The Bright Forever
The Bright Forever
Three Rivers Press (CA), Paperback, 9780307209863, 285pp.
Publication Date: April 4, 2006
On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books.
This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever. Keeping fact, speculation, and contradiction playing off one another as the details unfold, author Lee Martin creates a fast-paced story that is as gripping as it is richly human. His beautiful, clear-eyed prose builds to an extremely nuanced portrayal of the complicated give and take among people struggling to maintain their humanity in the shadow of a loss.
Reminiscent of books such as The Little Friend and The Lovely Bones, but most memorable for its own perceptions and power, The Bright Forever is a compelling and emotional tale about the human need to know even the hardest truth.
A Featured Alternate of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club
Also available as a Books on Tape AudioBook and an eBook
Lee was born in southeastern Illinois, where his father farmed eighty acres in Lawrence County s Lukin Township. The gravel road that went past the lane to the Martin home, was the road that divided Lawrence County from Richland County, and Lee was amazed as a young boy by the fact that simply walking across the road could move him from one county to the next. In 1963, when he was eight, those gravel roads that ran straight and formed right angles when they intersected moved him to the hard roads first the blacktop into Sumner, and then U.S. Route 50 and Illinois Route 49 heading north to the family s new home during the school year in Oak Forest, a southern suburb of Chicago, where his mother had accepted an offer to teach third grade for Arbor Park School District #145. Just like that, the familiarity of the two-room Lukin School, the small Berryville Church of Christ, and the shops and cafes of Sumner, was replaced by the strangeness of urban living.
“With what consummate skill Lee Martin conjures up a small town in the grip of tragedy and how deftly he explores the way in which a casual remark, a brief kiss, a white lie can have the most terrible consequences. The Bright Forever is a remarkable and almost unbearably suspenseful novel.” —Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona and Eva Moves the Furniture
“Lee Martin’s The Bright Forever goes deep into the mystery of being alive on this earth. Written in the clearest prose, working back and forth over its complex story, and told in the dark, desperate, vivid voices of its various speakers, it holds you spellbound to the end, to its final, sad revelations.” —Kent Haruf, author of Eventide and Plainsong
“Like Winesburg, Ohio, The Bright Forever captures, in alternating voices, the individual acts of desperation that lead to a community’s sorrow. And, like Sherwood Anderson, Lee Martin is not happy to let guilt reside singularly or simply. This is a morally complex quilt, a page-turner that also insists on the reader’s participation in moral contemplation.” —Antonya Nelson, author of Female Trouble and Talking in Bed
“I read The Bright Forever in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. Part Mystic River, part Winesburg, Ohio, this harrowing and beautiful book is one of the most powerful novels I’ve read in years and heralds the breakout of a remarkable talent.” —Bret Lott, author of A Song I Knew by Heart and Jewel
“The Bright Forever will get under your skin with its exquisite psychology and fine-tuned suspense. Lee Martin has created a world of aching beauty and terrible loss.” —Jean Thompson, author of City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder
“The Bright Forever is ravishing. . . . Lee Martin’s characters, dear readers, are us—riven and bedeviled, our souls gone grainy and rank, our hearts busted and beating heavily for love. We have Martin to thank for having the moral courage—yes, an old-fashioned but rare virtue—to tell it to us plain.” —Lee K. Abbott, author of Living After Midnight