Series: Bright Side #2
Published by Self-Published on 5/19/15
***DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BRIGHT SIDE***
The journey that began in top-rated, best-selling Bright Side, continues...
This is the story of Gus.
And healing along the way.
“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half ... the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”
This review contains Bright Side spoilers. Hell, the synopsis contains Bright Side spoilers, so if you plan on reading Bright Side, get the hell away!
When I read Kim Holden’s books I feel like she’s writing to me and me alone. I feel connected to the story as if it’s mine. That’s her gift, and I’ll cherish it as long as she decides to write because her work makes me better. Bright Side was one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read…fuck that, it was the most emotional book I’ve ever read and it made me question my life and choices more so than any other art piece has before. Gus was the same. It didn’t strip me raw like Bright Side did (thank Jesus, because I didn’t have anything left), but it impacted me just as deeply. It was emotionally charged, but it was truly the balm I needed for the gaping wound that Bright Side left in my soul.
Gus was my most anticipated read of the year. I’ve been waiting for his story since I closed Bright Side. The way we left him…his anguish, the sheer devastation of his grief as he faced the horrible prospect of continuing life without his soul mate, his best friend, his bright sun, his everything. To say it was heartbreaking would be a fucking gross understatement. He was a wreck, I was a wreck, it was a mess. It was amazing. So of course, I was dying for his story. I needed to see him whole again as I would a dear friend. I bonded with this character, and I ached for his happiness.
His journey was a hard one, and I was in a state of constant anxiety as I watched him battle through his grief. In the beginning of Gus, I ached so much for him as he made some devastating choices in order to bear the pain. His actions were reckless, but they were honest. His grief was a living, breathing thing, and it consumed his whole being. Kim Holden portrayed the total devastation that someone feels when they lose someone they love perfectly. She didn’t hold back, but then she couldn’t hold back, because we knew how much Bright Side meant to Gus, so she had to honor her memory and show the great impact that she had on the people she left behind.
Gus is an artist, so he’s a sensitive soul and he gives life everything he has, and when life hits him, every part of him is bruised. I must say, I loved this part of the story. No, I’m not into people’s pain, but c’mon, Gus is the epitome of the broken rock star, and unlike other rock star stories where you only get a hint of what they’ve been through, you know Gus’ full story, so you feel the full impact. Knowing who Gus really is makes his transformation from sweet, lovable rock star, to brooding, sexy rock god that much more amazing. Commence the swooning.
While Gus battles to come from under his dark cloud, he also has to deal with Scout MacKenzie. The record label assigned her as Gus’ assistant, and Gus can’t fucking stand it. I. Loved. Scout. From the moment Gus laid eyes on her and nicknamed her Impatient, I knew that their story would be epic. He thought that she was cold and judgmental, and she thought that he was a spoiled rock star asshole. I was grinning like a damned fool. Not because I was jonesing for Gus to fall in love (I still wasn’t ready to let go of Bright Side), but because I knew that what he needed was a friend who would tell him to his face that he needed to get his shit together.
With a mix of a lot humor and tolerable emotional angst (and smoking hot sexual tension!), Holden built a friendship between Gus and Scout. They were both dealing with heartbreak and, even though they didn’t know it, their reluctant friendship helped them heal. And isn’t that just exactly what it’s all about? Kim Holden showed me once again that what is important in life is building true and honest relationships with good people. Not with perfect people, since that’s not real, but with people who look at you and see you, and still love you. People who feel your hurt and cry for you. People who try with everything they have to make you smile.
I think that Kim Holden is that kind of person. I believe that with her writing she’s acknowledging that she sees us all and she loves us. I think she knows that we hurt, and she hurts with us. I know that she tries to make us smile, even if in order to do that, she has to make us cry first. And yes, Gus will make you smile. By the end of this story, I was smiling so big and so bright. She creates these stories with these characters that are so very identifiable, so that we’ll see ourselves when we read about them, and we’ll have the courage to live to be happy too. Some might call that cheesy, but do you know what I say? Cheese is delicious.
Read Gus and feel fulfilled. You don’t have to read Bright Side first, because it can stand on its own, but why wouldn’t you want some Bright Side in your life? It just makes Gus that much better. That’s it though, isn’t it? The pain makes the pleasure so much sweeter.