The Brightest Sun

From a brand new literary talent comes an affecting story set in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In beautiful, evocative prose, Adrienne Benson brings to life the striking Kenyan terrain as three very different women grapple with motherhood, recalibrate their identities, and confront unforeseen tragedies and triumphs. These women's lives intertwine in unexpected ways. As they face their own challenges and heartbreaks, they find strength traversing the arid landscapes of tenuous human connection. With gripping poignancy, The Brightest Sunexplores the heartbreak of loss, the struggle to find a sense of belonging, and the surprising ways we find our family and home.

Reader Reviews for The Brightest Sun

Early Praise for The Brightest Sun




"This expansive debut from Benson follows the lives of five women over two generations that interconnect in extraordinary circumstances… Benson’s depiction of motherhood across circumstances will please readers interested in stories about forging homes in other cultures.” —Publishers Weekly


"This novel transported me from my safe little house in Iowa to a place where lions and hyenas prowl, where blood soaks into the parched earth and where a seedling can consume a living tree and become its own hollow tree with space enough for a grown woman to crawl into.  The book throbs with descriptions of the natural world that are so beautifully wrought that their thematic significance seems essential and, at some extra-sensory level, magical.  And yet what's most exciting about this story is how, in the midst of so much beauty and wildness and violence—at the dark and quiet center of it, you might say—Benson illuminates human emotion and psychology with such accuracy that you are brought home again, almost dizzily, to your own recognizable heart.  That is beautiful storytelling, and this is a beautiful novel." —Tim Johnston, author of New York Times bestselling Descent.


"An enchanting and deeply moving story, The Brightest Sun is a lovely portrait of three women’s lives redolent with beautiful evocations of the African landscape and light. A page-turner of a tale and a stirring and finally redemptive story of mothers and daughters.” —Sara Mansfield Taber, author of Born Under an Assumed Name and Dusk on the Campo


"In her debut novel, Adrienne Benson masterfully braids the lives, desires, and fears of three memorable women. Their loneliness and longing, their bravery and resilience are illuminated—with empathy and honesty—against the vivid landscapes of Kenya and Liberia. This clear-eyed novel is both heartbreaking and hopeful."—Joanna Luloff, author of The Beach at Galle Road


“This engrossing narrative offers the experience of engaging and empathizing with cultural differences deeper than unfamiliar customs.  It can transport you to Kenya and present the doors of kinship.” Mary Catherine Bateson, Cultural Anthropologist and author of Composing a Life and Peripheral Visions: Learning along the Way.


"Adrienne Benson's characters are complicated people, damaged by circumstances past and present; her exploration of what it takes for their wounds to heal is aglow with empathy and insight."  Susi Wyss, Author of The Civilized World