From the dedication at the beginning of the book until the acknowledgements at the back, I was completely captivated by this story. It has taken me a few days to try and get my thoughts together in order to write this review. The Hard Truth About Sunshine is one of those special books that has touched my heart and soul. After reading the synopsis, I knew that this book was going to be emotional, heartbreaking, and that it had the potential to take me places that would be dark and slightly uncomfortable. It was all of these things, but it was also so much more. This is a heartfelt journey between four unlikely people who are each struggling with their own issues, demons, and uncertain futures.
The Hard Truth About Sunshine is the coming together of a foursome of who, under normal circumstances, would never associate with each other. They met in a peer group setting for people who suffer from traumatic stress and depression, each of them there for their own reasons. Christopher would rather be anywhere but in that group environment. He’s only there to avoid jail time for assaulting someone. Barb is there because her dark past has given her a death wish. Jillian, the eternal optimist, attends because she’s slowly going blind. Connor is a seventeen year old who has terminal cancer.
The book is told from Christopher Barlow’s point of view. He’s a former Marine who was severely injured during his tour in Afghanistan, resulting in his leg being amputated. But Christopher lost more than just his leg. He’s lost all hope that he will ever be able to have a good and normal life. He’s given up on the idea of love. He’s bitter, hateful, self-centered, lonely, and miserable. He’s unable to see past his own pain to see anyone else’s problems or suffering.
When a cross country trip is suggested so that Connor can cross items off of his bucket list, well, Christopher isn’t really onboard with the whole idea. He doesn’t really want to spend any more time with these people than he has to, but when he’s told that his participation would end his mandate with the group, well, the idea just got a little bit sweeter.
I loved that this book was told from Christopher’s perspective. His jaded, tell-it-like-it-is sarcastic nature added to the story. It often added the much needed humor too. He may not have been the kindest person to be leading this band of troubled people, but this was just as much about his journey as it was theirs. This road trip was filled with adventures, new experiences, high jinks, freedom, and living. With every mile that was traveled, every bucket list item that was accomplished, Christopher’s attitude was slowly changing, his walls were starting to crumble. The group was beginning to feel more comfortable with each other, having fun, revealing secrets about themselves, and discovering some hard truths.
This book is extremely emotional, but don’t be fooled, it’s also filled with plenty of heartwarming moments, humor, and scenes that will make you smile. There is also a romance that develops during the cross country trip. I wouldn’t classify this book solely as a romance, it’s so much more than that, but the romantic element did add a whole new level to the story.
With every page read, I could visualize this whole story playing out. I could see this book making a phenomenal movie. The Hard Truth About Sunshine hit all of the marks for me. It made me feel the whole gamut of emotions. When I pick out a book to read, I want to feel the story in every fiber of my being, and this book did that. From beginning to end I was engaged in this story, and I could have easily stayed with these characters for another three hundred pages. I am so glad that I embarked on this unforgettable journey with this incredible cast of characters.