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The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors By Michele Young-Stone - Excerpt

The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors By Michele Young-Stone - Excerpt

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3.83

(65)
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The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors By Michele Young-Stone

Now an art student in New York City, Becca Burke is a gifted but tortured painter who strives to recapture the intensity of her lightning-strike memories on canvas. On the night of her first gallery opening, a stranger appears and is captivated by her art. Who is this odd young man with whom she shares a mysterious connection?

When Buckley and Becca finally meet, neither is prepared for the charge of emotions—or for the perilous event that will bring them even closer to one another, and to the families they’ve been running from for as long as they can remember.

Crackling with atmosphere and eccentric characters, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors explores the magic of nature and the power of redemption in a novel as beautiful and unpredictable as lightning itself.

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307464477
The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors By Michele Young-Stone

Now an art student in New York City, Becca Burke is a gifted but tortured painter who strives to recapture the intensity of her lightning-strike memories on canvas. On the night of her first gallery opening, a stranger appears and is captivated by her art. Who is this odd young man with whom she shares a mysterious connection?

When Buckley and Becca finally meet, neither is prepared for the charge of emotions—or for the perilous event that will bring them even closer to one another, and to the families they’ve been running from for as long as they can remember.

Crackling with atmosphere and eccentric characters, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors explores the magic of nature and the power of redemption in a novel as beautiful and unpredictable as lightning itself.

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307464477

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Publish date: Apr 13, 2010
Added to Scribd: Apr 12, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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The
Handbook forLightning StrikeSurvivors
a novel
MICHELE YOUNG-STONE
Shaye Areheart BooksNew York

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readerspeak_1 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
Please tell me what I'm missing. The reviews were fantastic for this book, but I just felt like I was wading through a swamp to get through it. Becca and Buckley both live extremely difficult lives and prove that, yes, individuals can survive some really horrible circumstances. The adults in their lives who should have nurtured them were immature, selfish losers, leaving Buckley and Becca no choice but to also be quitters who avoided meaningful relationships. Passages from Buckley's Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors which opened each chapter provided the only levity to this otherwise dreary book.
jdthloue reviewed this
Rated 4/5
More NOTES, as it were:Lightning streaks in the sky, running parallel until they finally converge, in the distance/futureTwo lives.....Becca Burke and Buckley Pitank...two kids trying to grow up with dysfunctional families and the odd lightning strikeBecca: with a love-struck alcoholic mother and a philandering father...still very much a Daddy’s girl...struck by lightning, the first time at age 8. Of course, no one believed her, because she wasn’t deadBuckley: with an overweight, loving mother...a hard-hearted Grandma...and, later, an abusive stepfather...the Preacher Man-of-God.....after his mother takes them both away from all that, he still thinks he’s unworthy of love and takes his own mental beatings...Mom is killed by a lightning strike...Buckley pens an eponymous HandbookBecca reads the book, they meet but don’t fall in love. Young adulthood is a bitch...Buckley finally gets his own Lightning Strike and all ends well, more or less, in hospitalLife is messy and painful, with occasional flashes of bliss.....clear and sharp as lightning bolts and just as fatalI know i’ve given up a bit of the story here, but that isn’t what carried me....in this case it was the prose...the words. For a first novel this one is a joy...takes a while to get started but is worth the effort. Ms Young-Stone is, in fact, a lightning strike survivor...i’d like to think that “bolt” contributed to her talent.....the fluidity of these words...Highly recommended4 Stars (****)
karenlisa_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors By Michele Young-Stone Becca Burke is struck by lightning three times in her life. First, her parents think she is making it up, later her blackened feet prove otherwise. Becca's parents are in a miserable painful marriage in Chapel Hill NC, she finds solace in painting and her best friend Carrie. Buckley grows up in a small town in Arkansas. He is raised by his mean grandmother named Winter and his loving but unhappy mother, Abigail. Lightning brings these two very likable characters together. Watching Becca and Buckley grow up, nourishing friendships, love for their mothers and intense curiosity of lightning, the reader learns some very basic lessons about the possibilities of finding happiness. This debut novel is surprisingly unique. The characters are genuine and the writing is easy and enjoyable, don't let the title throw you, it's worth the read.
stevepaun reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Interesting book idea - metaphor of lightning survivors. Good characters. Unable to fall in love with any though. While it kept me reading, it wasn't all that great. Didn't inspire or motivate.
ekanderson_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Hands down, one of my favorite "grown-up books" of the past year was THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING-STRIKE SURVIVORS by Michele-Young Stone. It's a story from two perspectives, that of Becca Burke, a young girl who has been struck by lightning, whose family believes she has imagined it, and of Buckley Pitank, who lost his mother as a child in a terrifying storm. Both characters' stories are interwoven as Buckley begins research for a book that shares its title with this novel and Becca works hard to distance herself from an alcoholic mother and a father who is just out of her reach. This lyrically written novel is as much about recovery as it is about survival -- about overcoming childhood, which for many, is something we work to do every day. I fell in love with this novel as I was reading it, and it hasn't left me since.
jmchshannon reviewed this
Rated 3/5
How to describe a book that I liked but left me rather numb? After all, if I cannot formulate a single opinion on the novel, then just how much could I have truly enjoyed it? This is where I am after reading The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. I enjoyed reading it, but it was not a novel that had me eager with anticipation to keep reading. I found the one thing that kept me turning the pages was to uncover the point at which Becca's and Buckley's stories intertwined. Once they did, the story lost much of its drive and focus, leaving me wondering just what Ms. Young-Stone's point was, to which I still have no good answer.The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors follows the two distinct stories of Buckley and Becca, both affected by lightning strikes, and how their lives are shaped as a result of those strikes. Each faces hardship, some of it of their own doing, that they are able to overcome. There is an the air of tragedy and despair that pervades both of their lives yet they rise above it all through remaining numb or relatively impervious to it.While Buckley and Becca maintain a remarkable lack of emotion to the tragedies in each of their lives, the reader is left feeling like she or he was pulled through an emotional wringer. The "facts" of lightning strikes interspersed between chapters promotes a sense of urgency when it comes to lightning, adding to the tension. In addition, the language used by Ms. Young-Stone is beautifully evocative. The combination is one that creates an emotional roller coaster for the reader, weaving one's emotions into and out of despair, resignation, innocence and hope.While the novel revolves are two characters who have been impacted by lightning strikes in some way, their lives are not different from other tragedies people face. Therein lies the message. No one is any better or worse off than anyone else given certain circumstances or events. In other words, no one is alone in suffering because everyone struggles to go through life. It is a surprisingly comforting message.In spite of all this, I still finished the novel feeling numb. I wanted to love The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors and feel like I should love it more than I do. The best I can say is that it is an enjoyable novel, but unfortunately, I was hoping for something extraordinary. Given my hopes, this just fell flat. I hate when that happens.
miccosukee_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
In this impressive first novel, lightning serves as a metaphor for life as two parallel stories unravel before us. And I do mean unravel. Becca, growing up in North Carolina, and Buckley, growing in Arkansas are hit from all sides by dysfunction, narcissist parenting, and benign neglect. They are also hit by lightening. An excerpt from the “handbook” signals a change in the point of view in a voice less scientific than colloquial:“Regardless of a victim’s gender, doctors and scientists concur that the surviving victim [of a lightening strike:] needs support from family and friends to recover.”In the aftermaths of their separate encounters, Becca and Buckley do not get the support recommended by the author of the handbook, and in the same way sand is transformed, once struck by lightening, into an odd, amorphous sculpture which no longer looks or behaves like sand, Becca and Buckley limp through their childhoods, changed creatures of misfortune and loss.Healing comes in the form of art, love and justice. A satisfying epilogue tells us where the characters’ trajectories take them, and reminds us that the events in our lives, like lightening, are at once random, searingly painful, and illuminating.
amachiski reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A great book and a perfect summer read! Despite it seeming on the long side it was still a quick and easy read. This coming of age story follows two seemingly unrelated kids as they navigate adolescence and a troubled family life. What links them, however, is lightning. Becca was struck by it and Buckley witnesses a loved one get struck by it. I liked how ultimately, the lightening brought them together. Michele Young-Stone wrote each individuals story so well that I did not mind switching back and forth between their lives. The characters were well developed and there were some very emotional situations sprinkled throughout. Although there is little actual happiness within the book it is still an uplifting story about getting past the bad stuff in life and still coming out happy. The little excerpts from the Handbook itself were also a nice touch.
tldittmer04 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This book follows two people on their life path. It's well written, and interesting.
jenners26 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Story OverviewBecca Burke is first struck by lightning at the age of 8. Unfortunately, she is alone when it happens, and, because she is relatively unharmed, her parents doubt whether it actually happened. Yet though she is physically unharmed, the lightning strike changes Becca in mysterious ways--watches break or run backwards when she wears them, halos of light appear around her in photographs. Becca does her best to continue on, yet her family life becomes increasingly difficult as her father's affairs and her mother's drinking rip the family apart. As she grows older (and experiences a second lightning strike), the loss of her family, estrangement from her best friend, and her inability to be open to love lead Becca to the tortured life of an artist in New York City, complete with doomed love affairs and too much drinking. When a series of paintings inspired by lightning strikes ignites her painting career, it also leads her to another lost soul tortured by lightning ... Buckley R. Pitank.Buckley's life is an endless loop of being bullied and teased. His home life is hardly a respite. His beloved mother is the only support he has, yet they are trapped living with his bitter and nasty grandmother. When Buckley inadvertently brings an evangelical preacher into their lives (who is really just looking for good home cooking and a place to stay), Buckley's life seems to settle into an endless cycle of despair and gloom. But his mother--in a heroic act of will and rebellion--realizes they must escape if they are ever going to have a chance of happiness. Stealing away in the middle of the night, Buckley and his mother settle in Galveston, Texas, where they build a new life that seems filled with the possibility of happiness and love. Then tragedy strikes, and everything Buckley holds dear is ripped away. Returning to his grandmother's home as penance for his survival, Buckley writes The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors (excerpts of which are scattered throughout the book). Eventually, his journey brings him to New York City, where a chance encounter with Becca's paintings draw him into her orbit.As their lives become more closely intertwined, lightning (inevitably) strikes once again ... and leads to unexpected consequences.My ThoughtsI know you're probably thinking "Well just go tell us the entire story, why don't you?" Believe me when I tell you that knowing the outlines of the story doesn't give you even a hint of the depth of Young-Stone's writing. She effortlessly moves from character to character--allowing the reader to inhabit their interior lives for a time. Aside from following Becca and Buckley's stories, we also venture into the mind of other characters as well, including Becca's depressed and drunken mother, Becca's philandering father, a young drug addict, and Buckley's newly empowered mother. Young-Stone manages to create an almost dream-like reading experience. This is the type of book where you can know what is going to happen, but getting there is what makes the journey so worthwhile.This is Young-Stone's debut novel, and I was very impressed with the sophistication of her writing. Instead of telling you about a character, you get to inhabit their world for a while. I think this is difficult to pull off by even the most seasoned writers, yet Young-Stone manages it in her very first "at bat." If you are the type of reader who seeks out new authors, this is one author who should make your list. I think she has a true gift, and I'm excited to see what she does in the future.I was curious about why lightning featured so prominently in the book, so I wasn't surprised to learn that Young-Stone herself was a lightning strike survivor. I imagine this type of experience would affect you deeply, and learning this tidbit about the author gave the book even more of an air of authenticity. Lightning strikes was an interesting way to connect the stories of Becca and Buckley, and the inclusion of the excerpts from Buckley's book provide the reader with a wealth of information about lighting strikes and those who have survived them.Yet Young-Stone's writing is so powerful that she could have dispensed with the lightning motif and the book would have been just as good because ultimately, this is a book about people ... people who are damaged, lost, and trying to find love and happiness. Young-Stone does a brilliant job of creating realistic and touching journeys for all the characters--both major and minor--and I loved that she provided one of my favorite ending devices (a "where are they now" wrap-up ... you just don't get this enough, I think) that answered any lingering questions I had about the fate of the various characters I met throughout the book.The Bottom LineA wonderful debut from a writer who has true talent. Reading this book is like entering a dream-like state where you journey into the interior worlds of both the major and minor characters. Definitely recommended.

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