Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bitter Sun” as Want to Read:
Bitter Sun
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bitter Sun

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  40 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"Stand by Me" meets "True Detective" in this stunningly written tale of the darkness at the heart of a small mid-Western town and the four kids who uncover it. In the heatwave summer of 1971, four kids find a body by a lake and set out to solve a murder, but they dig too deep and ask too many questions. Larson is a town reeling in the wake of the Vietnam draft, where the u ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by The Borough Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bitter Sun, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bitter Sun

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Beth Lewis writes a superb emotionally heartbreaking coming of age story depicting a ravaging picture of a small midwestern American town. Larson is struggling economically, plagued by its political intrigue and corruption, amidst the background of the Vietnam draft with the return of damaged soldiers, hard hit by ruined harvests as the unrelenting heat takes it toll, suffering from rising unemployment and suicide, beset by rumours and rampant paranoia as violence simmers. It provides the perfec ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No matter the genre of fiction, small town America always seems to be portrayed as desperately, determinedly normal on the surface, while steered by unseen currents in the form of grasping, morally vacant men bent on fulfilling their own desires at any cost. Here, the discovery of a body is the first wave in a tide that engulfs the whole town, yet when the water recedes, it only highlights the embedded filth rather than washing it clean. It has a punch like My Absolute Darling or The Summer that ...more
Liz Barnsley
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has broken me so I can't review it now.

Nearer publication I will but I'll probably still be sobbing slightly. Best book I've read this year by a clear mile. Easily in contention for my no 1 spot in December and I'll actually be VERY surprised if anything beats it.

I'm going to lie down now and have another good cry. Beautiful writing. Heart wrenching stuff.

Highly Recommended.
Roman Clodia
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As long as the apple is shiny and red, it doesn't matter if it's rotten.

There's almost a sub-genre of books set in a claustrophobic small town where the surface quiet hides a seething mix of secrets and lies culminating in murder - this is one of the better ones. Lewis can write: her prose is unflashy but acute, and there's an undertow of emotion that is barely restrained both in John, the narrator, and the novel itself.

The four protagonists are adolescents 13-15 and in lots of ways this is as m
Jun 23, 2018 is currently reading it
Just realized this is the author of The Wolf Road which I read and liked. Looking forward to this one!
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am very excited about this book! Wolf Road was amazing!!
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘I killed her’

Bitter Sun is a novel that begins in a heatwave of 1971 and ends in summer 1973. It takes place in the rural town of Larson and the Vietnam war and its impact on small rural communities sets the backdrop for the novel.

The novel follows brother and sister John and Jenny and their childhood friends Gloria and Rudy. They discover the body of a female murder victim, which the town is quick to hush up! Too quick for John and Jenny’s liking and they set out to unmask the killer. John n
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set over 3 long hot summer from 1971 in a small American town this book is so utterly addictive I could not put it down.
Told from young 13 yr old Johnny Royal's view as the sanctuary of his younger sister and two best friends' clubhouse becomes the area where a girls body is found by the children.
Like a car crash in slow motion you know something is bad in the town, each year sees the children's home life become worse. Indeed his sister Jenny is under the impression their mother will kill her
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was so impressed with Beth's debut 'The Wolf Road' that I couldn't wait to read her next book. And 'Bitter Sun' does not disappoint one iota. Another stark coming-of-age which pits 13 year old Johnny Royal and his friends into the wilderness of a small mid-Western town's politics and corruption from which no-one can emerge a winner.

Happily playing in their secluded cubby, The Roost, down by Big Lake, John and his sister Jenny and best friends, Gloria and Rudy, discover the body of a young gir
This was a goodreads giveaway. Really enjoyed this book. I did not realise Beth Lewis had written Wolf Road which has been on my to read list for some time. The atmosphere and characters were so well written. The feeling of helplessness and dread built like the storm clouds over the three summers. We were teased by the opening and knew something dreadful was going to happen but to who and when. The small town mentality and corruption felt all too real. The only slight criticism I had with the wr ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Small-town America in the 1970's is the setting for this novel. The four main characters are young teenagers: Johnny Royal who narrates the story, his younger sister Jenny, and their two friends rich, privileged Gloria and boy-from-bad-family Rudy. Johnny and Jenny's simgle-parent mother is an alocoholic, often violent, especially towards Jenny. Gloria never seems to see her parents and has been more or less raised by the family help, and as for Rudy, his father is a mean, foul-mouthed man, head ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
There's a simmering heat haze which surrounds this book, set in the harsh dustbowl farming communities of mid Western USA during one long hot summer heatwave in the early 1970s as Vietnam is headline news and the already fragile rural economy crumbles.

Told from the aspect of 4 youngsters trying to solve a mystery, following their discovery of a womans body. This is no famous five story there's a definite Stephen King feel to the storyline which is dark and grim and hostile.

There's nothing light
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I am finding this book very hard going. It’s not compelling me to read it. I gave up after a few chapters but I am now trying again. It seems to take an age to get going with the story and I am thinking it is perhaps more for the American market than for the uk.
I will continue to slowly battle on and if I get further I will review again.
Louise Mullins
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
An intelligently written, beautifully impactful character-driven novel from the viewpoint of a child. I felt the middle sagged and did not hold my attention, but the final part ratcheted up a gear and from then on I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
Nadia Ghanem
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Knowing the truth has weighty consequences for the four protagonists of Bitter Sun, born and raised in a close-knit community in mid-West America where silence and complicity are the bread of everyday life.

The crime around which the novel is build functions like a boomerang: four children investigate a crime that no one cares about, and end up being the hunted.

Bitter Sun is narrated by John who recounts how in the summer of 1971, he, his sister and their two best friends found the body of a mu
rated it it was amazing
Mar 05, 2018
Vojta Peterka
rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Jul 13, 2018
Chris Howland
rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2018
rated it it was ok
May 12, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2018
rated it really liked it
May 14, 2018
marilyn mumford
rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2018
Janis Jones
rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2018
rated it it was ok
Apr 21, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jul 21, 2018
rated it it was ok
Jun 17, 2018
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Commissioning Editor at a leading London publisher. Her debut novel, The Wolf Road, was shortlisted ...more
More about Beth Lewis
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »