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Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark • Estelle Reviews

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay ClarkFinding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co./Macmillan
Pages: 224
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords:
Format read: ARC from Publisher. (Thanks!)

Summary: Two high schoolers — connected by the poor decisions of their parents — meet up at CVS and begin a shaky friendship.

I spent a lot of my high school life in CVS. My dad surprised me with my first car there. I fell in love there. (The drama!) I made some incredible friends. It was a home away from home so when I heard there was a little bit of CVS folded into Finding Mr. Brightside — I knew I had to read it.

Abram and Juliette may not actually work at their CVS (their loss) but it is where they cross paths and embark on an unlikely friendship. The kids of parents who had an affair and died together sounds like a page out of a soap opera, I know. But I can assure you that Jay Clark makes it work. Abram and Juliette are individually dealing with the repercussions of their parents’ sins and tragic ends — from the “help” of prescriptions and the way they’ve been forced to, and in some cases chose to, change their lives since everything went down.

Clark possesses this unreal magic: making Abram and Juliette’s complicated situations so… uncomplicated. Alternating between Abram and Juliette’s POVs, we see how each dealt with a death of a parent, how Juliette has no choice but to become the adult in a household where her dad won’t let go of her mom, and how medicine isn’t exactly working for both of them. This works because Finding Mr. Brightside is peppered with quirky dialogue and great little details — Juliette’s love of Starbucks, Abram and his documentaries, and so many of those tiny moments that build up and become part of a couple’s makeup — the inside jokes, the silly exchanges, that intimacy.

Even though Abram is more of the glass half-full type and knows exactly how to push Juliette out of her comfort zone (in a gentle way), Juliette is just as nimble about confronting him about his lack of thought for his future and what he’s given up in the wake of his father’s death. What are the chances the person you needed in your life was also attached to this very bad thing? Slim, I’m sure. But Abram and Juliette fill gaps in each other’s lives that desperately need filling. It never felt forced, or coincidental. FMB is a short book too, and still, the development of past and present is so on point.

So besides being funny and charming, our characters take a trip to the beach and I love this because at first it seems like it’s going to be some kind of “I like you so much” bubble but the real world can’t help but trickle in and both characters are forced to combat some demons: old and new. But there’s something to be said about seeing these two character co-exist in a place where they haven’t been living within the walls they’ve created. Again, it works here because the author shows readers: hey, things might be pretty craptastic right now but we can’t forget the enjoy the beautiful things too like whales and bad karaoke.

I could talk this one up all night, can you tell? Finding Mr. Brightside may have a great romance but it’s so much more than that — two people struggling to identify with their parents and come to terms with the cards life has dealt you (negative and positive). All with a unique sense of Jay Clark humor.

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April 1, 2015 - 11:25 am

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March 26, 2015 - 5:13 pm

Rachel - Well, this sounds like a me book. Like, it could be my life (minus the death part). And also, I feel like if you love it, I’ll love it. Beautiful review, as always.

March 24, 2015 - 10:04 am

Alexa S. - Really enjoyed seeing your thoughts on Finding Mr. Brightside, E! While I didn’t wind up enjoying it as much as you, the quirky details were the parts that really got my attention when I was reading it 🙂

March 24, 2015 - 7:38 am

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I tried to read this back when I first got the ARC and I just wasn’t into the story or the writing. I’ve been meaning to revisit it and now you’ve made me want to give it a try even more 🙂

March 23, 2015 - 7:12 pm

Alisa @ Papercuttts - Aw this seems like a really solid read. I love CVS too, more than Walgreens. I always thought that in case of nuclear meltdown, a CVS is the best place to hang out. They have a little of everything you would need!

March 23, 2015 - 12:42 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - Great review Estelle. I had problems with some of the background parts of this book (especially Juliette to be honest) but this review really makes me a appreciate it as a book I *can* suggest to others.

March 23, 2015 - 12:39 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Ahhh, I’m so excited to read this one. I’m totally picking up a copy tomorrow (as of now my library system doesn’t have it preordered). I’m so looking forward to this and I’m so glad you love it, Estelle.

March 23, 2015 - 10:08 am

Brianna - I’m so glad I stumbled on this blog late last year. I’ve found some great reads because of it.

March 23, 2015 - 9:42 am

Meg - Sounds like a winner to me!

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