of the story is a look back on Brighton's upbringing in the asylum. The mystery surrounding her presence there certainly had my mind racing considering all types of conspiracies. I was amazed how I was able to still be shocked and surprised as each piece of the puzzle was strategically revealed with impeccable timing. The other piece is Nell being forced to look back at her childhood in ways she never expected yet she seems to find a sense of healing through her own painful past.

I appreciated the attention that this book brought to mental health and how it was handled in the past. One quote that really stuck out to me was:

"Don't forget that thousand of souls lived and died there and were ostracized by society. Many are buried in the back corner because no one claimed their bodies. Don't forget the history of what has happened at Riverside and other facilities like it, and don't let history repeat itself. And when you meet someone who might struggle with mental illness, see the person behind the frightened eyes. Not just the diagnosis."

I think this quote exquisitely sums up the motivation for this piece. Through Brighton's eyes you get a unique perspective on the many types of people who found themselves trapped in asylums. In many cases it was obvious they didn't belong, but after barbaric procedures and drugs their very souls were irreparably crushed. I don't remember the exact quote, but at one point Brighton mentioned that their souls died first and their physical bodies some time after. This novel was so masterfully written that you couldn't help but see the heart of the people behind the eyes and the injustice they were powerless to fight.

This was not a fluffy story in any way, shape, or form. It will break your heart as you desperately cling to the threads of hope. I read this book while on a road trip with my husband and found myself trying to hide my face at the gas station so no one could see I was crying. I say all the time that a good book is one that makes me feel something, and this book had me sucked in so deeply that it seemed to blur the lines between reality and fiction.

Have your box of tissues handy but this is a read I highly, highly recommend. Elizabeth Byler Younts has quickly become a must-read author and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

*I received a copy of this book through CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Was this review helpful?
This book is so-o-o different than what I normally read, but I really enjoy peering outside my favored genres every once in a while. Reading this has been quite an experience.

The Bright Unknown brings me back to the reading choices of my younger years, making me somewhat reminiscent of a V.C. Andrews book I read in high school, titled Flowers in the Attic. The story isn’t the same, but has a similar feel…similar atmosphere, but rather than the young folks being imprisoned in a crazy grandmother’s attic, they’re kept in a home for the insane.

Brighton is such an interesting character and I sympathized and empathized with her, deeply. Her love and dedication to her mother and her friend, Angel, is profound and she shows such inner strength.

I like the dual-time storytelling, told from the 1940s and 1990s, giving their own unique eras and lifestyles. Angel is such an integral part of this story, as is Grace, Joann, Kelly, and others. But perhaps the fiercest character was The Riverside Home for the Insane. Wow. I could picture the dreary grounds, and the horrific sounds, smells, and pains behind it’s dark walls. These visuals are strong and powerful.

This is such a memorable story about the search for truth, light, family, healing, and forgiveness. I’m sure it’ll stay with me for some time…

Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of Just Read Publicity Tours. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
Every now and then, you come across a book by an author that makes you very glad you decided to read this one.  I'd not read anything by Elizabeth Younts but the cover synopsis drew my attention.  Ms Younts is a true craftsman, developing characters and setting them into a time and era that most people know nothing about.  These characters and their lives, right from the start, draw you in as a history book never could, even though their story is typical of the treatment mental facilities provided at the time.  As a 67 year old woman reviews her life, I was drawn by her strength and her escape from the expected commitment to which she had been committed.  Moving from the present to memories of her past and it's dark days, the story will give hope for even the worst of days to get better.  A definite 5 star read that you'll remember and recommend long after the last page.
Was this review helpful?
When I read the back cover copy I knew I was in for a moving novel, I was just not prepared for how it would affect me emotionally. 

I was hooked from the first line. “I’m not sure whom I should thank – or blame – for the chance to become an old woman. Though as a young girl, sixty-seven seemed much older than it actually is.” And I couldn't stop reading until I finished the last one.

This isn't a fluffy read, it is a beautifully written novel about mental health and how it was dealt with in the late 30's and 40's. It will break your heart, and I don't say that to discourage you from reading it, I say that because Ms. Younts has written a beautiful novel that will transport you back to a time, with subject matter and character's that you will hurt for and have hope for. 

The time-slip element made reading this book easier because the present portion gives glimpses of hope from the dark element of Brighton's past. The story is told in first person through Brighton's eyes. The photography element added an interesting thread to the story.

This is my first read of Ms. Younts and it will not be my last. In fact I was just getting ready to read The Solace of Water that was published last year when I received this book. 

I highly recommend this novel!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel via the publisher in association with Just Reads Publicity. I was not required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This new-to-me author has written a heart wrenchingly, moving story with a dual timeline.  Set in the late 1920 to 1940's in Pennsylvania and the 1990's in Michigan it follows the story of Brighton aka Nell and Angel.  Brighton is born in the Riverside Home for the Insane where her mother had been committed.  For the next 18 years, she is mothered by one of the nurses.  Her best friend is Angel an albino boy who was committed by his parents.  This is the story of the atrocities they witnessed and underwent in a time period when mental illness or just being different was not understood or was not culturally acceptable.  

Yount's research and understanding of this horrible time period in history when most states ran mental institutions that became dumping grounds for those who were just depressed or different was incredible.  I remember when I was a young child and teen when you wanted to put someone down or tease them you would say "Watch out they will send you to Norwalk."  Everyone knew that was the crazy asylum.  But later we would find out the horrible conditions and treatments that were used there.  

This book not only grips your heart but tears your soul apart with its descriptions of the people who had to live with these atrocious conditions and treatments that did not help but rather did massive damage.  It is a book reader swill long remember, and thank God that we have come a long way in dealing with mental illness but knowing there is much more to learn.  The author deals beautifully with a difficult topic that is not often addressed.  

**I received a complimentary copy of this book  from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley.  Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Was this review helpful?
WOW. This book is ... wow. Stunning. Captivating. Beautifully written, full of raw emotion and pain and hope.

Having read Younts’ “The Solace of Water,” I knew “The Bright Unknown” would be special and, frankly, deep. If I had to compare it to anything, it’s like Katie Ganshert’s “No One Ever Asked” meets, well, anything by Jaime Jo Wright, but especially “The Curse of Misty Wayfair.”

“Bright Unknown” is a perfect read in fall and around Halloween, but not before bedtime—between subject matter and the desperation of needing to know what will happen next. By no means a short or quick read, the book delves fully into its characters, and storylines of a world nearly forgotten now. It challenges the reader to see mental illness separately from people suffering with it: “When you meet someone who might struggle with mental illness, see the person behind the frightened eyes. Not just the diagnosis” (eARC loc. 3969).

Truly a stunning read, and one I enjoyed even more than “Solace of Water” (which says something!). Plenty of twists and turns, with a climax and denouement I did not see coming.

I received a copy of the book via JustRead Publicity Tours. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Some books you hold close to your chest as you sit in the resolution of the last pages. This was that book.
With “The Bright Unknown”, Elizabeth Byler Younts positions herself alongside Lisa Wingate and Kristin Hannah. And if you know me as a reader, you know that Kristin Hannah is my favorite. So that is saying a lot.
The haunting story of Brighton Friedrich and the Riverside Home Shows the most difficult parts of humanity and past decision made but brings us the hope of humanity as well. The young girl, Brighton, was born in an insane asylum and raised among the patients, including her mother. But Brighton doesn’t belong there. Neither do many of the asylum’s inhabitants—having been locked away by their parents or family members for things that were far short of insanity. Brighton finds the bright places where she lives but also witnesses the darkest moments. And Younts takes us along the heart breaking journey as Brighton watches her world torn apart and her own heart torn as to whether to escape or to stay with her mother.
What a powerful story of love, forgiveness, hope, and not forgetting the past but learning from it and allowing it to make us stronger.
Was this review helpful?