James Frey uses compelling and contrasting characters in his book Bright Shiny Morning, allowing readers to really see the different conceptions people have of this populous city. This book is fictional, but Frey adds in pages of facts throughout explaining highways, or the military of L.A. He does this so the reader can have a better understanding and really grip all the aspects of this ample city. Every few pages he also adds facts on how this city grew from a cipher to almost four million people. Frey leads us through the journey of five people, some searching for better lives, while some just want to find themselves and reach social equilibrium. We see the growth of these characters while simultaneously seeing the growth of Los Angeles. He emphasizes aspects of this muddled city all throughout the book. Frey writes four mini stories and alternates them throughout the book, with the characters Maddie and Dylan, Old Man Joe, Esperanza, and Amberton. He keeps these characters very engrossing while still realistic.
Frey reaches into the lives of diversified people, from the mistreated immigrant, to the opulent, to the beggared, to the runaway teenagers. Esperanza is an insecure Mexican Immigrant who is living the cliche life many Americans give. Amberton is a wealthy man who lives a dual life, one public, one private, while hiding his true sexuality. Old man Joe is one of the many homeless people occupying the streets of Los Angeles, and his one true love and key to happiness is Chablus. Lastly, you have Maddie and Dylan, the adolescent infatuated couple who ran away from their abusive parents to Los Angeles in hopes for betterment.
This book can confuse readers and is something that you may have to read twice, and really analyze since there are casual characters and random facts spread throughout the book. With Frey’s controversial past with his book A Million Little Pieces, many readers have a biased and stubborn view on this writer. I urge readers to look past this unfortunate situation and read this well written and intriguing book about the chaotic but alluring city of Los Angeles.
Word Count: 350