Rise to the Sun

Rise to the Sun
Age Range
Release Date
July 06, 2021
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From the author of You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson delivers a stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark. Olivia is an expert at falling in love . . . and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her. Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward. When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for. Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined. Packed with irresistible romance and irrepressible heart, bestselling author Leah Johnson delivers a stunning and cinematic story about grief, love, and the remarkable power of music to heal and connect us all.

Editor review

1 review
powerful YA contemporary romance
Overall rating
Writing Style
RISE TO THE SUN is a charming YA contemporary about being true to yourself, friendship, and the power of support. The book is told from two alternating points-of-view, Tori and Olivia. Olivia is escaping her life with her BFF, Imani, heading to a musical festival under the guise of a church camp to get away from her serial heartbreak and the impending school trial she is supposed to testify at. Imani only agreed to attend if it would be a best friends trip and Olivia wouldn't get distracted by any potential romantic interests.

Tori is taking this trip to the musical festival with her BFF, Peter, and she feels a lot of ways about music. It is all tied up in her father's story and trying to decide who she wants to be. The siren call of music is strong, and Tori is heeding its call for the weekend during the summer before she heads to college. As soon Olivia and Tori meet, they are like planets in orbit, hopelessly drawn to the other.

At the festival, they enter some contests to win golden apples, which could potentially win Olivia a car. The game is afoot, but each are dealing with their own obstacles. With a weekend of music, they'll have time to talk, connect, and grow.

What I loved: This book is relatively quick read that is smoothly paced. I loved the way that information is slowly revealed as we meet these two characters, and how easy they are to cheer for together. The dual perspectives was done perfectly. Both Tori and Olivia grow a lot as characters and people over the course of the weekend, and I love how they contributed to the other's growth with heaps of support. The importance of support and belief was certainly a theme, and it was really powerful.

There were many really thought-provoking and strong themes in the book, including around gun violence, PTSD, anxiety, friendship, abuse, music, and feelings. This is truly a life-changing weekend, and I loved the way we can see each character coming to epiphanies, reaching self-discovery, and finding paths forward from the experiences they have.

What left me wanting more: The only thing I could have wanted was more about Imani and Peter, particularly Imani, who was given a lot of complexity, but whose story was in the background for the most part. I really wanted a deeper dive into her character and would have loved if she had a POV in the book too.

Final verdict: With compelling characters and an unexpected weekend of self-discovery and romance, RISE TO THE SUN is a quick and charming YA contemporary read. Recommend for fans of FOLLOW YOUR ARROW, IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY, and ON THE COME UP.
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