Title: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors
Author: Michele Young-Stone
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Publisher: Shaye Arehaart Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Becca Burke is a young woman who has been struck multiple times by lightning, though her parents don’t believe her. Buckley R. Pitank has also been affected by a strike, when lightning kills someone dear to him. Devastated by his experience, Buckley writes a handbook for lightning strike survivors, which Becca buys and reads. Lightning changes the lives of both these individuals, eventually bringing them together to help them understand their separate lives.
Michele Young-Stone’s debut novel defies any sort of plot summary. While the book is seems to be about lightning strikes on the surface, that doesn’t even come close to describing its depth. There are so many storylines that there is no way to really encompass everything that is going on in this book with just a short paragraph.
There are a lot of characters in The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, though Buckley and Becca the novel’s core. While I did think both were expertly developed, Buckley was the character I really appreciated. He experienced so much hardship at such a young age. I hated that he felt like he had to punish himself because he thought bad things would happen if he was happy. It shows how difficult his life was and what traumatic experiences can do to a young boy. I loved watching him grow up, develop into his own person, and overcome the setbacks he had as a child.
The Handbook for Lightning Survivors starts out slow, and it takes some time for the breadth and depth of the story to develop. As a result, readers might lose interest in the story before the narrative really evolves fully. Additionally, the sheer number of characters is a bit overwhelming. While very well-written, it makes the book seem as if it’s jumping all over the place.
Despite these minor quibbles, I enjoyed The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. Michele Young-Stone is an incredible writer, and the book is a joy to read as a result of her beautiful prose. Additionally, excerpts from Buckley’s handbook are interspersed between chapters, giving the reader interesting tips on how to avoid be struck by lightning and deal with those who have. As Young-Stone herself is a lightning strike survivor, it gives the book an added depth and really piques the reader’s interest.