About the Book
Book: The Bright Unknown
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Two young friends embark upon an epic journey across 1940s middle America in search of answers, a family, and a place to call home.
The only kind of life Brighton Turner understands is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of a rural Pennsylvania asylum. A nurse has thoughtfully educated and raised Brighton, but she has also kept vital information from her in order to keep her close. Brighton befriends a boy whom she calls Angel—he doesn’t know his name—and as the two of them learn more about what lies beyond the walls they call home, they fight for their release and eventually escape.
However, the world outside the only place they’ve ever known is not what they expect. They have no real names, no money, and no help—and they must rely upon the kindness of strangers as they walk and hitchhike from Pennsylvania to Michigan to find their last hope of a home.
This heartbreaking journey, narrated in gorgeous prose, explores what it means to belong—and to scour the universe with fresh eyes for the brightness within.
About the Author
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 critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.
More from Elizabeth
The Bright Unknown was born out of a seed of a true story that my husband’s grandmother, Gigi, shared with me. Gigi told me that when she was a young girl living in Oklahoma her mom had a friend who was a nurse. During one of her visits over coffee, she would occasionally talk about her patients at the local asylum. One particular story really intrigued Gigi and even decades later she still remembered it. The story was about a patient who had a baby while at the hospital and while Gigi remembers nothing about the patient or the child, she knew that when she moved out of Oklahoma several years later that asylum-born girl was around eighteen and still living within the walls of that hospital along with her patient-mother.
That story stuck with me. This trapped girl and her mother wouldn’t let me go. I began to wonder over her and ask all sorts of unanswered questions. Slowly but surely my imagined story for her came to life. Layer after layer I learned about Brighton, my name for her. I also named two characters after Gigi, her first and middle, as an honor to her. This story was born from a memory but now these characters feel real and present in my life today and I hope you will journey with them in The Bright Unknown.
I was born on April 25, 1981, at 4:16 p.m. in a traditional hospital setting. The name on my birth certificate reads Nicole Patricia Durso. I was always told that I was named after my father — Nicholas Patrick Durso — because I was firstborn and every firstborn on my dad’s side of the family is named Nicholas Patrick. I accepted this story but thought it sounded kind of fishy. I appreciated the connection to my father and grandfather and great grandfather, but I’ve always believed this tradition should have been kept through the male line. When I got a little bit older, I had to do a family tree project for school and discovered that this name thing was grossly incorrect. Most all of the men on my dad’s side of the family are NOT named Nicholas or Nicholas Patrick.
So, I confronted my mother: “What gives, mom? Why was I named Nicole Patricia?” She confessed that I was actually supposed to be named Elise Marie. My dad was really struggling with impending fatherhood while my mom was pregnant with me, and she was worried. So much so that when the recording nurse took down my vitals after I was born my mom loudly informed her that I was to be named Nicole Patricia. Why did my mom pull this switcheroo? Because she believed sharing a name with my father would make him less scared to be a dad, and it would bond us better. My mom was afraid my dad wouldn’t love me if I was called Elise Marie.
In The Bright Unknown names are important. Names are our identities. They become a vessel upon which our personalities are shaped. In a very real way, names are who we are. I am Nicole Patricia. I am not Elise Marie. That’s someone else or no one at all. Names are so important that if they’re stripped from us we become lost. Brighton and Angel, the heroine and hero of The Bright Unknown, go through many “Who am I?” moments, and at certain points become unnamed and lost. It’s actually quite painful to watch these two characters go through these periods.
This topic really weighed heavy on me for a couple of days, so much so I had to turn to my Bible. What does God say about names, about knowing us, and about our identities? In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells us that He knew us BEFORE He formed us in our mother’s wombs, and in Isaiah 49:16, God tells us that He has engraved His kids on the palms of His hands. Can you imagine that?! On God’s hands — His beautiful, perfect hands — are our names, and my name is Nicole Patricia. And, if Brighton and Angel were real, their names would be on God’s hands too. The point is no matter what humans do here on earth to make us invisible, worthless, or unimportant God knew us, knows us now, and forever sees our names on His palms. Can I get an AMEN?!
The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts is a masterpiece. This novel is beyond excellent. It is poignant, heartbreaking, refreshing, and so filled with hope. I thoroughly loved every second spent with Brighton and Angel and will miss them now that I have turned the final page. It goes without saying that I highly (times infinity) recommend this must-read story.
I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from the author via Celebrate Lit. I also purchased an eBook copy and an audio copy of this novel to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (hosted by The Christian Fiction Girl)
I am giving away ONE (1) paperback copy of The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts. This giveaway is NOT part of the Celebrate Lit Tour. My giveaway begins today, 11-3-19 at 5:00 am (PST) and ends on Thursday, 11-7-19 at 12:00 pm (PST). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!
Congrats to Shannon W.!
You have won this giveaway. Thank you for participating. I appreciate your support!
***Please Note: Open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.*** One winner will be notified via email at the end of the giveaway and will be announced here on this page. For full giveaway disclosures and policies, click HERE.
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