Review of BRIGHT by Laura Susan Johnson
by Patsy Moran, San Francisco, CA
Laura Susan Johnson has created another unforgettable story of love and courage in the face of adversity. Do not expect a clone to "Crush". Bright is a different story, with 2 different lovers, but just as intricate, intimate and suspenseful as its predecessor. Instead of the kind of maliciousness that boldly shouts and curses our heroes, as in Crush, evil hides behind a benign facade, and as the author so appropriately describes, "an artificial enlightenment." Bright is a story of two achingly lovely men, inside and out, and their struggle to understand the love that binds them together so fiercely. They wage familiar family wars with one another about alcoholism, drug use, letting family members molest and manipulate them, and of course, the dangerous lure of life on the "greener" side of the fence.
Bright is also beautifully frustrating because it's hard to hate any of the characters in this book...Johnson actually improves on her ability to make every character, even the ones who seem the most loathsome, someone you can identify with. It seems everything is stacked against the possibilities for happiness for Walter & Monty. Walter is sick with what could be a terminal illness. Monty is still struggling to survive alcoholism, repressed pain inflicted by his parents, and suicidal feelings that appear out of nowhere. When they unexpectedly develop a wonderful friendship with a girl named Natalie, the threesome's attempts to have children are met with even more heartache.
In a nutshell, Bright is a wrenching story. I wanted to stop. Sometimes I had to for a while to compose my emotions. But in the end, I was glad to finish it. It was a huge reward, even though I had to go back to the store for a new supply of tissues!