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A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cute A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.


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A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cute A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.

30 review for Too Bright to See

  1. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A great book can inspire a great review but it’s not a one-to-one correlation. Just because I’ve read an amazing book for kids, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to string words together that make that fact tangible to anyone else. Many is the time that I’ve sat down to write a really ripping review only to find my fingertips failing over and over again to convey what it was about the book that was so very great. Authors, I have found, are still very kind when this happens. Your review A great book can inspire a great review but it’s not a one-to-one correlation. Just because I’ve read an amazing book for kids, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to string words together that make that fact tangible to anyone else. Many is the time that I’ve sat down to write a really ripping review only to find my fingertips failing over and over again to convey what it was about the book that was so very great. Authors, I have found, are still very kind when this happens. Your review might be a mighty font of mediocre and still they’ll tell you that it made them feel good. But other reviewers and members of the general public? They know. They know and you have to walk off realizing that you just completely failed to help place that book in the firmament of great children’s literature where it so richly deserves to be. Well not today, suckers! Today we are going to drill down and get right smack dab into the middle of why Kyle Lukoff’s Too Bright to See is as groundbreaking as it is. Because this isn’t just your average ghost story. When we talk about wanting to see a diverse range of books for kids, this is precisely what we should be thinking of. And yes, there will be oodles of spoilers. Best know that right now. Uncle Roderick is dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever, about that. Bug and Bug’s mom, who lived with him for many years, are distraught but getting by. Of course, for Bug, things are never actually normal. Their house is haunted (always has been) but that’s par for the course. What's strange is that middle school is looming and Bug’s best friend Moira is determined to get them ready. That means makeovers, nail polish, shopping for clothes, the works! Bug’s not sure what to think about all this, even before the ghosts start acting increasingly strange. First there’s a broken bottle of nail polish. Then the destruction to a bedroom. As things escalate, Bug begins to suspect that this is the work of a brand new ghost. A familiar ghost. A ghost with a very specific message, but only if Bug’s ready to hear it. Once I was on a plane flipping channels and I came across a ghost-related docu-series that appeared to have been strapped for cash in the course of filming. The television show was recounting a typical low-key haunting. Nothing like spooky noises or faces reflected in glass or anything like that. It was just that a woman had taken off her shoes by the front door, walked to the couch, and taken a nap. When she woke up the shoes were neatly tucked under the couch where she slept. Reader, I found this unspeakably terrifying. You can try to pull out all the usual horror techniques, but that simple act of something in your home not being quite right . . . that’s my nightmare. It is for that reason, then, that I highly enjoyed the scares Kyle puts in this book. There’s a kind of poltergeistish sequence that will probably get more attention from the kids, but for me the freakiest moment in the whole darn book is when Bug wakes up and sees everything in the bedroom has been thrown into chaos. Silently. While Bug slept. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to crawl under the covers of MY bed right now, never to return. I’ll spare you a description of the moment when Bug wakes up and opens a sock drawer. Yet horror for horror’s sake rings hollow. You could get a ripping good yarn out of it, but horror is often most interesting when it gloms onto an aspect of society that someone, somewhere finds horrifying. The film Get Out is both a classic body snatcher storyline and a comment on race. Likewise, Too Bright to See takes little moments and makes them both scary and smart. The best of these is what Bug sees when looking in a mirror. Sometimes, we hear, the face in the mirror isn’t Bug’s. It does everything Bug does, perfectly, but it’s not BUG’s face. “It looks like someone’s idea of what I look like, without me behind it.” There are other examples of this, like the dream where Bug feels compelled to keep putting dresses on, even though they’re painful, and cannot seem to stop. Some kids will read, or even reread, this book and see what Lukoff's doing with these moments. And when they do they'll have this fantastic lightbulb moment. The kind of thing an author lives for. There’s a moment at the end of the book where Kyle does something in his Author’s Note that I’ve never really seen before. He admits that if you tell other people precisely what this book is about you “might feel like taking away your friend’s chance to fully experience the story.” There’s an element of surprise about this book and Kyle addresses that. How does one discuss this book with other people, if you want to retain that element of surprise? He might as well be talking to reviewers too. You already read my warning up top that there would be spoilers in this review, so here’s the facts of the matter (which you may already know anyway): This is a trans narrative for kids, couched in language that could make sense to everybody. For example, at one point in the book Bug discovers information about transgender people under Uncle Roderick’s bed. “A lot of the trans people telling their stories talked more about a general feeling of not-rightness. Like people looking at you through a frosted glass window, guessing at what they were seeing.” And Bug, in the course of things, is discovering that he is trans. As this book becomes more and more famous (and it will) we’re going to have people approach it with assumptions of their own. And for them, reading this book will be about hearing about Bug’s journey. Bug, who doesn’t just feel like other people are looking at him through frosted glass. He’s seeing himself that way too, for quite some time. What Lukoff does so well here is zero in on the changing self as self. This is perfectly stated when Bug critiques the “be yourself” advice that kids get. What “self” exactly? Books for kids do this all the time. “But those books never tell you how to figure out what your self is. They assume that you know already, and are pretending to be someone else for a while to fit in.” The book is so good at making Bug’s understanding of self as vague as it feels at that age. There’s a desperate honesty to it. Really, I kept thinking about how well Too Bright to See would pair with Pity Party by Kathleen Lane. Because that’s 2021 in a nutshell: The Year of Global/Bodily/Interior Uncertainty. Both books zero in beautifully on the dichotomy between what kids feel like and what they present. There’s a moment when Bug remembers being around a new kid named Griffin, trying to act “normal”. “Being around Griffin, just for a few minutes, felt like I was practicing how to be a better version of myself. It needs work, but maybe if I practice often enough it will start to feel natural. Maybe it will stop being something I have to practice, and something I’ll just be. Maybe that’s what growing up is like. Practice makes a person.” Don’t ask us, kid. There's a whole slew of adults out there wondering that very same thing. It doesn’t hurt any that the writing’s great. One such moment is when Bug is thinking about the different knots of kids in the cafeteria of the new middle school. “And I imagine myself floating past all of them, always on the outside, no one noticing me, because there’s nothing to notice. Like their groups form a complex molecule, a perfect organism, impenetrable and complete…” Or how about the time when Bug is wearing a dress borrowed from Moira: “It looks good, and makes my stomach hurt … More like I’ve swallowed my bike chain. Greasy and cold, rising up into the back of my throat, making me shudder.” Okay, I’ll stop myself now. But seriously, this is good stuff. Kyle’s a former school librarian so you know he’s read a LOT of middle grade novels over the years. That can actually be a bit of a problem for a writer. I can’t speak for him, but I know that when I write I can sometimes have a hard time separating out different plotlines that I’ve already seen in books for children from the ones I myself want to write. The trick is to incorporate what you know. Take this book. At one point Bug has been given a surprise birthday party by Moira with a bunch of strange girls. It reads, “If this scene happened in a book, the older girls would be a little mean to me. Not outright bullying, but subtly making sure I know that I’m not one of them.” Oh god, it’s not just librarians like us that are tired of that trope. Kids are tired of it too. They are so familiar with the seemingly obligatory passive aggressive bullying scene that I can almost hear them all release a breath they didn’t know they were holding when Kyle wrote this. The girls who are hanging out with Bug? Nice people! Nice decent people. Did you know that they made nice decent people anymore? You wouldn’t if you read the bulk of MG novels out there. This book’s a breath of fresh air. Now I’ll admit that it can be dangerous for an author to admit to the tropes of middle grade literature. Why? Well, why do you think they get used all the time? Easy drama. Take away that drama and what do you have? But the thing about this book is that there is plenty of drama. It just happens to be internal. And if the dang book ends with an understanding principal, nice kids, and a school that has five single-stall restrooms evenly spaced throughout the building, let it! You really can’t critique a book for giving its hero a supportive environment at the end. Anyone who says this ending is “unrealistic” will, in part, be saying that if a trans character doesn’t suffer at the hands of society then something is wrong. And that, my friends, is just stupid. I’m an adult who reads books for children. Many, many books for children. Normally this isn’t a problem but on occasion I have to grab my own kids and use them to figure out if an author is doing something obvious or hidden. At one point in the book, Bug starts receiving messages from Uncle Roderick. The Ouija Board’s words give Bug a hard time, trying to figure them out. Looking at them, I thought it would be incredibly obvious to kids, but I wasn’t sure. So I grabbed the nearest 9-year-old and read the passage to her. To my infinite relief she was not seeing what I was. Not even slightly. It was both a relief and a reminder that when we critique books written for an audience to which we do not belong, we need to be careful about our assumptions. Eleven years ago, trans author Jenny Boylan wrote the middle grade fantasy novel Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror. And at the time we simply didn’t have any middle grade trans narratives, and that book seemed to be edging (slowly) in that direction. But compare that book then to this book now. Back then everything had to be couched in these metaphors so thick you could hardly see through them. Kyle Lukoff? His books are transparent. You see what he’s saying as he’s saying it, even if what he’s saying is couched in mystery at the story’s start. There’s not a wisp of obfuscation about the enterprise. Fans of ghost stories may find themselves disappointed that this book ends in self-discovery rather than a rip-roaring showdown with a furious phantom. They’ll get over it. The publisher sold this book to me as Doll Bones with a trans narrative and maybe that’s the best description you should hope for. Smart. Original. Necessary. Thank god we have this book now. For ages 9-12.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hal Schrieve

    I got a free ARC of this book via NetGalley. I don't know how to begin here, except to say that as I write I'm still happy-ugly-crying from reading the majority of this book all in one go over the course of one evening. I do think that grown-up trans people might have this response a lot more than the kids who this book is intended for. Fair warning for all grown-up trans people. Uncle Roderick just died, and Bug is about to start middle school. Bug, always a bookish, slightly weird, slightly lone I got a free ARC of this book via NetGalley. I don't know how to begin here, except to say that as I write I'm still happy-ugly-crying from reading the majority of this book all in one go over the course of one evening. I do think that grown-up trans people might have this response a lot more than the kids who this book is intended for. Fair warning for all grown-up trans people. Uncle Roderick just died, and Bug is about to start middle school. Bug, always a bookish, slightly weird, slightly lonesome child, loved Uncle Roderick, a gay man and drag queen who acted as an additional parent; now, in the wake of his passing, Bug is faced with the absence not only of Roderick, but of a childhood hiding in the ambiguity of vague tomboyishness. Bug's best friend Moira (formerly known by the tomboyish moniker Mo) feels she and Bug need to be made-over before the start of middle school in fall, and brings makeup and nail polish around constantly to try to fix the issues she sees with both of their vibes. Bug hates this, and also has no other friends. There is something had has never really clicked between Bug and other people. Bug narrates the details of life in the third person: "she went wading in the creek, catching minnows," "she climbed a tree," and imagines constantly that the events of Dickensenian fantasy books are what's happening instead of real life. Sometimes Bug looks in the mirror and Bug's face isn't Bug's face. But that's just how mirrors are, right? Then there's the ghosts. Bug's house is old (it's in Vermont) and it's always had ghosts. Bug feels them in cold spots, in vague hands snatching, and in dreams that once terrified baby Bug, sending baby Bug spinning down the hall into Uncle Roderick's arms. But now there's something else happening. Strange violent pranks seem to be targeting Bug, destroying small things around the house and hurting Moira. Bug knows Uncle Roderick wouldn't want to hurt anyone, but his presence also seems to definitely linger-- strange things point to his spirit still being present, sending Bug down a rabbit hole of combing through Roderick's things and researching ghosts desperately at the library. Bug realizes that if Roderick is still around, he must be trying to tell Bug something. But what? And why did Roderick have all those materials about accepting trans youth in his closet? A note appears, in Roderick's hand, in chicken scratch, but the words aren't words. Bug can't read it. There are more trans kid books now than there used to be, and I appreciate the slow fattening of the meat on the bone, so to speak, but this is the first book I've found that captures and appreciates the haunting hollowness of adolescent dysphoria. I loved ghost books as a kid, and I think the unearthly feeling I had in my own body was part of why. Lukoff's real/unreal magic that is viscerally true to Bug but invisible to others works perfectly and is both chilling and undeniable. There is a beautiful scene where Bug stands in a creek and hears a strange chorus of ghost voices who shout out to him, filling his head with noise, but indecipherable--the chorus thins out until Bug hears a voice that is unmistakably Roderick, shouting, then talking, then whispering comfortingly-- but whose words are not comprehensible. Lukoff pairs the pain of living with a sensation of alienation and distraction one can't identify with one of the other major negative emotions I experience as a queer person: grief for the people who came before you who cannot speak to you in the ways you need, because they're gone. The loss of our queer parents, our caregivers, generations of people we might have been or loved or been loved by, is overwhelming, but it's something that kids feel too. In Lukoff's vision, our loved ones also love us, and they sometimes scream to us when we need to hear truth about the world we live in now. And we can love them, and they know. Bug ends up okay in this; Bug experiences no bullying or cruelty, though there is grief and alienation and misunderstanding and financial precarity. This is as upbeat a book as any you will find, but it's also engaged deeply with the realities of living, and it is an honest and absolutely necessary thing to provide our children with. (And for me and other grown-ups, our baby selves, hidden in us).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Stoddard

    A fast-paced story about gathering all the clues to discover who we are and how we fit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Bug has always lived with their mom and uncle in an old, haunted house in the woods, but it feels more haunted than ever when Uncle Rodrick dies. It feels like he is trying to tell Bug something, but what? Middle school starts in a couple of months, and Bug's friend Moira is all too eager to jump into the "girl" world of makeup and boys, but Bug isn't so good at acting like a girl, wondering if their friendship can still last. Too Bright to See is such a heartwarming and bittersweet novel, both Bug has always lived with their mom and uncle in an old, haunted house in the woods, but it feels more haunted than ever when Uncle Rodrick dies. It feels like he is trying to tell Bug something, but what? Middle school starts in a couple of months, and Bug's friend Moira is all too eager to jump into the "girl" world of makeup and boys, but Bug isn't so good at acting like a girl, wondering if their friendship can still last. Too Bright to See is such a heartwarming and bittersweet novel, both lyrical and to the point. Lukoff captures grief and pre-teen growing pains in such a realistic but ultimately healing way. I needed this book as a kid, and even reading it now as an adult has moved and mended me during my time with it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kiley Young

    Bug’s house in rural Vermont has always been haunted: there are cold spots, inexplicable chills, and sometimes when Bug looks in the mirror, there’s something about the face looking back that just seems...off. When Uncle Roderick dies, the paranormal activity increases, and the hauntings seem to be targeting Bug specifically. To make everything worse, Bug’s best friend Moirah has made it her mission to help both of them reinvent themselves before middle school. For Moirah, this means embracing a Bug’s house in rural Vermont has always been haunted: there are cold spots, inexplicable chills, and sometimes when Bug looks in the mirror, there’s something about the face looking back that just seems...off. When Uncle Roderick dies, the paranormal activity increases, and the hauntings seem to be targeting Bug specifically. To make everything worse, Bug’s best friend Moirah has made it her mission to help both of them reinvent themselves before middle school. For Moirah, this means embracing all things girly, and sleepovers with her devolve into makeovers and talking about boys. Being girly feels like so much effort to Bug, and Bug feels like Moirah is slipping away. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. Parents of middle grade readers, parents in general, educators, and humans (so basically, everyone I know) should pick this one up. There are middle grade novels that are clearly written just for a middle grade audience, and then there are middle grade novels with universal appeal. This is definitely one of the latter, and I think this book will resonate with readers of any age who have ever felt other, whether they share experiences with Bug or not. As an adult reader, I got a kick out of references to things from my childhood, like American Girl dolls, The Babysitter’s Club, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Too Bright to See is a phenomenal exploration of grief, loss, growing up, friendship, (view spoiler)[gender identity, and gender expression. (hide spoiler)] Bug’s experience with (view spoiler)[gender dysphoria (hide spoiler)] is subtle, heart wrenching, and plays with the idea of the things that haunt us internally vs. the supernatural things that haunt us. (view spoiler)[Often, the narratives that we’re presented about transgender characters are about characters who have always intrinsically known their true gender identity. Bug doesn’t know that he’s transgender until he knows, and that realization makes all of the other pieces fall into place. I am thrilled to see this book continuing a trend that I’m beginning to see in Middle Grade fiction. While there is conflict in the book, ZERO PERCENT of it is about Bug’s coming out as transgender. Bug’s Uncle is encouraging (from beyond the grave). Bug’s mother is joyful and a fantastic advocate with the school. The school is supportive and already has protocols in place to support and protect Bug. Bug’s friends don’t question it. There is no bullying. This is what we need to model for our young people. I’ll link to #ownvoices reviews of this one as they pop up. Representation: Transgender protagonist, gay side character(s), positive depiction of drag culture Content warnings: Death of a parent, death of a quasi-parental figure, gender dysphoria, subtle pressure related to gender role conformity (hide spoiler)] Big thanks to Edelweiss and Dial Books for providing me with an advance copy for review. All opinions are my own. Too Bright to See is available to pre-order now, and available in stores tomorrow, 4/20/21.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Freedman

    Bug is having a rough summer. Her beloved uncle just died, her mom is in trouble financially, she's starting middle school in the fall, and her house is haunted. Middle school is the worst for kids who are different, but perhaps buoyed by Uncle Roderick, Bug seems to have a good sense of self and clarity about who she is and how she wants to be. She's not into the girly stuff her best friend Moira likes. As it turns out, neither is the ghost, or poltergeist, or...Uncle Roderick? Regardless, when Bug is having a rough summer. Her beloved uncle just died, her mom is in trouble financially, she's starting middle school in the fall, and her house is haunted. Middle school is the worst for kids who are different, but perhaps buoyed by Uncle Roderick, Bug seems to have a good sense of self and clarity about who she is and how she wants to be. She's not into the girly stuff her best friend Moira likes. As it turns out, neither is the ghost, or poltergeist, or...Uncle Roderick? Regardless, when (view spoiler)[ Bug finally figures out what the haunting is all about and understands that he's a boy, it's less scary than he expected. Moira is chill about it She rolls her eyes. "I mean, it's not really something I get to be 'okay with' right? It's just, like, who you are." I love this relatable revelation from Bug, once he's onto himself.And all of a sudden I understand why people like shopping. I mean, don't love it. I'd still rather read, or ride my bike. But now that Moira is helping me pick from the boys' section instead of the girls', it's actually fun. (hide spoiler)] Too Bright to See is cool because it's an issue novel hidden inside a mystery. It also has takes that feel entirely appropriate to a kid who likes to read and has a rich inner life. Bug dissociates, narrating life in the third person, until the reveal toward the end. It's a gentle story, despite being about a big topic, or at least a topic that seems big to people born in the 20th century. I hope most Zoomers are as cool as Bug's cohort. Disclosure: I am friendquaintances with the author, who I like and admire perhaps to excess. Thanks: Edelweiss for the ARC

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aud

    This was such a short book, but it had so much in it. The pacing was perfect, too - it wasn't overfull, the words were chosen with care, and it was so atmospheric. And that atmosphere, for the most part, was melancholy mixed with the occasional shock or creepiness. I never felt afraid for Bug's safety (except the one scene where everything was flying around), but the ghost plot, especially the mirrors, really did it for me in a way that middle grade horror sometimes misses. This didn't feel like This was such a short book, but it had so much in it. The pacing was perfect, too - it wasn't overfull, the words were chosen with care, and it was so atmospheric. And that atmosphere, for the most part, was melancholy mixed with the occasional shock or creepiness. I never felt afraid for Bug's safety (except the one scene where everything was flying around), but the ghost plot, especially the mirrors, really did it for me in a way that middle grade horror sometimes misses. This didn't feel like a rehashing of an already-done story. This felt new, and very well done. The story focuses on Bug, but the characters around Bug are clearly doing their own things and going through their own lives, which I always appreciate. It makes the world feel more full and, to me, more authentic. I liked the examination of Bug and Moira's friendship, how those paths don't always run smooth, how sometimes we have to make an active choice about whether we're friends with people or not, and that being a good friend isn't always easy but is generally worth it in the end. As for endings, I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't. I'll just say that I loved it. I loved everything about it. I even love that I believe it, I really do think it's possible, depending on where someone lives, for things to shake out like that, and I think kids deserve to see endings like that in their books. It's early in the year for me to be saying this, because I haven't read THAT many of this year's releases yet, but I would like this book to win something come award season.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ryan // Vale

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The weeks stretch out in front of me, slow and hot, the finish line shimmering like a mirage. I don't know who I'll be when I cross over." This heart-breaking and beautiful middle grade novel follows 11 year old Bug as they prepare to start middle school, grieve for their beloved uncle, and try to figure out who they are. This story explores grief in a heartfelt and honest way. Specifically the grief for a death that was not sudden b I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The weeks stretch out in front of me, slow and hot, the finish line shimmering like a mirage. I don't know who I'll be when I cross over." This heart-breaking and beautiful middle grade novel follows 11 year old Bug as they prepare to start middle school, grieve for their beloved uncle, and try to figure out who they are. This story explores grief in a heartfelt and honest way. Specifically the grief for a death that was not sudden but expected and no less heart-breaking for it. It begins shortly after the death of Bug's uncle who was a parental figure in their life. We see how Bug deals with, and doesn't deal with their grief, throughout the beginning of the book. It discusses feeling like you don't fit in and aren't able to be a proper "girl" in a way that seems to come easily to most of your peers - a feeling that was very familiar to me as a transgender man. It also features a trans character who didn't always know which is a common narrative that doesn't apply to many of us. Bug doesn't always know but when they figure out who they are everything else makes sense in hindsight. Overall I felt this was an honest and heartful look at both grief and transgender identity that felt true to life and was beautifully written. I'd highly recommend it to children and adults alike. Content warnings: grief, death, terminal illness, mentions of bullying, unintentional misgendering

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will fee This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will feel uncomfortable in your own skin purely by reading his inner thoughts. You can see his destination before he can, and will be cheering and pushing him into the right direction. The death of beloved Uncle Roderick at the beginning of the book provides a secondary character that we don't actually get to meet. Roddy has been a father figure to Bug his whole life. This continues after his death as the ghost and haunting of his uncle helps Bug to his ultimate realization. I'll admit that, although an interesting way to help a character along, the ghosts and hauntings were not my cup of tea. I feel that this story would have been interesting, emotional and moving without the distraction of a paranormal element. It may be beneficial to getting middle grade readers to pick up this book and delve into it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Read in the

    This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will feel This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will feel uncomfortable in your own skin purely by reading his inner thoughts. You can see his destination before he can, and will be cheering and pushing him into the right direction. The death of beloved Uncle Roderick at the beginning of the book provides a secondary character that we don't actually get to meet. Roddy has been a father figure to Bug his whole life. This continues after his death as the ghost and haunting of his uncle helps Bug to his ultimate realization. I'll admit that, although an interesting way to help a character along, the ghosts and hauntings were not my cup of tea. I feel that this story would have been interesting, emotional and moving without the distraction of a paranormal element. It may be beneficial to getting middle grade readers to pick up this book and delve into it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hamilton

    It's a ghost story, or at least, it's a story full of ghosts. And also death and grieving and figuring out friendships as you get to middle school. Bug is missing her Uncle Roderick who died after an illness. He lived with her and her mother in the middle of nowhere Vermont. Bug doesn't have a lot of friends, and as anticipated, Bug's friend Mo has decided to go by Moira and start using make up and nail polish. That friendship doesn't go exactly the way you would think. Bug gets a chance to make It's a ghost story, or at least, it's a story full of ghosts. And also death and grieving and figuring out friendships as you get to middle school. Bug is missing her Uncle Roderick who died after an illness. He lived with her and her mother in the middle of nowhere Vermont. Bug doesn't have a lot of friends, and as anticipated, Bug's friend Mo has decided to go by Moira and start using make up and nail polish. That friendship doesn't go exactly the way you would think. Bug gets a chance to make a new friend at the library, bonding over ghosts and ghost books which is perfect. I loved how we got to hear about Bug's feelings as they are discovered and as Bug tries to come to grips with them. The ending didn't entirely surprise me, it gave the whole book a feeling of magical realism featuring ghosts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen Arendt

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. At first I thought it was a slightly scary ghost story. After all, some of those ghost activities had me worried for Bug! Then I thought it was more about Uncle Roderick being. Drag queen. Wrong again. This is the story of Bug’s uncle dying and still needing to tell Bug something-hence the haunting. But it is also about being true to yourself and finding, making, and keeping friends. And, yes, it’s a ghost story too. I very much enjoyed Bug’s t I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. At first I thought it was a slightly scary ghost story. After all, some of those ghost activities had me worried for Bug! Then I thought it was more about Uncle Roderick being. Drag queen. Wrong again. This is the story of Bug’s uncle dying and still needing to tell Bug something-hence the haunting. But it is also about being true to yourself and finding, making, and keeping friends. And, yes, it’s a ghost story too. I very much enjoyed Bug’s thought process as she figures out what she finally needs to understand. The story is appropriate, honest and innocent. I will be adding this to the school library. Thank you, Kyle for a very important story. .

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I wanted to LOVE this book. I'd read several reviews about it, and my favorite librarian Betsy Bird gave it a glowing write-up recently, and of course I want to support fellow librarian Kyle Lukoff on his MG book. But I didn't LOVE it. I liked it fine. I liked the way Kyle wove together the ghost story and Bug's story, and the lovely way Bug figured out things about who they were. But the writing was clunky to me. I didn't come upon any sentences that wowed me, sentences that made me highlight th I wanted to LOVE this book. I'd read several reviews about it, and my favorite librarian Betsy Bird gave it a glowing write-up recently, and of course I want to support fellow librarian Kyle Lukoff on his MG book. But I didn't LOVE it. I liked it fine. I liked the way Kyle wove together the ghost story and Bug's story, and the lovely way Bug figured out things about who they were. But the writing was clunky to me. I didn't come upon any sentences that wowed me, sentences that made me highlight them in my Kindle so I could go back and reread them. And that made me sad, really. I did highlight a couple of paragraphs where the sentences just didn't flow at all, but because I was reading an e-arc, they won't appear here. I just wanted to fall in love with the writing, and I didn't.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    Too Bright to See pulls you in from the very first chapters. I made the mistake of starting it before work and didn't want to put it down. It's the sort of story that begs you to move forward. Whether you read to find out what Uncle Roderick's ghost is trying to reveal to Bug, to see old friendships evolve and new friendships blossom, or to feel the emotions involved in discovering who you are as you embark upon middle school, this story will not disappoint. It has so much to say about humanity, Too Bright to See pulls you in from the very first chapters. I made the mistake of starting it before work and didn't want to put it down. It's the sort of story that begs you to move forward. Whether you read to find out what Uncle Roderick's ghost is trying to reveal to Bug, to see old friendships evolve and new friendships blossom, or to feel the emotions involved in discovering who you are as you embark upon middle school, this story will not disappoint. It has so much to say about humanity, becoming ourselves and acceptance. #LitReviewCrew

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa McDonald

    Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff. This is a scary yet wonderful ghost story of kid named Bug whose Uncle has recently passed away. Bug is struggling to deal with the passing of Uncle Roderick, upcoming middle school, and the increased ghostly activity in the house. Bug has some coming of age realizations towards the end. I can't really say more without giving away some plot points. Just read this book! Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff. This is a scary yet wonderful ghost story of kid named Bug whose Uncle has recently passed away. Bug is struggling to deal with the passing of Uncle Roderick, upcoming middle school, and the increased ghostly activity in the house. Bug has some coming of age realizations towards the end. I can't really say more without giving away some plot points. Just read this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    This was such a beautiful reading experience. I was expecting more of a creepy type of ghost story but instead it was more about grief after the main character's uncle passes away. This was masterfully combined with the main character working out he's transgender - both storylines are woven together perfectly. It was so refreshing and comforting to read a trans coming out story that just completely lacked transphobia and was so incredibly supportive. This was such a beautiful reading experience. I was expecting more of a creepy type of ghost story but instead it was more about grief after the main character's uncle passes away. This was masterfully combined with the main character working out he's transgender - both storylines are woven together perfectly. It was so refreshing and comforting to read a trans coming out story that just completely lacked transphobia and was so incredibly supportive.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ocean

    This is the story of Bug, an 11 year old who spends the summer being haunted as they try to figure out what their uncle's ghost is trying to tell them. Between the ghosts and the grief, is a story of identity and being yourself. With sometimes tense friendships and close family relationships, I adored this book so much. It starts off quite sad but has such a happy ending, and I couldn't have asked for anything better. This is the story of Bug, an 11 year old who spends the summer being haunted as they try to figure out what their uncle's ghost is trying to tell them. Between the ghosts and the grief, is a story of identity and being yourself. With sometimes tense friendships and close family relationships, I adored this book so much. It starts off quite sad but has such a happy ending, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I fell in love with Bug right from the start. This is a story about figuring out who you truly are, while navigating grief and loss. It is a ghost story as well which made it all the more intriguing! This will be a great addition to school libraries and start some necessary discussions among students & educators.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Eleven year old Bug's best friend Moira has decided they should spend the summer getting ready for middle school. That means practicing makeup applications, finding the right clothes, scanning yearbooks to find cute boys, learning about the clubs, and expanding Bug's social circle. Even though none of this is on the top of Bug's “to do” list, she participates in the sleepovers and chat fests with the various girls that will be in middle school with them. However, the most issue for Bug is findin Eleven year old Bug's best friend Moira has decided they should spend the summer getting ready for middle school. That means practicing makeup applications, finding the right clothes, scanning yearbooks to find cute boys, learning about the clubs, and expanding Bug's social circle. Even though none of this is on the top of Bug's “to do” list, she participates in the sleepovers and chat fests with the various girls that will be in middle school with them. However, the most issue for Bug is finding out the identity of the ghost who seems to be trying to communicate with her. With Uncle Roderick's death, the house, which is home to several friendly ghosts, seems to have a new resident. Small clues slowly unlock the identity of ghost is trying to relay to Bug. Well plotted story about learning who you are, and how to be comfortable in your own skin. In the end, the acceptance and understanding Bug receives from her/his peers is a nice change of pace from the usual bullying issue. Highly recommend. Thank you to Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, and netgalley for the arc.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Halbur

    For MS kiddos, making friends and figuring out who they want to be is hard. The same is true for Bug! This sweet, scary, sad and happy book is one I’ll hold in my 💜 for a long time. Headed to you thanks for sharing an ARC with #bookposse @shekels_library @penguinkids

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Heart achingly tender portrayal of grief and growing into oneself. This is a deeply approachable book and should be required reading for anyone raising, working with or encountering queer youth... so everyone.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book makes so much SENSE (as weird as it is to say that about a ghost story). It was a window for me, and I hope it will be a window and a mirror for my students. Especially appreciate the author’s note at the end, make sure you don’t miss it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Toby Murphy

    Such a heartwarming tale of both identity and grief. Lukoff does a great job of weaving the two together in a natural and authentic way. Only downside is it seemed rushed at times especially towards the end. Overall, a wonderful middle grade novel. Worthy of being taught!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joel Shoemaker

    Lovely!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    EARC from Edelweiss Plus Well done- I was hooked from the first chapter. Bug's summer before middle school brings lots of changes, but the most important to remember is being true to onself! EARC from Edelweiss Plus Well done- I was hooked from the first chapter. Bug's summer before middle school brings lots of changes, but the most important to remember is being true to onself!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenn of The Bookish Society

    All the stars for Bug and figuring out how to make your outside look how your inside feels.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenn of The Bookish Society

    All the stars to Bug and this story of figuring out how to make your outside look like your inside feels.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patti

    This is a wonderful book! I will be sharing it with my fifth graders every year!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sye Kasim

    Give this book to every child you know. A beautiful story about loss and discovering how to be true to yourself.

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