Brighter Than the Sun

Brighter Than the Sun
Age Range
Release Date
March 21, 2023
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This timely and thought-provoking story about a teen girl shouldering impossibly large responsibilities and ultimately learning that she doesn’t have to do it alone is the perfect follow-up to Daniel Aleman's award-winning debut novel, Indivisible.

Every morning, sixteen-year-old Sol wakes up at the break of dawn in her hometown of Tijuana, Mexico and makes the trip across the border to go to school in the United States. Though the commute is exhausting, this is the best way to achieve her dream: becoming the first person in her family to go to college.
When her family’s restaurant starts struggling, Sol must find a part-time job in San Diego to help her dad put food on the table and pay the bills. But her complicated school and work schedules on the US side of the border mean moving in with her best friend and leaving her family behind. 

With her life divided by an international border, Sol must come to terms with the loneliness she hides, the pressure she feels to succeed for her family, and the fact that the future she once dreamt of is starting to seem unattainable. Mostly, she’ll have to grapple with a secret she’s kept even from herself: that maybe she’s relieved to have escaped her difficult home life, and a part of her may never want to return.

Editor review

1 review
heartfelt YA contemporary
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BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN is a consuming YA contemporary. Sol (short for Soledad) is 16 years old, and she is the only one in her family who was born over the US border and thus a citizen. Therefore, she leaves home early every morning to leave Tijuana and travel across the border to attend high school. She dreams of going to a good college and doing something amazing with her future career. However, since her mother's death, her family has been struggling, and their restaurant has hit hard times.

To help make ends meet for her family, she has taken a job in the US at a retail store warehouse, where at minimum wage, she will make more than anyone else in her family could in Tijuana. To do so, she will be staying with a friend, away from her family during the week. This is particularly difficult because of her younger brother who is dealing with bullying, and her desire to help as much as she can. With the new job and school, Sol is finding herself a bit overwhelmed and missing her family - at the same time, she can now have more of a social life than she could when she had to spend so much time commuting across the border. Her complicated feelings grow as the story continues until she is left with a choice.

What I loved: This was a lovely story about family, choices, the struggle to have/do it all, prejudice, friendship, and grief/loss. While it has been some time since her mother died, Sol and their family feel her loss acutely. She stepped into her mother's shoes in a bunch of small ways, helping to hold the family together, doing dishes, and taking care of her younger brother. While the job is taking her away from home, it also gives her the opportunity to strengthen her friendships in ways she has not previously. Her guilt and complicated feelings around this are a source of internal strife.

Beyond the central story with her family and their business, Sol and other students who also commute face prejudices in school and she begins to see these at her job too. Her brother is also facing bullying, but for seeming too sensitive. This hatred is a heavy weight to bear for both of them and for another student, who is facing it acutely in a possible suspension.

Although it deals with some heavy topics, the story manages to have a lot of bright spots as Sol balances the things important to her and comes to some of her own realizations about what she wants and what matters the most to her. She also meets a boy that she develops feelings for, and learns that while Soledad feels like a curse to be lonely, she does not have to be alone.

Final verdict: BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN is a heartfelt story of internal conflict, family, and figuring out what matters most.
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