Pub date: September 11, 2008
Winner, 2008 Amazon.ca First Novel Award
Winner, 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book
Shortlisted, 2009 McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Shortlisted, 2009 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
Shortlisted, 2009 Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book
Longlisted, 2010 IMPAC Dublin Award
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 the Second World War 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 some-thing we can hardly imagine.
"The book is destined to be classic of Canadian Prairie Literature. With writing as fresh and as beautiful as a Prairie landscape, Joan Thomas weaves a tale of mythical proportions." - Wayne Hurlburt, Blog Business World
"Most first-time novelists strain for the gold ring; Joan Thomas grabs it effortlessly in this wonderful book." - Quill & Quire, starred review
"A stunning prairie novel. . . The dialogue between characters blends emotions and words in an alchemy of tension . . . If Joan Thomas is an unknown name to you, that's about to change." - Adelia Neufeld Wiens, Winnipeg Free Press
"Thomas's novel is a beautifully described and carefully detailed intersection of competing landscapes. . . . Reading by Lightning flashes with wit and in
Reading by Lightning