Reading by Lightning

By Joan Thomas
(Goose Lane Editions, Paperback, 9780864925121, 385pp.)

Publication Date: September 2008

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Description
Lily Piper and her family live in an ephemeral world, due to collapse any moment when the Lord comes to pluck His faithful from the drought-ravaged Prairie. Lily tries to be ready, but she is restless, not the daughter she feels her mother wants. As she tries to invent herself, she conjures, too, an imagined past for her beloved father in an effort to understand him and the demons he battles. In her teens, Lily is sent to England to care for her Grandmother and further explores the delicious question of who she might become. She falls in love with her adopted cousin, learns to experience life in all its ambiguity, and waits with the rest of England for World War II to start -- until the news she has been dreading arrives on the doorstep, and she is called home to face a future she thought she had escaped. Reading by Lightning is a Bildungsroman of great wit and depth. Thomas's prose is wry and intimate, elegant and devastatingly funny. Her engrossing story of Lily Piper tells us something of how we can make sense of a future when the future is something we can hardly imagine.

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