After an “incident” and a suicide attempt, Hunter finds himself heading to Camp Sunshine, the happiest place on earth and haven for depressed teens. Once he arrives, he meets fellow camper, Corin, who hatches a plan to break out of camp. In helping with the plan, Hunter ends up going deep within himself to figure out if he plans to run from the incident that got him to the camp in the first place or if he wants to stay and face it head on.
This is a totally different book from what the #cjsreads crew typically reads and, I’ll have to admit, when I first read the synopsis, I was hesitant. I had some serious issues with Thirteen Reasons Why and that whole craze earlier this year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as I delved into a book about teen suicide. However, the tagline for this book stated it was The Bell Jar meets Chuck Palahniuk. I was intrigued but a little bit confused. “What a combination that would be”, I thought to myself. So, my curiosity got the best of me and I dived in. Now that I have finished Sunshine is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan, I totally get it.
Given the subject matter, it is no surprise that this narrative is raw and honest but it is also, ironically, pretty funny. Using dark humour, Cowan’s narrative prose completely stood out using Hunter’s narrative voice. As he discussed his insecurities, his feelings, and his everyday life, I found myself accepting the information as if he was an old friend. I don’t usually read YA, simply because I don’t usually enjoy it nor can I relate. However, I found something different about this one. Perhaps the subject matter made it seem more mature? I’m not sure but I had no issues flying through the pages.
In my line of work, I often come across teens with suicidal ideations and I found the perspective of this book incredibly eye opening. You can read textbooks for days on the subject but this account felt so honest and real, it actually felt like it gave me a better understanding.
4/5 stars from me!
Thanks to the author and the publisher for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
Want to see if the other #cjsreads book appreciated this book as much as I did? Keep reading to see what they thought about Sunshine Is Forever.
What Chandra Thought:
This book reminded me so much of Girl, Interrupted as I was reading it. I realize it’s different in certain aspects, but put a group of teens in a setting where they are confined to an area and must confront their issues and boom, that’s where my mind goes. Hunter struggles to accept responsibility for “the Incident” and blames everyone else around him instead. As he feels isolated and unwanted by his parents and his only friend, he just wants to get rid of this feeling of being hated. Depression and suicide are hard subjects to write about and I feel the author did a fantastic job of putting you in the mind of Hunter. Completely raw in certain moments and utterly realistic, I think anyone who may struggle with these issues may have a hard time reading this.
I think all of us at some point has felt alienated or struggled to deal with our own demons. This book resonates in this universal feel. I did get a little annoyed with all the descriptive names that were repeated over and over again throughout the book: Optimistic Quint, Flinching Finley, Controlling Corin, Surgeon Dick, etc. etc. but I needed to know what “the Incident” was and even Corin’s past – this is what kept me turning the pages. What really got to me was the last few pages when everything comes to a head and I felt my heart break and then mend back slowly towards the final pages. I’ll certainly be thinking about this book for some time.
What Jessica Thought:
Normally the #CJSReads trio focuses on thrillers, horror, and crime books, so when the publisher sent this along with a few other books I was going into it blindly. SUNSHINE IS FOREVER by Kyle T. Cowan is definitely different from what I normally read, but I’m so happy that I gave it a chance. Teen suicide and depression are topics not too widely covered, and Cowan did a great job making this raw with a twist of dark humor.
Hunter Thompson has attempted to take his life multiple times. After “the Incident” and then losing his only friend, his depression began to get the better of him. He is then sent to Camp Sunshine – a rehab camp for depressed teenagers. He is determined to keep everyone at a distance, including his new therapist. However, there is one person that he feels he can open up to, Corin. Despite being warned that she is someone to avoid, Hunter finds himself drawn to her. When she tries to enlist his help in an escape will Hunter continue to run from his traumatic history or will a mistake force him to face the consequences?
I’d have to say that this book was a pleasant surprise for me! I didn’t know what to expect going into it and I had only read the description on the back of the book. I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up off the shelf (mainly because I’m awful at straying from the thriller section – I’m working on it though!) and I would have missed out. This is a great look into the mind of a teenager coping with his depression. This story is incredibly raw and realistic throughout. I kept flipping the pages so I could find out what “the Incident” was! I needed to know what happened to bring Hunter to where he currently was. Cowan created characters that the reader can instantly connect with and they were all unique. With it being a more serious topic, there was a dash of dark humor added in to lighten the mood.
Overall, if you want an incredibly realistic look into the mind of a teenager struggling with his depression and finding a way to cope, then this is one you need to pick up. Definitely one that I’m happy I took a chance on. As a warning, this could be a harder one to read for anyone that is or has struggled with similar issues.
I give this 4/5 stars!