The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

Michele Young-Stone, Author . Crown/Shaye Areheart $24 (372p) ISBN 978-0-307-46447-7

Damaged people inhabit this debut novel: people who have been struck by lightning as well as those who have lost loved ones from death, divorce, drinking, or duplicity. Young-Stone tells parallel stories that hurdle storm after storm headlong into one another. One follows the bullied Buckley R. Pitank, who watches as his beloved mother's life is buffeted by her mean-spirited mother and a fraud of an evangelical preacher. Just when she escapes and finds love, and Buckley sees the possibility of happiness, she is fatally struck by lightning. The other is the story of Becca Burke, a lightning strike survivor whose drunk mother and philandering father have a hard time believing that she has been repeatedly hit by lightning. As Buckley and Becca grow up, Buckley writes The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors , excerpts of which begin each chapter, and Becca becomes a painter. What happens when they do finally meet is inevitable. Young-Stone is a very fine writer who has created a host of endearing losers—young, old, literate, and simple, all full of longing. What she does best is portray the incredulousness of the unlucky. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 12/07/2009
Release date: 04/01/2010
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