At under 200 pages, Kyle Lukoff’s first middle grade novel, Too Bright to See, packs quite the punch. Bug’s family home has always been haunted. But after Uncle Roderick passes away, his ghost begins to haunt Bug in order to share an important lesson.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on and/or purchase from some links, I make a portion of the sale. This helps keep Bitch Bookshelf running.

Find out more about how I review books here.

The summary, from Amazon:

A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity

“A gentle, glowing wonder, full of love and understanding.” –The New York Times Book Review

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.

Buy Too Bright to See here.

Wow, what an emotional read. I can’t really delve into what made Too Bright to See so impactful without giving away the plot, though the Amazon blurb goes into more detail than the book jacket did. Regardless, I’ll share some of my favorite quotes:

“I’ll be minding my own business, in the bathroom or kitchen or whatever, and catch a glimpse of something in the mirror that isn’t me. Not a blood-dripping evil face, or anything obviously supernatural. Just a face that isn’t quite mine. Almost mine. But different enough that it gives me a shock every time.”
“Girls in books always seem more real than real life, and making believe that I’m in a story keeps my mind off of what I really am, which isn’t much.”
“I know I’m too old for make-believe, but no one has to know. I could play these quiet games for the rest of my life, be always in a story and never really here.”
Bug’s imagination blew me away. I found it so relatable even though my situation for playing pretend so long was much different than Bug’s. However, we both dealt with grief similarly as children. I also enjoyed the friendships and family relationships in this book. Bug’s mother, uncle, and friends – including new ones – are very supportive, even if they don’t always get along perfectly.
All in all, Too Bright to See is an amazing book and a clear 5 star read for me. I think it’s one adults and children alike can enjoy.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Too Bright to SeeToo Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a lovely story about grief, making friends, and coming into yourself.

View all my reviews

Book Club Questions

1. Why does Bug like playing pretend so much?
2. Was the house really haunted before? Do you think Uncle Roderick was haunting the house too?
3. What do Bug’s dreams mean?
4. How are Bug’s loved ones and those at school supportive?
5. Why do you think Uncle Roderick truly understood and saw Bug so well? Would Bug have learned the lesson Uncle Roderick’s ghost shared had he stayed behind to haunt the house?