New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett has written her most gripping and poignant tale yet. Provocatively heart-breaking, audaciously irreverent and romantically fulfilling, The Hard Truth About Sunshine exposes just how very thin the line is between a full life and an empty existence.
An angry, bitter amputee.
An optimist losing her eyesight.
A dying kid.
A suicidal thief.
Four people with nothing in common but their destination.
Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.
What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?
He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.
They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love.
And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.
The hard truth about sunshine…
Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.
Amazon/Goodreads Rating: 5/5
In Patti's Imagination Rating: 10/10
If you are a Sawyer Bennett fan, you will find this book is very different than what she typically writes but no less gripping as it pulls you in ever deeper from start to finish. It is not a light read and deals with some difficult subjects. While there is some romance in the story, that is not what the book is about. It is about the thin line between a full life and an empty existence. It will make you question your choices, too.
Christopher Barlow will be someone you will be angry with and yet understand his complexity. He is not your normal male lead of a book and this book is told completely in his point of view making it interesting to see inside this infuriating misguided soul. He is given a choice to either attend group therapy or go to prison, so therapy it is. He has such a hatred for life at times you really will want to reach into the kindle and strangle him. Can Christopher's hatred for everyone and everything be curbed for the sake of the group?
The group is small, only the four of them and they have nothing in common. What could these miss match bunch learn from each other ? What could Christopher, a wounded vet who lost so much and has a boulder size chip on his shoulder, have in common with a blind person, a victim of abuse and a terminal cancer patient ? As part of the bucket list of the one with cancer, the group embarks on a road trip across the country to see the Pacific Ocean in the northwest. This trip is not what you would expect as they encounter thrilling adventures, sad losses and love, but the greatest lesson of all is learning the hard truth about Sunshine.
“I’ve thought a lot about her words, and her meaning is quite simple. It’s nothing more than finding the good in a situation and appreciating it with such passion that it makes up for the loss of other things. It’s redirecting.” Christopher
This book will take you on a journey of emotions while this group of four journey on their road trip. The author does a fabulous job describing the scenery, showing the complex characters and developing the storyline you will feel like you are a part of this journey - experiencing what they are experiencing.
“You have to have faith. You have to believe in Heaven. You have to know in your soul it’s a place where regrets don’t matter because Jesus died for our sins and eternal happiness is yours for the taking. With faith, you should have no fear of what happens after.” Connor
Each of these characters have something that the others in the group can learn from. They spent one night a week for several weeks in a small room sharing their thoughts, but still not knowing anything about each other and learn from each other, but they learn so much on their journey. This was a book that needed to be told and I love the story behind how it came about. The author took the chance with writing something very different and did an over the top excellent job. As difficult of a book as this was, it was a refreshing read. It is a must read - So compelling and so bitter sweet.
“I think back to when I questioned Jillian about her strength and courage while facing impending blindness and how she gave me the hard truth about Sunshine. She said she wouldn’t miss it when she could no longer see it, because it wasn’t going anywhere. It would always be there for her to feel in other ways. The only thing that would change was her ability to perceive it in a certain way and she said she’d accommodate that.” Christopher
Will this journey help them all to cope with their losses and let the sunshine be perceived in their lives again?
ExcerptJillian holds my gaze for a moment, her eyes drilling into mine before she gently tugs on the material of my jeans near the shin rod of my prosthetic. “What happened to you?” She doesn’t look away. Not down at the fire, not down to my legs. She stares right at me. Although my gut is turning slightly at the thought of telling her what she asked, I forge straight ahead. For the first time, I tell someone who is not medical personnel or a shrink my story. “I was driving a military Humvee and the right front tire ran over a roadside bomb,” I say, and Jillian makes a sound of distress low her in throat as her eyes turn sad. “It completely obliterated my buddy sitting in the passenger seat.” To my surprise, Jillian scoots over closer to me and lays her head on my shoulder. She pushes her hand in between my ribs and my arm, curling her fingers over my bicep. It’s a show of support. Solidarity. That she’s settled in for the long haul of this story, and she wants to hear it all. “It didn’t blow my leg off,” I tell her, and I can feel her body jerk slightly in surprise. Her fingers squeeze my bicep. “The fingers yes, the leg no. It just shattered and shredded it badly, but the doctors tried hard to save it.” “Obviously, they couldn’t,” she whispers the obvious. “They tried for three months,” I tell her, reaching down to grab my phone laying near my left hip. Jillian lifts her head up, watching as I pull up my pictures. I scroll backward, but it doesn’t take long to find what I’m looking for because I don’t take a lot of photos. I hold the phone out so she can see. “This was taken about a month after my injury.” Jillian makes a strangled sound as she looks at the photo of me in bed. My eyes are half open because I was bombed out on so many heavy-duty pain medications, and I have a grimace on my face. I vaguely remember this picture being taken, and I think it may have been by my brother, Hank, when he came to visit once during that first month. He came a few more times after that, and then he didn’t. Jillian’s eyes roam over the photo. My leg is encased in the external fixator with several rods leading from the outside of the cage right into my skin, where it’s drilled through and into the bone to hold the pieces together. The wounds on my leg are all open to the air, red and some of them dripping with puss and lined with blisters. I’ve got IVs in both arms and a PICC line in the right side of my neck to deliver the hordes of antibiotics and pain meds I needed to keep me alive and functioning. I took the maximum dosages they allowed me, preferring to try to be oblivious to what was happening. Yet, the pain was so great it just couldn’t be fully erased. Jillian turns her head to look at me, and I lay the phone back down. “How long were you like that?” “Three months. But they couldn’t get ahead of the infections, which were delaying the bones from knitting. I was in so much pain that I wanted them to amputate.” “You had to make that decision?” she whispers. I nod. “Yup. I mean… the doctors were at the point they felt it was the right way to go, although they were willing to keep trying if I wanted. But I wanted it gone. I was tired of being in the hospital and being in so much pain. I just wanted it gone.” “Do you regret that decision?” she asks me bluntly, but with that still-sweet melody her voice makes. The question doesn’t bother me, because even her hard questions sound lovely. “Yes,” I tell her without any shame. “I wonder what would have happened if I held on just a little bit longer. Not long after the leg came off, the pain receded and I became more lucid. Once I’d forgotten how bad the infections smelled, I regretted it.” “Three months is an awful long time to be in pain like that,” she points out the obvious. I shrug. “And the rest of my life is a long time to wonder ‘what if.’”
About the Author
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions. A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone. Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.
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