This afternoon, please welcome J. E. Pinto to The Write Stuff, where she will be sharing a review of her novel, The Bright Side of Darkness. I know you’ll enjoy reading this wonderful and touching review, and then passing it along on social media for the rest of the world to discover. Thanks!
Mel Finefrock – Goodreads Review
I loved this book so much that I read it twice in a row–first by myself and then with my partner immediately after. Jo Pinto really has a way of immersing you in her characters’ world, of getting you attached to them, of painting a picture in your mind’s eye. She has a way of making you wring your hands in sorrow or grip your sides in laughter. She has a way of ripping your heart out and handing it back to you, patchworked but fortified.
And I love it.
The Bright Side of Darkness starts and ends with a ray of sunlight which shows itself periodically as the protagonist, Rick, works through the grief process. If you’ve been following my reviews for any length of time, you’ll know I relate very closely to stories that deal with grief and recovery. When I think back on such stories, I remember their protagonists are usually grieving one central loss. But poor Rick is hit with loss after loss, challenge after challenge, and must learn to cope, to navigate, to rebuild each time. All of the characters experience this, really. They cycle through recovery and relapse, taking steps forward and back again.
This is life, truly. We have setbacks, sometimes bulldozing through them and other times gradually picking up the pieces. In contrast, at times it seems as though we labor in the pursuit of happiness, and other times we are witness to serendipity of pinch-me proportions.
But while not unrealistic, it’s a risky move to portray life’s many ups and downs in such a short space. How to convey a sequence of major events, happy or sad, in a story whose timeline scales down much shorter than a given life cycle? And yet, in the same vein, how to create such a well-rounded and complex world without muddling the plot or making the book too long?
Somehow Pinto juggles these many elusive scarves masterfully, not dropping a one. Perhaps this could have been made into a series to break things down, but that’s more a musing than a criticism on my part. If you’re someone who wants to know the characters will be (realistically) okay, if you’re someone who wishes for more time with them–this is a book for you.
Also worth noting is that, being someone who is blind, I am a major proponent of strong disabled protagonists, particularly in the own-voices format. Pinto, who is blind herself, writes in Daisy a shining heroine who shows fragility but is not a damsel, who is resilient but not a superhero. Pinto strikes an important balance between writing educationally about Daisy’s blindness and focusing on her more universal attributes, bringing the uncharted back around to the familiar, and the remarkable to the ordinary, so that blindness feels less other than many believe it to be at first.
For that matter, the characters at large are very well-developed with virtues and flaws a plenty. It’s clear that Pinto really takes the time to listen to them, to cultivate relationships with them as she tells their stories. And when that strength of dialogue exists between author and character, a story can become truly sentient, impressing itself and its lessons upon the hearts of readers for years to come.
What is a family? For Rick Myers, a despondent seventeen-year-old who has just lost his parents in a car wreck, it’s the four teenage buddies he’s grown up with in a run-down apartment building. Fast with their fists, flip with their mouths, and loyal to a fault, the “crew” is all he has.
At least, he thinks so until he meets Daisy, an intelligent, independent, self-assured blind girl. Her guts in a world where she’s often painfully vulnerable intrigue Rick, and her hopeful outlook inspires him to begin believing in himself.
But when the dark side of Daisy’s past catches up with her, tragedy scatters the crew and severely tests Rick’s resolve to build his promising future. Fortunately, his life is touched by a couple with a pay-it-forward attitude, forged out of their personal struggle with grief and loss. Their support makes all the difference to Rick and eventually, through him, to the ones he holds most dear as they face their own challenges. “The Bright Side of Darkness” is a story of redemption and the ultimate victory that comes from the determination of the human spirit.
Author J. E. Pinto
J. E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.
Pinto’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. J. E. Pinto lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.
The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.
Buy The Bright Side of Darkness HERE