We’re just a few months away from the release of BRIGHT LIGHTS, DARK NIGHTS! The first two reviews are in. Booklist gave a positive review:
“Walter Wilcox has always wanted to blend in, especially since his parents split up and he moved to the city with his police officer father. Then Walter meets a cute, funny, black girl named Naomi, he is surprised to find she actually seems to like him back. Walter’s life, and his and relationship with Naomi, becomes complicated when his dad is accused of racial profiling. Officer Wilcox says he was just doing his job, but Walter knows what he hears around the dinner table and that parts of his dad’s story don’t add up. When the couple’s relationship becomes a hot topic online, it might be too much for them to handle. The story focuses on Walter trying to reconcile reality with the way he has been raised to see the world and Emond handles it authentically, including making it clear that Walter is just starting to understand the bigger issues like his own privilege. While Walter and Naomi are well developed, other characters lack dimension, which is unfortunate, given the book’s focus on perception and stereotypes. The author’s illustrations, interspersed with the text, help set the mood, as do references to today’s social media climate. Though similar in topic to Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down (Holt, 2014), this readalike is more inward-focused, instead of examinging the effects of racial profiling on the greater community.
VERDICT A timely choice that will get teens talking.”
“First love, racism, family strife, and the Internet’s culture of anonymous cruelty are some of the many themes explored in this illustrated novel by Happyface (2010) author Emond.
High school senior Walter, who is white, lives with his dad, a cop whose career has nose-dived in the years since he and Walter’s mom divorced and they moved from a middle-class suburb to a working-class neighborhood in the city. Anxious and endearingly awkward, Walter has done his best to fly under the radar with his peers, until he falls hard for his friend’s sister: smart, witty, harp-playing Naomi, who is black. The pressure experienced by couples from different ethnic backgrounds is realistically intensified for this sweetly likable pair when Walter’s dad arrests a black teen for burglary and is accused of assaulting him, igniting debate and anger in their neighborhood and at large. Most impressive in this emotionally charged novel is the way each of the characters is fully imagined; they emerge as complex individuals who are shaped by a variety of factors and are not portrayed as simple heroes or villains.
There are no easy answers to the issues at play in this story, and fittingly, there is much that is left open-ended. Readers will be left with plenty on their minds and in their hearts.”