Book Review: Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Rise to the Sun

Author: Leah Johnson

Publication Date: 06 July 2021

Genre: YA – Contemporary Romance

Pages: 336

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.

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, and 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.

Leah Johnson never fails to write incredible characters. I’m just going to start with that. After absolutely loving You Should See Me in a Crown, I was a bit apprehensive about Rise to the Sun because of my own expectations. Completely unwarranted because Johnson absolutely delivered.

So I will preface this by saying that I am not someone who appreciates music nor live music events, but the magic that Johnson created in this story had me yearning to be alongside Olivia and Toni at the Farmland Music Festival in GA.

As far as characters go, Olivia is our bisexual disaster. She lives life hard and fast and isn’t afraid to give her heart away. On the other hand, there’s Toni. She’s a musical prodigy thanks to her dad’s training, but she’s terrified to fall in love after losing the person she loved the most.

Also, I love that both Olivia and Toni were from Indiana because there were so many references to places I knew such as the fun night life in Broad Ripple and all that is Indiana University in Bloomington (where I got my PhD).

Don’t go into this story thinking that it’s a straightforward romance with a clear cut path. This story is mess. These girls are messy and so are their feelings. They feel deeply and learn the consequences of their feelings and actions, and that’s something that more people need to be given the grace to do…especially Black women.

Thank you to Scholastic Press for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Get your copy of Rise to the Sun below:

Amazon I Barnes & Noble I Bookshop I Book Depository I LibroFM

Photo credit: Reece T. Williams
Photo credit: Reece T. Williams

Leah Johnson is an eternal midwesterner and author of award-winning books for children and young adults. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown, was a Stonewall Honor Book, the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and named a best book of the year by Amazon, Kirkus, Marie Claire, Publishers Weekly, and New York Public Library. Leah’s essays and cultural criticism can be found in Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan among others. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.

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