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Absolute Brightness

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


From Academy Award-winning writer, actor, and activist in the LGBTQ community comes a groundbreaking story about love, prejudice, and being yourself.

“This complex, illuminating and beautiful book reminds us we have to look for the light even in the darkest corners.” —Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Phoebe’s life in Neptune, New Jersey, is somewhat unremarkable. She helps her mom out with her hair salon, she goes to school, and she envies her perfect older sister. But everything changes when Leonard arrives.

Leonard is an orphan, a cousin who Phoebe never knew she had. When he comes to live with Phoebe’s family, he upsets the delicate balance of their lives. He’s gay and confident about who he is. He inspires the people around him. He sees people not as they are, but as they hope to be.

One day, Leonard goes missing. Phoebe, her family, and her community fight to understand what happened, and to make sense of why someone might want to extinguish the beautiful absolute brightness that was Leonard Pelkey.

This novel by James Lecesne, the cofounder of The Trevor Project, inspired the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway show The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.

A William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist

“This book will encourage you to be exactly who you are.” —Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 21, 2008 – Lecesne, the Academy Award winning writer of the film short Trevor, turns out a stunner of a first novel, using a deliberately leisurely pace to develop a careful view of a smalltown New Jersey community and then shattering it. Phoebe, the ruminative 15-year-old narrator, is appalled when the orphaned son of her uncle's ex-girlfriend moves in with her fatherless family: it's not just that 13-year-old Leonard shows up in pink-and-green plaid capris, a midriff-baring T-shirt, platform sandals and pierced ears I like different. I am different, Phoebe explains to readers but something about him seemed to invite ridicule. Like he was saying, go on, I dare you, say something. Soon Leonard wins over Phoebe's mother, who operates a hair salon, and her clients, as he prescribes exactly what they need to release their inner beauty. But before these characters harden into types, the mood blackens, not unexpectedly but nevertheless horrifyingly. Lecesne is an artist with small details, using them liberally both to heighten his characters' world and to plant material whose significance emerges only much later. A somewhat didactic ending does not dim this book's pleasures nor flatten its complexities; readers are still left to wrangle with ambiguities and unmeasured depths. Ages 12-up.
Absolute Brightness
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Level: Grades 8-13
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction
  • Published: May 31, 2016
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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