Summary: Bright by Brigit Young
Marianne Blume has convinced herself that she’s not smart. She’s gotten through school so far by charming teachers out of questioning her. But her eighth-grade teacher, Mr. Garcia, isn’t easily fooled. To pull up her grades for high school, Marianne tries to win his favor by joining the school’s trivia team (which he coaches). But as the term progresses, Marianne bonds with the trivia kids and learns that there’s more to being smart than book smart — but also, she’s more intelligent than she gives herself credit for.
I LOVED this book so much — it’s definitely one of my favorites this year. After a presentation gone wrong (years before), Marianne convinces herself that it’s easier to act like the stereotypical “dumb blonde” than it is to try (and maybe fail). This begins a pattern of behavior that carries through middle school. When teachers ask her questions, she pokes fun at herself and avoids answering by cracking the class up and fatiguing the teacher. She’s sure she’s perfected this method until Mr. Garcia.
Marianne’s best friend, on the other hand, seems to be improving at school but feels like she needs to hide that from Marianne, which strains their friendship. I loved Marianne’s family — especially her parents. It’s not easy for them to understand her challenges, but they try to be supportive, and eventually her mom even helps her with studying.
Joining the trivia team is life-changing for Marianne because she’s forced to try. I loved learning all the trivia and watching the relationship between the kids evolve over time. It was also moving to see Marianne discover her strengths as an encourager, team player, and even learning facts. This is one of those books I struggle to review, but as a parting thought — just read it!
Overall: Bright by Brigit Young
Bright is a deeply insightful book about labels, persistence, and self-belief, featuring themes like sisterhood, female friendships, and family. This one will be extra meaningful to the kids (like me) who are so afraid of failure that they stop trying. It also teaches a valuable lesson that learning isn’t effortless — for anyone. More importantly, it’s a poignant reminder that book smarts aren’t the only valuable skill. People skills are incredibly powerful, especially for leading others. Overall, a stellar novel worth reading.