Be Ready for the Lightning

Don’t judge me if I admit that it might be the title I love most about this book: Be Ready for the Lightning.

The title holds so much promise, an idea, a metaphor, an exploration, an explosion. It is the promise of something. It is potential and hope and magic and danger and the possibility of realization. I saw the title in the book pile and it whispered through me. Be ready.

The book itself, written by Grace O’Connell is interesting too. It has it’s own spark, it’s own sizzle. But the title on its own is where I see a sliver of magic. Be ready.

We meet Veda, who grows up in idyllic Vancouver. Or it would be idyllic, if her brother, Conner, didn’t have a violent nature and a penchant for fist fights. He can’t control himself and from childhood onwards, he slips into fights with the same ease most people avoid them. Despite this, the two of them are close. They have three close childhood friends who grow with them into adulthood and whose lives are intertwined. One is not complete without the other.

But after one of Connor’s fights severely damages Veda’s ear, she runs away to New York. There, she steps onto a bus and into a life stranger than she could have imagined, after the bus is taken hostage and Veda witnesses people killed right in front of her.

From that point, told in flashbacks and flash forwards, the book vibrates with surrealism, and an otherworldliness, even if it is firmly rooted in a current place and time.

It’s beautiful, sad, implausible and not impossible.

Grace O’Connell was at Events 67 (The Literary Cabaret) and 84 (Getting a Grip) at the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival.

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