The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts {A Book Review}


**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 




This poignant and heartbreaking novel explores the power of resilience, the gift of friendship, and the divine beauty to be found in the big, bright world—if only we’re willing to look.

Pennsylvania, 1940s. The only life Brighton Friedrich has ever known is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of Riverside Home—the rural asylum where she was born. A nurse, Joann, has educated and raised Brighton, whose mother is a patient at the hospital. But Joann has also kept vital information from Brighton—secrets that if ever revealed would illuminate Brighton’s troubling past and the circumstances that confine her to Riverside. Brighton’s best friend is a boy she calls Angel, and as they grow up together and face the bleak future that awaits them, they determine to make a daring escape.

Nothing can prepare Brighton and Angel for life beyond Riverside’s walls. They have no legal identities, very little money, and only a few leads toward a safe place to land. As they struggle to survive in a world they’ve never seen before, they must rely on each other and the kindness of strangers—some of whom may prove more dangerous than the asylum they’ve fled.

Narrated in Elizabeth Byler Younts's gorgeous style, The Bright Unknown is a sparkling search for answers, family, and a place to call home.


Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the Carol Award–winning novel The Solace of Water, the critically acclaimed novel The Bright Unknown, and the Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets. Visit her online at ElizabethBylerYounts.com; Twitter: @ElizabethYounts; Facebook: AuthorElizabethBylerYounts; and Instagram: @ElizabethBylerYounts_author.


Wow! Talk about a powerful story. Set in the 1930s and 40s, The Bright Unknown gives an enlightening view of what it was like in an asylum of the time. Despite their name meaning safety, the reality was they were anything but that.

In this story, we meet Brighton-a girl born into an asylum where her mother was a patient. She lived there until she was 18 years old. The story jumps back and forth to her life there to 1990 when the film of the photos she'd taken of her life behind these walls is returned to her. It gives a heartbreaking look at that life. Though it is a fictional tale, it does offer what is sadly rather accurate for that time. I'll be honest, this isn't an easy read... not because it's difficult to understand but because it's not a lighthearted read. There were several times that I must admit that I nearly stopped reading not because it was a bad story, but simply because I felt the need to move to something lighter. In the end, I was really glad that I pushed through because it truly turned out to be a great story about hope, love and family.

It's also a story that needs to be told. As someone who struggles with my own variety of mental health issues and as the mother to an autistic child, it really made me feel blessed that we live in this time that we do. While I certainly believe that we still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to how we view mental health and neurological differences, this shows us just how far we truly have come.

Overall, this was a great read. It's not a quick one, and it's not the most joyful at points, but it is an important one nonetheless. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.


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