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Secret Sunshine Project - Benjamin Dean

The blurb:

Bea’s family are happy. Like, really happy. Like, kind of gross but also cute happy. So when they visit London Pride together and have the ultimate day out, Bea doesn’t think her family could possibly get any happier. But a year later, a grey cloud is following Bea’s family around. Dad has passed away, and without him around they have no choice but to pack their bags and move to the countryside to live with Gran.
With Bea’s big sister, Riley, taking the news hard, Bea will do anything to cheer her up. So with the help of new friends, The Secret Sunshine Project is formed – Bea’s plan to bring Pride to the countryside and a smile back to Riley’s face. There’s just one teeny tiny problem – the village mayor. A grumpy old woman who’s on a mission to rain on Bea’s parade . . .

I'm thrilled to have been asked to be part of the blogtour for Benjamin's brilliant book - a triumph of a tale looking at overcoming obstacles, acceptance, and bravery in the face of bullying!

Dahl's 'Matilda' is one of my favourite books of all time, and I hope Benjamin doesn't mind me seeing echoes of it here - a young female main character challenging an older bully in spite of warnings from adults who were victims too, and those around her. Brave, bright and brilliant, Bea (and her granny!) are two absolute heroes of characters, and will raise a smile for a long time after reading.

As part of the blogtour, I am very pleased to be able to share this piece from the author, Benjamin Dean (@NotAgainBen on Twitter)

Finding My Sunshine

I want to start by being brutally honest – I really, really struggled to write The Secret Sunshine Project. Sorry to start with something so miserable, but I think it’s good to highlight when things aren’t easy! I knew I’d feel a little more pressure writing Book Two, but I was floored by my own insecurities and I was absolutely convinced that writing my first book had been nothing but a fluke.

As always seems to be the case when I start something new, I had the broad concept nailed down (a small village experiences their first Pride event) but not much else. I struggled for MONTHS trying to make a story happen but nothing seemed to fit. Where my first book had flowed pretty easily, this one was taking a lot more work to get down.

And then Bea walked into the picture. Similar to Archie in my first book, I knew straight away that Bea was the person to lead the story. A smart, bubbly main character who just wants to make everybody around her happy. It reminded me of the Ben I’d once been when I was growing up, always wanting to impress and do the right thing, even if it meant hiding my own fears and worries.

Through Bea, I was able to explore a story about loss, but also about finding sunshine in dark places, being proud of who you are, using your voice to speak up, and the importance of family in all its forms. I was able to write a story that I might’ve needed when I was growing up, and one that I’m immensely proud of now. Oh, and I was also able to bring back one of my favourite drag queen characters from my last book to tie it all together. What more could I ask for?

Thank you so much to Benjamin for this - it's great to see such insight into the thoughts behind this fab book. check out other posts on the blogtour at the following stops:

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a copy of this fab book with me for review, and to Kirsten for having me on the blogtour.

Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadlot on Twitter and Instagram) April 1st, 2022.

All opinions my own.

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