Bright Young Things is the first book in Anna Godbersen's new YA historical series.
The year: 1929
The place: New York City
When teenage girls' Letty and Cordelia step off the train into New York City after escaping their suffocatingly small Ohio town, they both have clear goals.
For Letty it is the inevitable climb to stardom, having the petite frame, big blue eyes, and voice of an angel - her mother died when she was quite young, but not before telling Letty that she was made for bigger things. That she was special. But she learns that sometimes girls' use more than their talent to get famous...
Cordelia's goal is just as strong, but more secret. Since she was little, her strict Aunt has told her all about her dumb mother who went off to be with a dangerous, penniless man named Darius Grey before she died. Well, Darius has become quite infamous in the Manhattan papers, and Cordelia is determined to find out if the man is her father. Her search leads her to unexpected, sudden results that lead her down a path that is much more crime-ridden than she ever thought it could be...
But Astrid doesn't have any clear goals. She floats around a mansion, waking when she pleases, being almost accidentally beautiful, and without cares. Yet, she is plagued with the indiscretions of her mother, the unstable love of Charlie Grey, and her own lack of purpose.
The three lives intertwine and pull apart as they try to find themselves, love, and fulfill their dreams amongst the riches of Long Island and the dangers of the Prohibition, during the time of speakeasies and jazz.
Oooh, a new series by Anna Godbersen! How could I not read Bright Young Things after the lovely satisfaction the quartet of Luxe novels?
Without giving away any of the details, as Anna's books are pretty much a bevy of secrets, deceptions, and lies, I will say that I found Bright Young Things to be engrossing, intriguing, and especially disconcerting by the enigmatic prologue, which announces that one of these three girls will be dead before the next year. It instantly casts a mystery element over the entire novel, constantly making you wonder which of three girls' it will be.
Bright Young Things has quite the intense, flavorful first chapter that helps to give off the feeling, early on, that this tale is going to be a poignant, historical, page-turning, bittersweet, coming-of-age story. Godbersen easily enamors us with the atmosphere of 1929 and imbues each of her characters with life and varied personalities, each happily individual and unique. We have Astrid who is airy and iridescent, strong and yearning Cordelia, and sweet, naive, big dreamer Letty - all of which have layers and depth to scratch more at than we got a chance to in this first novel.
It's dramatic and deliciously absorbing, a quality all of Anna Godbersen's books seem to possess. Though the third quarter of Bright Young Things seems to hit a bit of a slow down, where the plot seems to plod a bit and soak up a little too much detail and a little too little development, it's still a great read.
I felt that Bright Young Things was a strong opener that would have been even stronger without the strangely lackluster second half. But once the climatic end came around, I knew I'd be more than willing to read the sequel and see where these interesting, juicy characters are going next!