Newbery Contender: “Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff

Book review: Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (tween fiction)

Kyle Lukoff is an author, a former school librarian, and a bookseller. He says he writes books for kids and other people. He is most known for his picture books, When Aiden Became a Brother, a Stonewall Award Winner, and Call Me Max, which recently has gained attention due to censorship for its LGBTQ+ themes. His debut middle grade novel is Too Bright to See, a National Book Award Finalist and sure to be a Newbery contender this year.

The start of middle school is fast approaching, and Bug’s best friend Moira has decided that now is the perfect time to start preparing and reinvent themselves a bit. Will they be the suave cool kids, the fun and flirty jocks, or the charming but gorgeous smarties? But Bug doesn’t want to be any of those things and just wants to be Bug. Practicing being a girl by doing makeup, deciding on the cutest boys in their class, and picking out perfect school outfits is just not appealing. There are bigger things to worry about, like the new ghost in Bug’s old Victorian house. Could it be Bug’s amazing, fun, and gay Uncle Rodrick who recently passed away? Or is it some other more sinister specter?

And can Bug and their mom even stay in their perfectly haunted Vermont home now that Uncle Rodrick isn’t around to help? Bug spends the summer striving to straighten out the mysterious new ghost and what message Uncle Rodrick may have left from beyond the grave. 

Kyle Lukoff, an own voices author (more info here and here), spins a beautiful tale of grief, growing pains, and self discovery. At one point, Bug looks in the mirror and thinks, “I’m always self-conscious of how hard I’m pretending.” Why do you think Bug says this? Have you ever felt like you were pretending?

Check out Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff, and let us know how you liked this book.

~ Ms. Christine

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