The Hard Truth About Sunshine
The first and only book I read by this author was a sweet love story so I was not prepared for this one. Though complete opposites, they were both very well written. I intend to read more of her books for that reason. I love books that make me feel for the characters, and this author certainly knows how to accomplish that.
By Eileen A-W
Words fail me in trying to explain my reaction to The Hard Truth of Summer by Sawyer Bennett. This is not her usual, sexy novel. It is a story of four misfits who meet in a therapy group, two, who are court ordered, and the cross-country field trip they take. The story is told through Christopher’s voice. Christopher is an angry veteran injured in the line of duty and deserted by his family and girl as he heals. He sees no good in the world around him and in himself. On the journey he is accompanied by a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who doesn’t know if she wants to live or die. Four people with nothing in common, encounter adventure, thrills, love and loss as they learn about and from one another.
This was an intriguing and interesting story with very authentic characters. Ms. Bennett wrote an excellent story teller capturing the reader in the web of this story. Despite being a difficult story to read, I still highly recommend this book to other readers.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
A Powerful Story That I Won't Soon Forget
I was a little hesitant to start this because I knew it would be different from any Sawyer Bennett book I had read before. I'm so glad I didn't let that stop me though, because this book was amazing. It was a raw and brutally honest look at life, death, and everything in between. The author didn't pull any punches, and topics such as suicide and sexual abuse play key roles in the journey of our characters.
The story is told from the point of view of former marine Christopher, who has lost part of his leg and hand and suffers from depression and PTSD. He is so angry and bitter at the path his life has taken, it doesn't seem possible that he will ever climb out of his emotional prison. When he begrudgingly embarks on this cross country bucket list adventure with Jillian, Barb, and Connor, he has no idea how it will change him and everyone involved. This group was like the Breakfast Club meets the Goonies, with a whole lot of anger, depression, and death thrown in. There were certainly heavy times through the book, but there were also moments of much needed levity and humor. I felt the author handled the topics of suicide and sexual abuse honestly and realistically. My heart broke as each character's past and probable future was divulged and was particularly moved by terminally ill Connor.
This is a book to be experienced (with tissues ready) and I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by Lance Greenfield as well. His performance is so passionate and moving, that the more emotional scenes were nothing short of incredible. When I finished this book, I kept hearing the song "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie in my mind. One line in that song has always stuck out to me - "love is watching someone die, so who's gonna watch you die?" Though a sad sentiment at first glance, I personally feel it's what it means to truly love someone. Standing with them through the pain, set backs, and heartbreak and ultimately as they say goodbye. Like life, not everyone in this story gets a happily ever after, but the underlying message is choice. Choice to let grief overwhelm you. Choice to live what life you have left fully. Choice to leave on your own terms. Choice to open your heart and love and be loved in return. This is a powerful story that I won't soon forget.
The Hard Truth About Sunshine
Very rarely do I highlight passages in a book. This book is full of memorable phrases that I had to mark. It seems nearly the whole story is highlighted. That is probably an exaggeration but not the fact this is a beautiful, hard, wonderfully written story.
The story centers around a wounded Marine, a sexual abuse victim, a young man with cancer and a woman who is losing her eyesight who head out on a road trip. It sounds dreary and depressing. While it does have parts that are sad and inevitable, it is also about discovery, friendship, finding a purpose for living and about finding love. There are more than a few places where you will cry, but you will also laugh out loud in others. This story is going to stay with me. These characters. . . Barb, Connor, Jillian and Christopher are unforgettable.
Sawyer Bennett takes us on a very different journey from her other works, but it is well worth your time and a very rewarding read.
By Boundless Book Reviews
The Hard Truth About Sunshine is a heartfelt story, of a few very different people coming together, for the same reason.
Christopher was injured, protecting our country. He's become bitter and really doesn't care what anyone thinks about him. He can't let it go, which in turn is turning him into someone he doesn't truly want to be. That is until they all decide to go on a trip.
The road trip this four go on is enlightening. Bringing these four souls together. Where they find truths about themselves they didn't know existed. Though the topics are tough and the ending I didn’t expect. Sawyer was able to do this in a beautiful way.
The character development was great with Christopher. You could see his gradual change throughout the story. The only thing is, I didn’t emotionally connect with the characters. I did highly enjoy this story.
Overall, I give this 3.5 (Four) Boundless Stars
I am not sure that I have all the words to tell you just how deeply The Hard Truth About Sunshine affected me. This is such a powerful book and it struck my heart in ways that I am still attempting to process. This is emotional story to be sure and when the paths of four people converge in a library reading room, it sets in motion a chain of events from that are life affirming.
Four very disparate characters stuffed into a vehicle with their literal and metaphorical luggage on a cross-country journey - What could happen? Amazing things, that’s what. These four people could be any one of us and they serve as a reminder that we can’t see below the surface of the person standing next to us and that a little understanding can go a very long way. It is a privilege to get to know Christopher, Jillian, Barb and Connor, they are each amazing in their own ways, with a strength that defies any amount of measurement. But even more, getting to bear witness to the growth of their friendship is the true measure of this book.
Depression, death and suicide are topics that no one wants to talk about, but absolutely need to be discussed --- URGENTLY. There is a mental health crisis in our country, especially among veterans and teens, and we can no longer afford to sweep it under the rug. With The Hard Truth About Sunshine, Sawyer Bennett does an amazing job of shining a light in the dark corners and helping us understand it more than we did before. Empathy should be the default, when it comes to mental illness – not the cold shoulder of judgement.
Thank you, Sawyer Bennett for the gift of The Hard Truth About Sunshine. You gave us an unflinching view of these characters that is honest and respectful. It’s not always easy to read, but every moment spent in its pages allows the reader to step into Christopher Barlow’s shoes and see the world through his eyes. It is a journey well worth taking.
Laurie’s Rating – Not enough stars in the galaxy. This book is so heartbreakingly good. Please just read it.
The Hard Truth
I've never written a review, not really felt the desire to. But this book, this book has left me speechless, and every emotion you can feel. I've read Sawyer's books from the beginning & I absolutely love each of her books. This book was so different & when I read the bio before it was released I said to myself, this is going to be a book that is going to change me, bring me to my knees, etc.
And it truly did.
I myself have a dear friend who is an amputee, so I can see the relation with Christopher's emotions & my friends. I've battled depression, attempts with suicide, etc.
I just knew this was going to be a book that was I was going to connect with each character in such a deep way, in such a way I've never connected with one before.
And let me tell you, I wasn't ready to have these emotions, to have these feelings.
Barb, she was so dear to my heart- because I see a lot of myself in her.
Jillian, is who I aspire to be- with her hope, her optimism.
Connor, I hope to have the strength and courage he had throughout this story.
And Christopher, I'm glad he found his happiness, his sunshine.
This book completely rocked my world. I cannot put into words.
Thank you Sawyer, truly thank you.
For sharing this story & your story of meeting the young marine vet at the airport.
By Mom's Cooking The Books
I am at a loss for words! I have never been moved so much by a book before! So many of the authors I have read have given me the pain in the chest, lump in the throat, tears on the verge of falling, but never have I ever had tears leaking down my face as I sobbed my way through this groups journey.
The synopsis doesn’t do it justice. No matter what I write here will do it justice. I went into this book cold. I thought what could happen here. Is this a love story? Well let me tell you so much happened! This is not your typical Sawyer Bennett novel. It is so much more! This is the best thing she has ever written in my opinion. She touches on subjects that are delicate and it is handled with amazing care and in a very realistic way.
The story is so well written and smooth that even as you are experiencing all the feels in this book, time just falls away. I lost all track of time. I was taken away by this journey. It was like I was right there experiencing all they went through. There were laugh out loud moments. There were tender falling in love moments! Most of all there were moments that took my breath away.
These four people went on an amazing journey and I am so glad that I went along. If you want to read a book that will move you to the core, then this is the book for you.
I'm not crying. You're crying. (Actually, I'm sobbing)
By Marie-Elizabeth D
Disclaimer: ARC received in exchange for an honest review
Sawyer Bennett's latest novel, The Hard Truth About Sunshine, is quite a departure from her normal fare. More contemporary fiction than romance, this is a story of life, loss, and love. Told from the male perspective of protagonist and wounded ex-marine, Christopher Barlow, The Hard Truth About Sunshine provides a profoundly different perspective on armed service, PTSD, grief, abandonment, and sacrifice.
In many ways, this story reads like a John Green novel for a slightly older demographic. It has all of the right ingredients: a quirkily mismatched cast of characters; a road trip; a terminally ill character; a character battling depression and mental illness; and that one plucky character that radiates such irrefutable sunshine and optimism both you the reader and the object of said character's affection can't help but be inspired and changed.
Although Christopher reduces his grief group companions to cliches, Bennett never does. Because she doesn't resort to platitudes or didactic drivel, Bennett transcends the burden that comes with writing about heavy, difficult, and ugly subjects. Through the character of Jillian, Bennett gives the reader a healthy dose of perspective and imparts some hard-learned lessons without being saccharin sweet or self-righteous.
There's a lot of fundamentally bittersweet insight packed into these pages -- some wisdom that is foreign in concept and some truths that are familiar but maybe forgotten. But truly, this is a story that is going to stick with you for an indeterminable amount of time. It's going to niggle at the back of your brain because the depth and intensity won't be easily forgotten. Bennett writes deftly, with such sincerity and sympathy, and imbues this cast of characters with such wisdom, humanity, grace, and heart that the reader can't help but be affected by their journeys.
Wow, just wow!!
I am a die hard fan of Sawyer Bennett's and will read anything she writes. I probably should have read the description for this book before reading it. If you are going into this thinking it will be her normal romance books, it is not. It is heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Most books that I'm told will bring me to tears don't. This book had me ugly crying. Just be forewarned.
The book was very difficult to put down and reads very quickly. A broken Marine, a dying boy, a suicidal girl and a girl with an incurable disease, that meet somewhat through chance. Brought together by tragedy, their lives will be forever changed.
This is not a hot and steamy romance. It's tragedy with a silver lining, and somewhat of a HEA. You will have an emotional book hangover when you finish reading. The book was amazing, even with the subject matter. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex handy, you will need it. Some of the content may be disturbing for some readers. If I had to do it all over again, I would read it in a heartbeat. It was a amazing story, but it was heartbreaking, keep that in mind. Another book Sawyer Bennett knocked out of the park!! Happy Reading!!