Review of “Pure Sunshine” by Brian James

Pure Sunshine is about this: drugs.

That’s the number one thing you need to know about it before you dare to pick it up. It should be obvious from the title, but I figured I’d let all those who don’t know anything about drugs in on the secret. You could also read the back cover to be informed.

Pure Sunshine was a book that I bought when I was in high school, and it was a book that my fifteen year old self enjoyed. Hey, it was about drugs, and teenagers who know better than to actually try drugs read about them. Or I could be wrong about that assumption,  but that’s how it seems to me.

But now, approximately 7 years after I originally read it, I don’t understand how I could have enjoyed it. This is also coming from someone who had been through enough writing courses to have some sort of idea what is interesting writing. Okay, that was kind of mean, so I take it back. A little.

Pure Sunshine is from the publishing house PUSH, the same publishers of Kerosene, and if you read both books back to back without knowing that, it’d be pretty obvious. Pure Sunshine has the same thing wrong with it that Kerosene did: too much exposition. But at least this time I was halfway through the book until I realized that I had barely read any dialogue. Instead, the author would tell you what was being talked about. Example: We talked about what our plans would be that night.

That’s not a real example from the book, but that’s how it was. But I would like to know what type of plans they are making. Dialogue does more than inform the reader of what is going on, it reveals a lot about characters.

The characters in this book were a little more relatable because they hail from Philly, which is right across the bridge from me. But I didn’t really know much about their personalities to really know why they did the things they did. Half the time I felt that the author was taking a leaf out of J.D Salinger’s book because his main character was reminiscent of Holden Caulfield. You know, hating all the phonies in the world and all that.

Then you get to the plot. Oh wait, you don’t because there was no plot. Not really. The entire story followed around this group of teenagers who spent two nights in a row on acid. That’s it. They didn’t really seem to have a plan besides getting high. Then of course you find out all this information that would have been really interesting to know about, but instead of going into it any, the author just mentions it for two sentences and moves on. I would tell you what it is, but in case you do want to read this book I don’t want to spoil it.

And honestly, if you want to read this book you should. I did. Twice. When I was fifteen I enjoyed it. It was at a time when I read nothing but young adult teen books similar to this. And some of them were actually good. This one wasn’t too bad from what I remembered, which is what made me want to reread it. But once you graduate to books by Jane Austen and Franz Kafka there really is no going back. Not unless the book is pure gold.

If you know a teenager, though, who enjoys reading teen fiction, this 150 page book may just be the choice for them.

Grade: B-

One thought on “Review of “Pure Sunshine” by Brian James

  1. I also read this book wheb I was younger, probably about 14. I loved it. It was my life, I had a close group of friends and I can say acid was deffinetly my favorite. I related so well to it. I was just thinking about it today..8 years later and all the reviews I have read about it make me feel like I missed something.

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