Skip to main content

Spotlight New Releases: Sunshine Is Forever

Hello, everyone! Today's is a very special post for me as I am reviewing my first ARC (more on that at the bottom). I was intrigued by the summary of Sunshine Is Forever from the second I read it, and I am now so excited to get to share my review of this amazing view into depression and the motives behind self harm and suicide. The impactful story is one I place up with many of my favorite books that tackle mental illness. It also features a male protagonist with a great voice, which we honestly don't see enough of in YA. Anyway, without further ado, to celebrate Sunshine Is Forever's publication, I am bringing you my full review of this new YA mental health fiction novel from a new author to the world of YA.



Sunshine Is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan
*Trigger warning specifically for self harm and suicide*
Overview: Hunter suffers from depression. While he's dealt with it his whole life through ineffective therapy and medication, his condition is worsened by the Incident which left him an even more absent family and rejection from his friend group. Hunter tries to commit suicide three different ways following the Incident, and each time, only his dad sticks by him. During his latest hospitalization, the discharge doctor recommends sending him to Camp Sunshine for the summer which is a camp billed to help teens with depression. The reality of "Camp Suicide" as the campers call it, is far from helpful and more of a prison than a chance to improve wellness. At camp, he meets new friends and a mysterious girl he can't quite figure out. When she loops him into a dangerous plan to break out of camp, he can't say no, following her blindly which leads to dangerous circumstances for all involved. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I found the characters of the novel to be realistic and well rounded as well as greater than the issues they represented. For much of the book, the camper's reason of enrollment, including Hunter's, are hidden from the reader, though heavily hinted at, giving the reader and author a chance to grow and form opinions about the characters from face value. This method also allows the extra layers of complexity to grow from the past with each seedling that the reader is given.
The relationships established over the course of the story seemed very honest and organic. Each choice was made with a distinguishable motive, and there were no moves within the relationships whether they be friendships, romantic relationships, or mentorships.
I found the relationship that Councilor Kirk tried to form with the campers to be one of my favorites. In the prison-like environment, he seemed to be the only one truly concerned with the camper's wellbeing and tried to connect to them personally. Even when the camper's pushed him away, Kirk consistently came through for the kids in big and small ways, and that really gave a necessary dose of humanity to a camp that is generally worse than prison.

Plot: 5 The plot of the novel was well executed. There were many complex storylines stemming from the different relationships and intricacies that surrounded the camp and camp life, and I never felt that one got lost or was underserved because of how many there were. The book carries the high stakes tone throughout, and the reader is constantly kept guessing about the details of these characters pasts and what exactly happened as well as being roped into the action happening in the present.

Writing: 4 As well as the beautiful execution of the above categories, I thought that the Hunter's voice shone authentically throughout. The writing showed Hunter's genuine progression through his time at camp through minor shifts in his worldview that were integrated seamlessly transitioning the reader from old Hunter to new Hunter with each progressive experience. The voice holds and endearing rambling quality that rings very true to life, though sometimes the author seemed to loose a bit of control over this swerving into redundancy before checking himself.
I also must commend the depiction of Corin's obvious and well established manipulation of Hunter and his extreme willingness to follow her. While this idea often takes a turn for the unrealistic, Cowan does such a great job of showing Hunter's self-assurance and rationalization, it makes total sense why the events unfolded the way they did.
By withholding all the major details about the past till the end, Cowan sets the reader up for a major bang right at the end, and that greater understanding ties the story up with the perfect bow.

If You Liked This Book Check Out:
Looking For Alaska by John Green (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html) which has many similar aspects as it takes place in a boring school and there are great both friendship and romantic relationships similar to this, though the focus is not technically mental health. It is another great male protagonist driven book.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

*I received this book from Inkshares Publishing via Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.*

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

The History of Jane Doe

The History of Jane Doe by Micheal Belanger (2018)
Overview: Ray knows the entire history of his hometown, Burgerville, Connecticut. He also knows lots of different tidbits about the world as well. But, for his first written account of history, the story must center on loss, why, and fleeting moments of happiness. He has to tell the story of his first girlfriend, hidden by the anonymity of the name Jane Doe. Told in Before and After chapters, Ray explores the highs and lows he had in his fleeting relationship with Jane and his recovery from crushing loss. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Jane is coping with clinical depression that probably stems from a combination of family history and past trauma. She goes between trying to hide her scars and struggles and exposing them, tiny piece by piece to the people she loves.
Ray is fascinated by Jane and the way she looks at the world and the town he's lived in all his life with fresh eyes.
His friend, Simon, is dorky and not quite all together b…

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

Valentines To My New Favorite Books

Over the last two-ish months since I posted my Best of 2018 list, I've found tons of amazing titles! Since they aren't 2019 releases, they won't be on my next year end list, so I thought I'd honor them by writing valentines to each of these amazing books!
I've also thrown in one bonus 2019 that I'll definitely be talking about all year long that you should preorder now!



Down And Across by Arvin Ahmadi This book just made me happy. Scott doesn't know where his life is headed, but, as the world is fascinated with grit (and loves to tell young people they have none), he decides to head to Georgetown to seek out the professor who is an expert in it. And then he doesn't take no for an answer till he scores himself somewhat of an internship. Along the way, he befriends a few college kids, starts working at a bar, and learns a thing or two about the world outside of high school. I love books that skew on the older end of YA and explore life outside of high sch…

Monday's Not Coming

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Overview: When Monday isn't there for a spinning hug with Claudia when she gets back from her summer in Georgia, Claudia knows something is wrong. When Monday isn't at the first, second, or third day of eighth grade, Claudia tells her parents they need to do something. But Monday lives in the projects with her single mother and her situation isn't something people talk about. It's Patti's business what she does with her kids. But when the stories about Monday's whereabouts keep changing and the police refuse to look into it, Claudia has to take matters into her own hands to find Monday. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 The characters bound off the page. Claudia's voice is so strong, and her friendship with Monday is so honest. From the parents to her teachers to Monday herself, Claudia makes the characters around her come to life. Even minor characters have motivations and details.

Plot: 4 My advice is to ignore the cha…

Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (295 pages)
Overview: Mara's twin brother is accused of rape by her friend. Mara's attempt to go back to being best friends with her ex-girlfriend isn't working. Mara is so lost. Sisters, best friends, parents, and everyone at school have an opinion about what happened between Owen and Hannah in the woods. Mara's mom, who's always been a devout feminist, is suddenly vehemently denying that Owen is at fault. Mara isn't so sure. Even though she loves her twin and can't imagine him as a rapist, she knows her best friend would never lie. Overall: 5+++++

Characters: 5 Mara is a wonderful character. She's so honestly confused and torn up about what happened, but she quickly aligns with Hannah. Supporting her best friend becomes something for herself, as well, though, because Mara is a survivor too. She takes Hannah's pain like her own as everyone at school and home takes Owen's side. Mara has to come to terms w…

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (372 pages)
Overview: Tash has a lot going on. Her family is unsettled with impending arrivals and sisters leaving the nest. She's co-running a You Tube production company that explodes with her best friend Jack, and she's grappling with her sexuality and the possibility that she's ace. New fame, new family, and possibly new romance all threaten to make Tash's world explode, but, somehow, she's keeping it all together. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Tash is so amazing! She's a real human being that springs to life and invites you to see the world through her eyes. One thing that I particularly love is that, even though Tash doesn't believe it, you know she's smart by the way Ormsbee chooses the perfect words and mature sentence structure. Trying too hard to make characters smart is something a lot of authors falter with, but the execution of presenting Tash's personality is perfect. The way that Tash deals with her ch…

Immoral Code

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark (February 19) Overview: Five teens- one big heist. A group of friends band together to commit the ultimate in hacking to siphon off enough money to send their friend Bell to college at MIT. Because of her absent father's immense wealth, Bell gets rejected for financial aid at the school of her dreams. Not that her father is agreeing to pay any part of tuition, or even acknowledge her existence. Outraged at this, Nari, coding genius, creates a plan to play Robin Hood and ropes their other friends into risking jail time for Bell's dream. Will they pull off a job that would be ambitious for a team of professional hackers and con men or will they face the steep consequences and ruin five lives? Overall: 4

Characters: 4 There's a crowded stage when it comes to characters, but that doesn't mean that their individuality gets sacrificed. Bells is a science genius with a bright future despite having to fight against the near poverty her father sunk h…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…