A story about first love, first fights, and finding yourself in a messed up world, from the acclaimed author of Happyface. Walter Wilcox has never been in love. That is, until he meets Naomi, and sparks, and clever jokes, fly. But when his cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home, and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together? With black-and-white illustrations throughout and a heartfelt, humorous voice, Bright Lights, Dark Nights authentically captures just how tough first love can be...and why it's worth fighting for.
First things first, let's talk about that cover. Isn't it gorgeous?? Yeah, I have much cover love for this one. Now for the main characters: I loved the relationship between Walter and Naomi. Finally there was a realistic teenage relationship. Yes, they wanted to spend every second together, but that is true for most new relationships. But there was no talk of marriage or babies or spending the rest of their lives together. Yay! I also loved the banter between the two of them. I wish I could come up with snappy one liners the way they can. Then again . . . I don't have someone writing my dialogue. Ha.
This book had a lot of controversial topics in this book, but I feel it was handled in a very realistic way. The whole book was told from Walter's POV, so no one really knows what happened between Walter's dad and the suspect. No one that is, except Walter's dad and the suspect. At first, it seems like everything is on the up and up. It's one of those small events that snowballs into a huge media firestorm and suddenly it's viral. When everyone finds out that Walter is dating Naomi, some people even think he is doing it as a method of damage control for his dad to prove his dad isn't a racist. One of the main parts of this book that I appreciated was all the attention to social media. As much as it sucks, things like this are tried in the court of public opinion. Walter and his dad both get caught up in all the comments on Facebook. Judging by the comments, everyone was either anti cop or racist. It seemed obvious that the truth of what happened was somewhere in between. Walter is forced to confront the fact that racism does exist in his community when he starts dating Naomi. People shouldn't be bothered by a white person dating a black person in this day and age, but the truth of the matter is that some people are. And in this book, the people against this relationship weren't all white. Naomi does say make a great point when she tells Walter that racism regarding their relationship won't disappear when the scandal does. And she says it best when she says there are certain things Walter will never be able to understand because he is white.
What I did like about this book was that it forced the reader to look at both sides of the situation, but it did this without being overly preachy. What I didn't really care for was that we only saw one POV (Walter's). I would have loved to hear Naomi's POV. She was so vibrant and had so much to say. I would have loved to hear what she was thinking throughout all of this. Here's something else I didn't like: the character of Jason, Walter's friend and Naomi's brother. He was so angry that Walter broke the bro-code rule of not going out with Naomi unless Jason gave the okay. He kind of treated Naomi like she wasn't even a person at times. He also made it seem like Walter should get down on his hands and knees and beg for Jason's approval and Naomi's feelings had nothing to do with it. Annoying.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one. It is worth reading, but I am not sure I would want to spend my money on it.