BOOK REVIEW: Every Bright and Broken Thing by Brian McBride

Every Bright and Broken Thing by Brian McBride is a book that you won’t soon forget.

Full of beautiful prose, this book is sure to break your heart. The story will haunt you and leave you aching. Read on for more of my thoughts on Every Bright and Broken Thing.

My Rating: Three and a Half out of Five Astronaut Murals

About the Book…

Haunted by the last question their mother ever asked them, the Greyson brothers struggle to cope with their grief and adjust to life after tragedy.

Semi-popular sixteen-year-old Liam spends his nights performing as the lead singer of his high school indie pop/rock band, Liam and the Landmarks. But something happened to Liam four years ago at his friend’s house – a secret Liam will take to his grave. But in small towns like Summit, Colorado, secrets always seem to find their way out. 

Twenty-four-year-old Ezra thought that he could cure his grief when he left Summit behind for a prestigious art school in Chicago, but things only got worse. Now a college dropout working at a gas station mini mart, he turns to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and meaningless one-night stands. But Ezra can’t run forever – life always catches up with you. 

With abrasively honest dual-perspective narratives, Every Bright and Broken Thing illustrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and the power in coming home.

Click Here to View Every Bright and Broken Thing on Goodreads ~ Click Here to Buy Every Bright and Broken Thing on Amazon

What I Loved…

The friendships in this book are so good. All too often, friendships get snubbed in YA fiction and romance is put on center stage, but that’s not so here! Yes, there is romance. But I feel like the friendships are just as, if not even more, important.

The author has a beautiful writing style; it’s full of prose and almost sounds like poetry. Here’s a quote from Every Bright and Broken Thing just to prove it: “I try to see my life in color, but the colors fall flat. Dull. Muted. Completely and irrevocably unspectacular.”

I loved the author’s descriptions. From settings to characters to thoughts to actions, everything that the author wove together read like art.

Just seeing Christian fiction makes me happy okay? I love love love Christian fiction and it’s really important and exciting to see another YA Christian fiction writer share a story, which is one reason I was so excited to see this book!

THAT COVER. It looks so good and am I being shallow mentioning how much I love it here? I hope not because WOW that is a great cover. And speaking of the cover…

Everything about this book is really professional, which you don’t often see in indie books. I was very impressed with this. If you had just handed me a page and asked me if the book was indie or traditionally published, I would’ve said traditional (not because indie is bad but because indie books don’t exactly have a reputation for looking professional).

The Sanctuary was so good to see in fiction. I wish that I could go there and volunteer and that a place like that was real for all of the homeless people of Chicago.

The supporting cast of characters (including Mama Gracie!) MADE this book. The author poured so much personality into the supporting characters, and it showed! I loved this so much because too often side characters get pushed to, well, the side. Here the author did them justice.

I love seeing guy main characters in a Christian fiction book. In my opinion, there aren’t enough guys, or really enough diversity, in Christian fiction. I loved seeing it here.

What I Didn’t Love…

It seemed overly poetic and prose-y sometimes. While I LOVED the writing style, sometimes I felt like it was… Too much. At some points it felt like the author was leaning too heavily on prose to tell the story. I loved the prose, but felt that there was just a bit much of it.

I felt like Every Bright and Broken Thing didn’t focus as much on the question that the boys’ mom asked them as I thought it would. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but I kinda wished I saw a bit more of it.

The ending felt super abrupt. Everything sort of just happened and then the book was over. Although it was a good ending that had me wanting to know more about where Liam and Ezra would end up, I wished that there was a little more to it.

I felt like the characters’ arcs barely changed during the book and then all of the sudden drastically changed. One moment they are lost and completely broken, and then the next they realize what they need to do. I could be the only one, but I felt that this happened too suddenly.

There were vague mentions of the church hurting the family, but we didn’t get a good picture of how or why. I thought that this should have been expanded upon a bit since it was such a big part as to why Ezra and Liam left God and the church behind.

It felt like the tone almost never changed. Everything felt dramatic, dark, and gloomy. I wish that the tone had some more changes instead of just staying at one level.

A Note on the Content…

This book is probably one of the few Christian fiction books I’ve read that isn’t afraid to get into the dark, gritty parts of our world. These subjects are not handled comfortably, and, frankly, they shouldn’t be handled in a way that makes us feel comfortable because we should not feel comfortable with these subjects. However, these subjects do need to be handled with care. I feel that the author did an okay job of not getting into too much detail while still conveying reality. Some of the subjects dealt with include: Alcohol, drugs, sex, rape, and thoughts of suicide and self-harm, amongst some other things.

With that said, I understand that not everyone is okay with reading books that have such heavy themes and topics. Because of the heavy themes and topics that Every Bright and Broken Thing deals with, I would not recommend it to younger teens. I’d say that a good age range for this novel would be at least 16+.

I will be doing a blog post series on hard topics in Christian fiction soon, so stay tuned for that!

Conclusion…

This was a very hard book to read because of the characters’ hurt and pain and because of the heavy topics it deals with. And that is not a bad thing. We need books that are hard to read, that illustrate the reality of our world and offer us hope and healing as this book does. Some other elements (not the “hard to read” aspect) kept me from falling as in love with this book as I wish I could have. However, it is a good book, and I’m sure that many others will enjoy this story and find hope within its pages.

About the Author…

A winner of the 2016 Wattys Award, Brian McBride published the award-winning Young Adult Contemporary debut, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, in 2018.

Born and raised in Oregon, Brian moved to California at sixteen, where he has lived ever since. He’s been writing since he was thirteen-years-old and has been reading for longer. Brian is pursuing a degree in Social Work, which he hopes to use to aid children and families. A fourth generation pastor and founder of the Pioneer Movement, he is passionate about his faith and longs to see Christians become all that they are called to be. Among other things, he is also passionate about iced tea, animals, adoption, and the arts.

Find Brian McBride on Instagram @brianmcbrideauthor and click here to visit his website.

Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you read Every Bright and Broken Thing? What are some indie books that you enjoy?

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