Sometimes it pays to not give up on a book.
I won Laura Pritchett’s 2015 novel at a holiday book exchange, and began reading it towards the end of my recent vacation. Yet at nearly a quarter of the way through, I nearly decided to leave it behind for the next condo guest to enjoy. The story centers on a first-person narrator who returns to her sister’s home and the daughter she abandoned after a long absence. The narrator goes to great lengths explaining how difficult her life has been, how much she regrets the decisions she’s made, and how tragically unfair this world of ours is. Unfortunately, I found the narrator’s insights more annoying than engaging, and was never convinced she had the requisite insight for her metaphysical observations. I also didn’t appreciate the author’s numerous attempts to showcase her education and linguistic abilities. Sure, it’s kinda neat to create compound words like motherlove, but how muchcreativity does that really demonstrate? And when the author insists on using this technique oneveryfreakingpage, it soon becomes tiresome.
Yet somewhere around the one-third mark, the narrator finally revealed more information about why she’d returned to her family, I began to gain interest, and found the resolution quite satisfying.
For all its imperfections, I did find “Red Lightning” both enjoyable and insightful. I’m glad I didn’t abandon it to whoever is now staying where I had been, and just might make it my gift at the next holiday book exchange.