ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS by James Lecesne

ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Arriving on the Jersey shore, flamboyant Leonard Pelkey stomps into Phoebe’s life on platform sneakers and complicates her disconnected family relationships. Befriended by blue-haired old ladies, Leonard’s makeover enthusiasm garners him both friends and enemies. When Leonard’s body is recovered after his sudden disappearance, Phoebe and her family must address their conflicted feelings about Leonard’s murder and his absence in their lives. Armchair detectives, the Iraq war and sexual molestation all crowd their way onto the pages of this meandering narrative. Leonard’s enthusiastic personality, though reminiscent of the fabulous Billy Bloom from James St. James’s Freak Show (2007), never forges a similar emotional connection with readers and leaves them feeling exhausted. Electra’s expositional 11th-hour speech concerning the nature of good and evil is a drastic departure for the character, and seems more pontificating than heartfelt. As a character and narrator, Phoebe’s self-involved nature makes her entirely forgettable, and her improbable relationship with Travis, Leonard’s killer, is another cheap manipulation. Lecesne’s work on the Trevor helpline serves as a beacon of hope, but this bloated narrative clouds the issue of homophobia and teen sexuality. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-125627-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Laura Geringer/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007