Being an individual in today's society, especially when you're 14 is a nightmare, one that Pheobe's newfound cousin Leonard lives every day. When Leonard, in all his bright, flamboyant, glory comes to live with Phoebe, her sister, and her mom, she dreads having a new person in the house, but really dreads it once she meets Leonard. He wears neon colors, builds his own platform shoes from layers of brightly colored flip flops and spends more time making over her mom's hair salon customers than he does trying to belong with kids his own age. Leonard is a target for bullying in every way and Phoebe slowly becomes disinterested in helping Leonard out of his scraps, no matter how nice he is to her.
When Leonard disappears, Phoebe finally takes an interest in Leonard, though she fears it may be too late. The skinny, boisterous 14 year old boy makes an even bigger impact on the small town of Neptune when he's missing, than he ever did when he was there every day. The story goes on to describe just what happened to Leonard and the aftermath on both Phoebe's family and the town of Neptune. Leonard wasn't scared to be himself, but everyone else was frightened when he was.
Absolute Brightness, written by James Lecesne, had such potential...unfortunately it just didn't do it for me. Waaay too much was going on in this almost 500 page novel. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be about Phoebe and her reaction to being drawn out of her comfort zone or if it was about Leonard and his courage to be an individual in a world of copy cats. Too many twists and turns, that I feel were unnecessary were constantly being introduced, with issues of both Pheobe and Leonard, plus a late introduction of an problem with Phoebe's sister and then a problem with Phoebe's boyfriend. Too many problems, too much info, took away from a great story. Chop the book down to about 300 pages and the novel probably would have been a success with me.
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