Rating:

Reviewed by Leigh Adamkiewicz

Hundreds of people are struck by lightning every year, but only 10% of them die from their injuries. In The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors Becca Burke and Buckley Pitank are part of the lucky 90%. Both were struck when they were very young. Both their lives were altered in strange and subtle ways by the experience. They follow similar, and eventually connected, paths that merge together over several stormy nights on the coasts of North Carolina.

But the real carnage in this excellent novel is shown in the day-to-day lives of our two survivors, rather than the lightning strikes themselves. The plot is a precisely woven battle of ordinary and extraordinary pain that is deeply poetic and masterfully written. There are dozens of major and minor supporting characters weaving in and out of Buckley and Becca’s lives. Each one feels like a living person with good and bad in them. The lives they live fluctuate between an artist in New York and a North Carolina fisherman, but every story of every life feels real.

That real feeling is what makes this a story you can’t put down. Reversals happen regularly, and there’s no predefined goal for any of the characters… least of all, our two leads. There are no guarantees of anything. The dammed are not equally punished, and the righteous are not always given their rewards. But like Becca and Buckley’s inevitable meeting, there is some strange, greater plan at work. And the clips from Buckley’s book – which gives the novel its title – take us through each small side story and deftly tie it into the workings of that greater plan.

And though the climax may come through inclement weather, it’s a realization rather than an event that ties everything together. There is a great deal of strength in the deepest connections we make with our fellow human beings. Even if those connections are made by something as random as a bolt of lighting.

Rating: 4/5

Leigh is a fearless writer who never met a genre, subject, or format she didn’t like. She has written professionally for the past six years and enjoys biking, exploring odd corners of Northeast Ohio, and discovering those good books she hasn’t read yet.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Broadway. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.