Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Bright Unknown
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: October 22, 2019
This poignant and heartbreaking novel explores the power of resilience, the gift of friendship, and the divine beauty to be found in the big, bright world—if only we’re willing to look.
Pennsylvania, 1940s. The only life Brighton Friedrich has ever known is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of Riverside Home—the rural asylum where she was born. A nurse, Joann, has educated and raised Brighton, whose mother is a patient at the hospital. But Joann has also kept vital information from Brighton—secrets that if ever revealed would illuminate Brighton’s troubling past and the circumstances that confine her to Riverside. Brighton’s best friend is a boy she calls Angel, and as they grow up together and face the bleak future that awaits them, they determine to make a daring escape.
Nothing can prepare Brighton and Angel for life beyond Riverside’s walls. They have no legal identities, very little money, and only a few leads toward a safe place to land. As they struggle to survive in a world they’ve never seen before, they must rely on each other and the kindness of strangers—some of whom may prove more dangerous than the asylum they’ve fled.
Narrated in Elizabeth Byler Younts’s gorgeous style, The Bright Unknown is a sparkling search for answers, family, and a place to call home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.
How did this story unfold in your mind?
It was 2014 and my dear Grandma-in-love (law) was visiting from Oregon. She’s an absolute joy and a wonderful woman. I love her dearly. Over one of our meals she mentioned a story to me and it went something like this.
Joann grew up for many of her formative years in Oklahoma and there her mother had a friend who was a nurse in a mental asylum. The nurse would come for coffee on occasion and she told Joann’s mother that there was a patient there who had had a child and that the child was being raised within the walls of the asylum. Years later Joann moved away from Oklahoma and that child would’ve been at least 18 by then, and,to her knowledge was still living at the asylum.
I didn’t know anything more than that. I didn’t know the mental condition of the girl or her mother or why no one came for her. I knew there were next of kin laws for asylum patients and perhaps her next of kin wanted nothing to do with her. And my mind spun. And wandered. And wondered. I needed to know more.
So I decided to write what I conjured up. And this the seed of this tale grew into The Bright Unknown. And now you can partake in this story!
Does the intense level of emotion in your writing ever seem to affect your personal life?
I think more than anything it begins to spark conversation between my husband and me and sometimes my daughters. Emotionally I think the writing itself is what affects me negatively more than the content I’m writing. The content usually helps me to grow in empathy and desire more fellowship.
Was there a character that stuck out as your favorite?
Brighton and Angel are like sweet bookends at being a favorite. Brighton is inquisitive and not willing to give up and Angel is that precious, pure heart that everyone needs in their lives. Between the two of them I was always with a friend. I think that readers will be especially drawn to Angel because of his purity and loyalty. I think readers will love Brighton because they will be desperate to see her fulfilled and whole. Their journey is not for the faint of heart, but it is so worth it!
What was your biggest challenge while writing?
The character journey for Brighton was the hardest. She held her cards close to her and I had a hard time getting to know her as a writer—that might sound crazy, but it’s a real thing. So much hinged on Brighton’s character being just right—her development and growth and personality—and I had to really re-evaluate the plot and even requested extra time to do a pretty significant revision (read—rewrite). I got input from some key people and was able to dig deeper and deeper.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from this novel?
Since every writer comes to a book with their own circumstances, baggage, fears, and hopes I can’t say I know what I wish for them except for one thing. Empathy. Fiction should provide us a space to build our empathy and with that to grow in fellowship with one another. If someone learns more about mental illness or perhaps about identity or belonging—all of that can point toward empathy. This puts us in community with one another to learn and grow together.
Can you tease about what’s next for you?
Unfortunately, I’m not able to share my next project yet, but I hope to soon! But just rest assured, there will be more. 🙂
Bummer you can’t tease yet, but I’ll be on the lookout for what’s next! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!
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