A Life of Bright Ideas
February 7, 2012 (next Tuesday!)
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon
A Life of Bright Ideas is the stand-alone sequel to The Book of Bright Ideas - it continues Winnalee and Button's story but you don't have to have read The Book of Bright Ideas (I have not yet) to read, follow and enjoy A Life of Bright Ideas.
In the time between the two novels, Button's mother has died and her father has all but abandoned his children - Button's six-year-old brother is now living at her aunt and uncle's home.
Giving up college for a job sewing for the bridal shop her mother started, Button is figuring out how to be an adult and how much responsibility she can take on when the childhood friend she's never forgotten or stopped missing, Winnalee, shows up out of the blue.
Overjoyed at having her best friend back in her life, Button is figuring out how the free love, wild child, Winnallee fits in her rather ordinary, follow the rules life. After all, the most excitement Button usually has is writing to the friend she fell in love with back in high school who's stationed in Germany.
Just as the two are finding a rhythm, someone else shows up with a rather big surprise that Button, at least, never saw coming. A surprise that will throw them, but might be just what everyone needed in the end.
Review: Sandra Kring has a true talent for writing great family relationships. A Life of Bright Ideas shows a whole family - or families - and how they interact with each other without anyone really getting lost on the edges. With parental relationships, pseudo parental relationships, romantic relationships, sibling relationships, friendships - really just about everything you can have - present, it would be understandable if someone got lost in the shuffle.But no one does. Not even the dog.
There are not extraneous characters or settings or things in A Life of Bright Ideas to draw the characters' - or readers' attention away, to distract. With only a handful of main settings/locations in the book, the characters lives are very insulated - there's just the few homes, the Corner Store, the bridal shop - but it allows them and us to focus on what they do together.
It's why the book works so well and can be so emotional at times. The characters - as well as their relationships, or because of them - grow and develop over the novel becoming stronger and even more connected with each other.
While I haven't read A Book of Bright Ideas I can't believe anyhow who has would be disappointed with how Winnalee and Button's lives turned out.
A Life of Bright Ideas had a lot of the same things I loved in How High the Moon (the only other Sandra Kring book I've read thus far): the kids who have that perfect blend of mischief and innocence, who really seem like real kids; the interesting and complex parental figure/child relationship; the great friendships.
This is not a YA book, but given Button and Winnalee's ages and that they're both trying to figure out how to be adults, I think it has great crossover appeal, at least for older YA readers.
What a fantastic, at times emotional read - I know I'll be watching for any future releases from Ms Kring . . and also reading The Book of Bright Ideas!
(thank you to Sandra Kring and Random House for my copy of this book)
Other books you might enjoy: Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts and Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler