Book Review – Bright Side by Kim Holden

by Maryse on September 6, 2014 · 44 comments

in My Book Reviews

Bright Side

*sniff sniff* cry Welp. It was pretty fantastic.sad *sniff sniff*

*glares at all of you that recommended this!!* Glares? Thaaaaaaaaaaaat’s right!!! GLARES! confused  (<— it was a much angrier-looking smiley, but “Bright Side” taught me not to indulge that kind of face and emotion, so… you know. It’s a “baby glare”).

Lin: You.guys!!! You must pick up Bright Side by Kim Holden.  I’ve never ugly cried so much since I’ve read Arsen.  What a beautiful book!! Make sure you have tissues ready!!

but she adds…

Lin: Don’t compare Bright Side with Arsen… I just want to clarify that I never FELT so much since that book did a number on me. Bright Side has ruined me for any other book.  Seriously, this book is the book you want to read.

Kim: Almost finished with Bright Side..I started last night…definitely a MUST read! I’ve never come a character so genuinely beautiful as Kate. She’s by far my favorite female character ever… Head’s up be prepared to be shocked to your core and make sure you have multiple boxes of tissue available…. A phenomenal read!

Melannie: Does it pick up after the first few chapters? I read the sample but it was a little slow…

Amy: I was up until midnight reading this book and bawling. I don’t think I’ve cried like that in a really long time. Amazing book!!

Kandace: Yay, I just sampled too and it seemed slow.

Summer: I also sampled it and agree with kandace and melannie seemed slow I will go for it if it picks up. But it sounds like it may break my heart

Heather: Bright Side is good….total ugly cry. Well written, cute, fun, witty writing yet kind of slow build up but hang in there.

Melanie: I was in the car after picking up my daughter from school and a song came on the radio that reminded of that ‘one scene’ in Bright Side, and I started balling in front of my 5 year old. JEEZ, I just got rid of the cry headache from reading that book.

Lise: Ha Maryse, I read Bright Side on Sunday (non stop) I was going to message you and tell you about this, but figured you already had a heads up. It is so sweet and touching and yes, Kate is a favorite heroine for sure, dude! ;-)

Ha! Dude. I was totally wondering… “why is Lise calling me “dude”? She never calls me dude. Nobody calls me dude…” LOL!!!! I totally get the “dude” part now…

But yep. Y’all wanted me to drown in my own tears, didn’t you? Well I can’t say you didn’t warn me. Bunch of meanies. *shakes head* rolleyes P.S. I glare at y’all with love. And thanks. And rainbows and unicorns. ;)

That was something else. Beautiful, sweet, positive, quirky, bittersweet, poignant. Valuable life lessons learned via a colorful cast of characters, each with their own personal issues, and the heroine that is the center of it all. Even when things get tough, Kate (aka “Bright Side”) is always the first to shed light… “…peace and love and good happiness stuff.”* It’s like it’s simply… ingrained in her. She can’t be anything but positive, and boy do I love that message! We need a little more “Bright Side” in our lives.

Smiles aren’t always happy, but hers is. It’s open, content, and confident. She looks friendly in the most literal sense of the word, like you’d swear you’ve known her for years and she knows all your secrets. And still likes you in spite of them.

So what’s it about? Gah! I don’t even know how to describe it, well I do… to someone like my husband that won’t be reading it. That notices I’m crying again, even after I’ve finished the book and has to put “Elf” on again to help fix me. ;) It did help. But here I am, writing the review, reflecting on a few particular scenes and I’m getting all choked up again.

Okay so I’ll just give a quick… intro.

Even though she’s lived a tough childhood, one *mostly* in love (at least by those that should have loved her),  Kate simply doesn’t want to be… angry. Can’t hold a grudge. She’s not shy, she loves BIG hugs, she loves to take care of those that need it. LOVES I tell you. Not out of obligation, but out of her big heart. Some take to her so well… (even those that have built walls around them), but some… not so much. That alone made me sad.

But that doesn’t deter Kate. She’s does her best with what she has, and doesn’t worry about the details. Fun, life, love, family and friends, and at least “trying” to help even those that act as if they don’t want it.

“Not sure what you’re going for, but you do know that the twins are on full display, right?”

She shrugs. “Yeah.”

I throw her a thumbs up. “Okay, you’re all good then sister. See ya.”

Tee hee!!! Well, at least she tried to help. ;)

So Kate leaves behind her lifelong gorgeous best friend “Gus”, to go to college (while he begins his tour with his up and coming and already almost famous, rock band). She’s up to making new friends, having new experiences, even surviving “snow” for the first time in her life. No love, for her though. That is one complication she can do without. But you know how that goes… ;) A new crush flourishes no matter how hard she tries to stifle it, all while she and Gus hold onto their forever-bond via Skype.

It’s sweet… in fact, at first I found it all… a bit too sweet. She was a bit too peppy. Too quirky. Too original. Too giving. Too patient. Too perfect… in that delightfully imperfect (or at least, unconcerned) way. Musical virtuoso, big into unknown/indie bands, makes her own unconventional but cool t-shirts, gorgeous (but unassuming). You know… in that “I just rolled out of bed and yes my hair’s a mess but no biggie” way. Will befriend anybody, and will make them feel like her very best friend ever… being in her head felt almost… a little… well… just not what I was used to. But then again… I don’t think there are many “Kates” out there.

But at 50% (yep… it took until 50% for me to truly latch on), I was IN!!! Once we hit that part, we were in full-on “love drama”, a bit of personal character drama (social issues, appearances… you know the real stuff). While the characters are “deep” (or at least “meant to be deep” from the start of the book), their personalities and depth really kick in at about the halfway point. Again, I’m not sure if I just got attached to them by then, or if the story and characters found their rhythm or what, but it took awhile for me  (’cause at times I found some of them to be a bit over-the-top in their actions). Mind you, the adamant reader recommendations kept me going, ’cause I knew I was in for something BIG!

Meredith: I downloaded “Bright Side” two days ago and CANT. PUT. IT. DOWN. I have loved ALOT of books, but this one has a special place in my heart. The characters are so LOVABLE and the story SO tragic!! I will read it over and over and over. Its one of those books, that just stick with you long after its over. I rate this one right up there with all my favorites, this author is just incredible!! Even if you don’t review it, READ IT! This book needs to be shared!!!! I am going to stalk you EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. until you read Bright Side!!!!!!

side note from Maryse: Eeeeeeeeep!!!! eek

Traci: I’m about **% in Bright Side. I think it’s really good so far.. I’m scared to finish it though …I went in pretty blind…I guess I’ll just bite the bullet @ finish it…ughh..

Brynne: Read Bright Side this week. It was soooo good! I loved it! Must read!

Traci: Finished “Bright Side” my eyes are still red from ugly crying..Think I need a drink now & a lighter book…on the bright side (haha) *spoiler* has a story coming in 2015!! Woohoo

Cheryl: Just have to finish crying, I mean reading Bright Side…

Cheryl: Finished Bright Side. Dear God I’m wiped. Oh yeh, UGLY CRY.

Denise: OMG!! I am so happy that you are reading Bright Side !! It is easily one of my favorite books of this year and will go down on my list of FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME.  It’s simply amazing.  It’s inspiring, uplifting, humorous, and gut-wrenching.

Yesssssss Denise. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Especially the “gut-wrenching”. confused

How could I possibly resist? Plus the threat of stalking up there… ;)

Maryse: …excuse me while I go wipe my face. And change my pj top. And dig myself out of these crumpled soggy tissues.

Lin: Maryse, sounds like you just got done reading Bright Side.

Maryse: I did, Lin… I did. I’m still all melancholy…

Jean: Poor Maryse, she’s melancholy today…. Ugh! Was it worth it Maryse? Like really worth it??

Maryse: Yah… I’m just… melancholy. I’m gonna write the review (trying to, right now) but I’m afraid I’ll cry again…

Tessa: Here Maryse. *hands over the manatee* You probably need this. That book broke me. I even woke up in tears just remembering it. (Especially the studio part)

Maryse: *snuggles soggy manatee* Thanks Tessa. GAH!! The studio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG. That KILLED ME.

Amy: Who has Manny? *holding hand out* His mama needs him. So…Bright Side. Ugly cry and melancholy morning after? Huh. I’m in.

Tessa: I handed Manny to Maryse. She needed it.

Maryse: I snuffled on him. He’s gross again, Amy.

Cheryl: One last cuddle with manatee, hands back to Amy. *sniff* still melancholy this morning just thinking about Bright Side (great descriptive word Maryse).

And that’s where I’m ending off. There’s not much more to say other than, I was eventually… truly affected. And I still am, right now. And I’ll never forget this one.

4 to 4.5 stars (3.5 stars for the first half, and 5 stars for the 2nd half)

P.S. *There’s a “Steve Vai” (guitarist) reference up there, in my review if any of you are fans. My husband said one of my lines reminded him of a song, so I creatively edited my line for him. ;) Since Gus is a rock star, I thought it fitting…

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise September 6, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Aww… dude, glad you took a chance on this one and enjoyed it. This will be the last time I use the term “dude” although it is kinda catchy.
Happy reading… :-)

bev September 6, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Yeah, nope. Can not do it, but great review.

Maryse September 6, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Yah dude!!! :P

Lin September 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM

This book was epic. Definitely a favorite. Now what to read next?

Tessa September 6, 2014 at 5:53 PM

*sniffles* It was good. Though, I never noticed how much I use the word dude until this book. I find myself stopping half way through the word. In my defense, I grew up in SoCal, so uh… It’s natural? Lol

One last thing…
I love you Bright Side.
I love you Gus.

Amy September 6, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Oh, this is gonna be good… *leg bouncing*

Tracy September 6, 2014 at 6:13 PM

I don’t think I can do it.

Maryse September 6, 2014 at 6:50 PM


Meredith September 6, 2014 at 7:02 PM

My work here is done

Amy September 6, 2014 at 7:34 PM

Aw Maryse, I’m almost to the point of empathy sobs here. :(

Don’t be sad…look what I found!

Maryse September 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM

GAH!!!! *sob*

Amy September 6, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Oh crap, that was the wrong thing to offer… *cringing*


*opens arms while holding a freshly-bathed Manny*

bev September 6, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Amy how do you find these?

And I think you guys broke Maryse.

Patty September 6, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Way too sad for me. I could barely get through the end, it was so heart breaking

Drea September 6, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Does it get better…is that it? I read the looong sample last night after all the reccs. The writing felt like a list to me- “I put on my clothes. I drank a ton of coffee. I drove for 5 minutes…” yada yada. ???????

Tessa September 6, 2014 at 8:07 PM

It does get better.

A bit of ridiculous. The whole time reading it, the song “Mr. Bright Side” by The Killers was playing through my head. It still won’t leave my brain!

Maryse September 6, 2014 at 8:14 PM

*snuffles manatee and sips the sad martini*

Oops. He’s a bit soggy again… Only on this spot. *points*

Rachel September 6, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Yeah – not gonna do it! But I did take a leap of faith on Ten Below Zero, and I can definitely recommend it for the feels! It may also make you cry, but it won’t leave you needing a hug or a cocktail. I just don’t want to be depressed from something I do for pleasure! You girls are all brave.

Amy September 6, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Bev, I have always loved trying pretty or crazy-sounding drinks. ;)

Ohhh, now that brought a sad laugh out of me, Maryse. *wipes soggy spot off of manatee and hands back*

Maryse September 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM

*snuggles manatee*

*Nestles into Amy’s side*. *hrmph*

bev September 6, 2014 at 11:35 PM

Awe Amy you can now stroke someone’s hair and it won’t be creepy.:-)

Danielle September 7, 2014 at 12:58 AM

I loved this book, I have never cried reading before and thought maybe I was never going too, but bright side had me using a whole roll of loo paper!! I had to stop only because I couldn’t see my iPad through the tears. I can honestly say I loved every single character in this book?

Tasha September 7, 2014 at 12:59 AM

Been pimping this masterpiece for days!!!!! Went to the Atria Fall In Love tour today and demanded…yes…demanded that the 20+ people within earshot of me to READ. THIS. EPICNESS. ASAP!!!!!

kim September 7, 2014 at 2:16 AM

Can’t wait for ******’s book. Should be out early 2015. I wish I had his POV to read.

Kristina September 7, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I finished it yesterday & I’m still not sure how I would rate it. It was beautiful, sad, heartbreaking… I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard.

fabi September 7, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Ok then, not only am I putting the book off limits to my tbr, I am now putting thr author off limits to my tbr

whitney September 7, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I need a big time pick me up after this. Like hardcore funny. Geeze this killed. My heart hurts. So good.

rori September 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM

This book is going to stay with me for a very long time. Kate is such a force! No matter how much crash is thrown at her she always remains positive. I like to think I learned a lot from her and this book.

Shauna September 7, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Just finished and my heart hurts so much :( was such an amazing read cried my eyes out will be put down as one of my favourite books for definite!!

linh September 8, 2014 at 3:17 AM

Just finished. My heart is breaking but it’s exquisite pain. Love when a book does this.

Danielle September 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Ok this book was tough. It starts slow. You get immersed in everyone’s daily grind and then …boom. When you get to that point in the book you won’t put it down. I cried the last few chapters of this book. What made me smile was looking at the authors website and seeing a possible spin-off story from one of the characters in the book. I won’t say anything else except don’t read any Jojo Moyes after this book!

Patty September 10, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Ok first off “Kim” above alluded to a sequel…is that true?

Second and more important……OMG just finished.. I’m so conflicted.. I’m so heartbroken but does that make it amazing because it evoked so much feeling or do I always just want a happily ever after, I don’t know!!!I know I loved the story, the characters, but I also know that at ever turn of the page even though I knew what was going to happen I was wishing for a miracle that never came. AND I NEEDED A EPILOGUE.. I NEED TO KNOW HOW THEY ALL MOVED ON…

Danielle September 10, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Patty- I looked at Kim Holden’s facebook page and she says she is working on the follow-up to Bright Side!! I cant wait for this one too!

Patty R. September 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM

ok after this book I feel in a little bit of a Book Funk. I need a good reference of a funny romance or a HEA or good….I have to go to Wildwood for the NJ Fireman’s Convention this weekend for 4 days with my husband and the whole Fire Department and I want to get lost in a book while we drink and have fun. If they don’t drag me out of my room with kindle in hand !!! Any suggestions ….

Becky H. September 11, 2014 at 11:24 AM

OMG, I don’t think that I have shed so many tears while reading a book. Unfortunately for me, the more tears I shed, the more I seem to like a book. Am I weird in that sense.

Anyway, Maryse, I started reading your blog a couple of months ago. I want to personally thank you for all of your reviews and suggestions. Given that I finish a book every day to two depending on the length of the book, your blog have been a godsend.

Angie September 12, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Brightside is AWESOME but also HORRIBLE!!!! I haven’t cried like that in a long time! I had to hide from my kids so they didn’t think the world was coming to an end! I want to recommend it to friends but am afraid they will HATE me. I think everyone can learn a lesson from Kate. We all need to learn to love with our whole heart and live in the land of sunshine and rainbows. Oh…and unicorns! As a teacher who teaches many special ed kids, I also love the shout out to the special souls who have special needs. There really is no better smile than the huge squinty eyed ones!!!

Blanca September 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Maryse!! What did you do to me? This book is amazing! Epic, omg so good. But I have to keep stopping myself from reading it. Especially at work (yes I read at my desk sometimes, who doesn’t). I keep getting teary-eyed. I’m at the end and I think I need to save it for home, or my eye makeup will be dripping down my face in front of all my co-workers. I need a HEA stat!

Victoria September 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Oh my lord, took this recommendation and decided to give it a go. Agreed, the first half was kind of hard to get into BUT once it hit about 40%, I was absolutely hooked. Finished it in one day, my fiance was talking at me all night trying to get some attention, unfortunately “Katie”, Gus and Keller had all my attention. I don’t think I’ve cried for so much of a book, it was an amazing book, wonderful, gave such a beautiful outlook on life. I still am getting a bit teary thinking about it. Not many books can actually evoke tears from me but this and Carnage really cracked me.

Renee October 6, 2014 at 2:46 AM

Are we going to have Gus story pretty pretty please?!?!?!

ijay October 17, 2014 at 2:29 AM

I have never cried so much over a book. read it thru out the night and now am going to work with puffy eyes. I don’t regret it though. It’s a powerful and beautifully emotional book. Kudos to Kim Holden!!!!!

Krista January 8, 2015 at 12:48 AM

Ok I just finished it and feel wrecked. I have never made such a connection with a book. I will now go have another good cry.

Danielle Jamie January 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM

Just reading ur review and thinking of Kate I tear up :/ Seriously this book even months after finishing is sooo deep inside of me I can’t shake it. I feel like I lost a best friend ending this book. Still to this day when I try to even talk out loud to anyone telling them about this book I tear up. It was the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. I almost put it down at 37% bc it was slow to start but I’m glad I stuck it out. I think back now and appreciate the slow build up b/c we really got to fall in love with the character that is Kate AKA Bright Side. I CANNOT wait for Gus’s book I hope Kellar gets one too.

Rebecca Yewchuk August 20, 2018 at 1:20 AM

Thanks for recommending. One of the most beautiful and heart wrenching stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Dying to discuss with someone who has read it. Did anyone else feel like even though Keller was amazing, Gus was the one for her??? So many emotions after reading. Book hangover for sure!

Maryse August 20, 2018 at 9:07 AM

YAY Rebecca!!! I’m glad you loved it too. *hug* :D

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