Blog Tour: Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne – Review+Dreamcast+Giveaway


27779211Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne

Published: May 31st 2016 (first published 2008) by: Feiwel & Friends

Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQ, Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Coming-of-Age

Format: ebook Source: Blog Tour

My Rating: 4 Stars four-star-rating-black-md

From Academy Award-winning writer, actor, and activist in the LGBTQ community comes a groundbreaking story about love, prejudice, and being yourself.

Phoebe’s life in Neptune, New Jersey, is somewhat unremarkable. She helps her mom out with her hair salon, she goes to school, and she envies her perfect older sister. But everything changes when Leonard arrives.

Leonard is an orphan, a cousin who Phoebe never knew she had. When he comes to live with Phoebe’s family, he upsets the delicate balance of their lives. He’s gay and confident about who he is. He inspires the people around him. He sees people not as they are, but as they hope to be.

One day, Leonard goes missing. Phoebe, her family, and her community fight to understand what happened, and to make sense of why someone might want to extinguish the beautiful absolute brightness that was Leonard Pelkey.

This novel by James Lecesne, the cofounder of The Trevor Project, inspired the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway showThe Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | ibooks | Kobo

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I am still trying to find the right words for this book. It’s absolutely one of the most heavily issued books I’ve read in the YA genre. It not only deals with a character who embraces his sexuality, but also the power of love and hate. By the end of the book, I didn’t know what I wanted to happen. That’s a first for me because I always know how I want a story to end. This story is more on the dark side of contemporary, so be prepared for the not so happy moments.

What I Liked

-I absolutely love Leonard Pelkey. He’s a colorful character, and full of life to be so young. He’s like sunshine on a cloudy day. His personality made it hard for most people he encounters to hate him. There was bullying from his peers, but there was also admiration from older people he came across. He made you question your moral integrity, in a society that is not comfortable, or even understands, the lives of the LGBTQ community. Leonard never really says “I’m gay”, and that is what this whole plot boils down to in the end. The mystery behind his disappearance, and subsequent finding, was really heartbreaking. I did not see any of the things that happened in the last half of this book coming. 

– There are some great moments leading up to the mystery that I love. And, yes, they all revolve around Leonard and his vibrancy. I love his fashion, his wisdom, his everything. I love the way that his step-aunt opened her home to him. I love how he fit in so well helping out at her salon.

-Seeing Phoebe change at the end was really what I wanted, so that was a great aspect of the story. She clearly had to in order to come to grips with what happened. That’s not to say I loved her character in the beginning. Which brings me to my dislikes.

What I disliked

-Phoebe as a narrator was interesting, yet annoying. I don’t like the way she thinks. Clearly it’s all about her and her standing in the household. She already pales in her sister’s Deirdre shadow. So having Leonard come to town, in all his flamboyant glory, was unsettling for her. I just don’t like the way she wanted to stuff him in a box and forget he was even there. Kinda hard to do when he stands out.

-The mystery wasn’t that hard to crack. It was pretty clear about the whodunit. 


Yes. Hell yes. This is more on the shady side of humanity, but it is a story that needs to be read. As a reader, you get to decide what the ending should be by hearing all the arguments. As I’ve said, I’m not even sure how I wanted this book to end. This story makes you think, and I am glad that I read it. If you are looking for a great book to read for PridMonth, this is that book.



PicMonkey Collage

Left to Right

Bryce Robinson as Leonard

Debby Ryan as Phoebe

Ava Allan as Deirdre

Liam James as Travis

Asa Maxwell as Curtis

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JamesFor over 25 years I’ve been telling stories. Whether I’m writing, acting, producing or trying to create social change, it’s usually the story that got me involved. But in the process of getting things done and trying to make the world a better place, I’ve also been telling the story of my life. This website is my best effort to provide the general gist. But my hope is that you find something here that will inspire you to live your life more fully and continue to tell your story.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter


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See full giveaway rules in Rafflecopter. One person cannot win more than one prize in a same giveaway. Read the FFBC Tours Guidelines in their website for more information. 

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Follow the Absolute Brightness tour. Click the FFBC button below to visit the other stops on the tour, and up your chances of winning a copy of this amazing book!


23 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne – Review+Dreamcast+Giveaway

  1. I’m not sure if I want to read this one. Don’t get me wrong, I liked how the summary sounds. It seems really interesting but I’m not the biggest fan of heavy contemporary. I enjoy it when I feel like it. I don’t know, I’m still really interested though. Great review!


  2. Wow great review! I am very intrigued because of the way you intro’d the book and that you didn’t even know what to happen (I’ve rarely had that feeling when reading but it is powerful). Glad you liked this, seems like an important book!


  3. OMG. This sounds like a tough yet DELIGHTFUL read! I can already tell this book is going to affect a lot of people and hopefully it’ll be a guide for those going through the same thing! I’m all for embracing yourself and being who God created you to be. It can be hard sometimes in the world we live in. *shakes fist at the world* but, yeah… I’m blabbering, I KNOW.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Keisha! ❤


  4. I hadn’t heard of this one before, but it sounds really interesting, especially Leonard’s character. It’s a shame about Phoebe and the mystery not being unpredictable though.
    Thanks for sharing!


  5. Ooh I hadn’t heard of this book before. I think what I like most about it is the sound of the mystery and Phoebe’s development by the end of the novel. This one sounds really moving, and also like it can be enlightening to a lot of people. Also, your dream cast is perfect. I would definitely watch the movie if it was cast that way myself as well!


  6. Huh, my interest is definitely peeked. It does sound complex and attention-grabbing. Didn’t know about it so appreciate your book thoughts, Lekeisha!


    • I know you read a lot of M/M books that are more on the romance side, but I think you’d really like this. It will make you angry on certain parts, and you’ll probably cry, but it’s very worth the read. I think this is a revised edition because it was first released back in 2008.


  7. This book sounds really interesting.I like the fact that it has some mystery to it alongside the heavy themes. I will look out for it. Great review.


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