Friday, July 16, 2021

Book Review: "Rise to the Sun" by Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson's newest YA novel, Rise to the Sun, is a poignant yet hopeful look at finding and healing yourself, as well as friendship, love, and music’s power.

Olivia needs an escape. Junior year of high school ended disastrously with her involved in a scandal, and a major decision awaits her. So she convinces her best friend Imani to accompany her to a three-day music festival. Imani agrees but makes Olivia swear that the weekend will be just about them—that Olivia won’t fall in love and then fall apart, needing to be rescued as always.

Toni has been coming to the festival since she was little, always accompanying her musician father. But since his death she’s been adrift, trying to figure out what’s next for her. Her mother wants her to pursue a more stable path, but is that what’s best for her? Or is music what will give her life, well, life?

When Olivia and Toni meet cute, Toni immediately throws up walls around her but Olivia immediately feels a connection. Can a relationship sustain given the flux in both of their lives—and if so, is it the right thing to do?

“What if one person can only lose so much before they fall apart completely?” I ask.

“I don’t know, man,” he says. “But I’ve gotta believe the people I have left will love me enough to try and put me back together again.”

Insta-love doesn’t always work for me but these characters both needed someone to truly believe in them. All four of the main characters definitely have their quirks.

Rise to the Sun is an emotional story and there are some heavy issues, but it’s ultimately hopeful. If you've not already read Johnson's first book, You Should See Me in a Crown, definitely pick that up!

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