Set in the urban slice of fictional East Bridge, Bright Lights, Dark Nights is a charismatic tale of two teens wrapped up in the innocence of first love while reluctantly fighting racial tensions and parental overprotection.
High school senior Walter Wilcox is an average kid, growing up in the suburbs until his parents divorce and he moves with his police officer father to a part of the city known as the Basement. When his friend Jason Mills invites him over for dinner, Walter meets Naomi, Jason’s awkward and adorable sister. Walter feels a thump in his chest that he can’t easily ignore, but there are a number of problems: Walter is white and Naomi is black; they live in a city suffering from the adverse effects of gentrification; and Walter’s father is currently under public scrutiny and internal review for being accused of racially profiling a teen thief—and all these complexities are further exacerbated by the Internet.
Tackling a number of social, racial and political issues—all within the microcosm of a young, inward-facing relationship—author and artist Stephen Emond has his thumb on the pulse of contemporary young adult life, showing how the intersection of race and love has the power to challenge and change the physical and digital landscapes of American cities.
Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.