Google+ Reading Teen: Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

We're so excited to be a part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS.  Thanks so much to Harper Teen for providing a copy for review.

Bright Young Things

  • Reading level: Young Adult (upper YA)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Author's Website:

This story is set in 1929, at the height of Prohibition, and it follows the lives of three 17/18 year old girls as they try to make their mark on New York City.  The main character of this book, Cordelia Grey and her friend Letty Larkspur have fled their small town in Ohio for two very different reasons.  Letty believes that she is meant to be a star.  She knows that if she can only be seen in New York, that her entire life will change.  Cordelia's reason is a very different one.  She's looking for her father.  Through some investigating of her own, she thinks she has found him.  But will the rich and famous bootlegger accept her as his daughter, or will he throw her out on the street?  As Letty follows her dreams, and Cordelia finds her family, they meet two very different types of New Yorkers.  While Letty tries to push her way into the spotlight, Cordelia makes the acquaintance of the rich socialite "flapper", Astrid Donal, and the two become fast friends.  Astrid seems to have everything she could ever want, money, a wealthy boyfriend, the attention of everyone around her, but when she meets Cordelia, she realizes that the one thing she is missing is true friendship.
Set in the dizzying summer before the market crash, against the vast lawns of the glamorous Long Island mansions and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, three girls will find scandal, intrigue, and romance... 
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book!  I have to be honest, when I first saw it, I thought the cover was beautiful, but I didn't actually think it would interest me.  I was SO wrong!  When I went to look this book up, the call number was YA GOD.....was that a sign?  I think so!  I read it in one day!  ONE DAY!  I have a husband and three kids....that never happens!

The setting of Bright Young Things was so incredible.  I'm not a very visual person, so the fact that this book played out for me like a movie, is really saying something.  I could see everything so clearly, from the girls, to the city, to the dresses, and the hair styles, it was all explained so clearly!  And it wasn't just that she described things well, it was that she described them using the language of the time.  Like for instance, when she describes Cordelia, she says:
"[Her eyes] were the sweet, translucent brown of Coca-Cola in a glass ..."
Every sentence is immersed in the time period, and YA GOD made me feel like I was there. With speakeasies, bootleggers, cigarette girls, Broadway, socialites, gangsters, parties, and the Chrysler Building at night, everything about the writing and the setting sucked me in to 1929's New York City.

Then there was the chemistry between Cordelia and Thom.  It was a true Romeo and Juliet romance as Cordelia's family and Thom's family were bitter rivals.  Cordelia is forbidden to see him, which, of course, only makes her want to see him more.  The only thing better than a good romance, is a romance with a little mystery behind it.  Why do their families hate each other so much?  Is their relationship real, or are they just using each other?  These are the things that kept me turning the pages late into the night!

Not everything is roses, though, for the three girls.  Letty is finding that becoming a star is more difficult than she ever imagined, and she has to make hard decisions about how far she's willing to go to pursue her dream.  Astrid is watching her family deteriorate around her, and Cordelia is trying to find her place in this strange new world of bootlegging and danger that she finds herself in.

As the girls experienced heartbreak, sadness, thrills, danger, romance, friendship and devastation, I found myself rooting for all of them.  They were all so very different, and had such varied experiences of New York, but I loved them all.  The prologue says:
"One would be famous, one would be married, and one would be dead."
 Now tell me you're not intrigued!

Meet Cordelia Grey

Meet Letty Larkspur

Meet Astrid Donal

You may want to know:  This book has no profanity, but the girls are definitely living lives as adults in NYC.  There is a lot of talk about drinking and smoking and bootlegging, as was popular at the time of Prohibition.  There is also some sexual content with some details.  For more information go to Bright Young Things on Parental Book Reviews.


  1. Oh, that prologue!!
    Yup, gotta have it =)

  2. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh *screams*
    I need to read this book, I need to!
    But I have so many other ones to read... OMG, if you loved it, I'll love it too!!!!!
    Master Jedy, I really miss you...
    I'll be counting down to Deathly Hallows in NY with pics on my twitter account, check it out! starting tomorrow!!!! =)))

  3. Liv! !

    I know, I hate having no internet, I feel so disconnected!!

    You're going to see HP in NYC??? I'm so jealous! I've been trying to get advanced screening tix in DC but no luck so far. I'm so excited though. I've been listening to all the books again, and all the movies.

    Hope you love this book too! Have you read the Lux books? I'm going to read them soon.

  4. I was hesitant about reading this one but now I think I defnitely will. Thanks for the review.

  5. I want to read this so badly. Oh, goodness... I can so easily see myself drooling over this! I WAS MEANT TO LIVE IN 1929. Well, in a 1929 that wasn't leading to depression. ;D

    Thanks for the fantastic, enthusiastic review!

  6. I am definitely intrigued! I liked the idea of a book set in the 20s, but this is the first review that's made me want to run home and read this one right away! Fabulous!


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