Thank you so much to my friends at Simon & Schuster for sending me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Facing the Sun, an upcoming YA novel by Janice Lynn Mather. This novel follows four girls over a summer in their small neighborhood in the Bahamas. Nia is desperate to branch out away from her overprotective mother. Her next-door neighbor is KeeKee, a poet with an estranged father. Eve is the local pastor’s daughter and is often helping her family with her brood of younger siblings. Faith is a dancer and dealing with her mother, who is mentally ill.
The setting of this novel is beautiful. The girls and their families all live in the Pinder Street neighborhood, right near a beach. But change is coming to the neighborhood — developers have bought up land on the beach to create a resort. This change sparks a series of events that changes their families, their neighborhood, and their friendships forever.
I thought the novel was a really great examination of friendships, as well as an interesting perspective on what it’s like living in a neighborhood on the outside, looking in on the tourism industry. I also liked learning a bit about the geography of the Bahamas and seeing how the society of this island nation works.
The novel is set up so each character shares their point of view on what’s going on. Unfortunately for this novel, it didn’t work so well. It took me a while to learn about each character and find their voice, and the short sections didn’t allow us to really get to know each character well.
In all, this was an enjoyable YA read. Trigger warnings for infidelity and adultery, sexual risks, teen alcohol use, cancer, and mental illness. 3.5/5 stars!