From acclaimed New Face of Fiction alumna Grace O'Connell, a suspenseful, poignant and provocative tale about violence, sibling love, friendship, heroism--all told through the lens of a young woman trapped in a hijacked bus.
On the surface, Veda's life in Vancouver seems to be going just fine--at nearly thirty, she has a good job, lifelong friends, and a close bond with her brother, Conrad. But Conrad's violent behavior, a problem since he was a teen, is getting more and more serious, and Veda's ongoing commitment to watch out for him is pushing her to a breaking point.
When Veda is injured as a bystander during one of Conrad's many fights, she knows it's time to leave Vancouver for a fresh start. She heads to New York, staying in the Manhattan apartment of old friends Al and Marie. Exploring the city, she swings between feeling hopeful and lost--until one day the bus she's on is hijacked by a sweet-faced gun-toting man named Peter. He instructs Veda and the other passengers to spray paint the bus windows black, and what ensues is a gripping and unpredictable hostage situation, the outcome of which will make Veda question everything she knows about herself and the nature of fear.
Told with powerful immediacy and warmth, at once unsettling and engrossing, Be Ready for the Lightning is a story of violence, its attractions and repulsions; of love, loyalty and friendship; and of a young woman finding an unexpected kind of bravery.
GRACE O'CONNELL is the author of the national bestseller Magnified World and 2014 winner of the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing, and her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, The Globe and Mail, National Post and Elle Canada. She has taught creative writing at the University of Toronto and now works as a senior editor at Open Book Toronto and writes a books column for This Magazine. The author lives in Toronto, ON.
“Gripping, twisty novel! Killer ‘Peter Pan,’ hijacked bus, complex loves, more!” —@Margaret Atwood
“Grace O’Connell is a writer of fierce precision and her novel is enthralling. It captures the random traumas of living, and dying, in New York City with poetry and adrenalin.” —Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes
“Be Ready for the Lightning is gripping, tense and full of fear, but also generous, true and full of heart. By holding a crackling tension between the two, O’Connell takes us on a captivating exploration around the boundaries of family love.” —Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
“A riveting story of an indelible life in all its vivid turmoil and everyday beauty. With wit, empathy, and wonder, Grace O’Connell has crafted a terrifically assured novel about how words can fail us and also how they can save us. I didn’t want it to end.” —Elan Mastai, author of All Our Wrong Todays
“Tense and razor-sharp, Grace O’Connell’s writing crackles. This book will stay with you long after the last page.” —Tanis Rideout, author of Above all Things
“Be Ready for the Lightning is both a gripping page-turner and a heartfelt examination of what it means to be compassionate, even in the most extreme situations. Cinematic and timely, it’s a book you will not be able to put down.” —Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
PRAISE FOR MAGNIFIED WORLD:
“A poignant exploration of love, grief and lucidity.” —CBC Books
“Seduces immediately by force of storytelling. . . . O’Connell is spot-on about the isolating nature of grief. . . . The story’s real weight, its heart’s heft, comes with a closing sleight-of hand. In retrospect, it connects with a wallop.” —The Globe and Mail
“A poignant, affecting first novel. . . . The greatest strength of Magnified World lies . . . in moments of quiet yet piercing insight into the pain of losing a loved one.” —Toronto Star
“Powerful and haunting, Magnified World exists in a realm of its own. I greatly anticipate the future career of Grace O’Connell.” —Indigo Fiction Blog
“A very excellent book.” —This Magazine
“There is magic in Magnified World.” —January Magazine
“Part of Random House’s well-curated New Face of Fiction series. . . . O’Connell deserves marks for a bold approach to her subject—grieving is indeed a surreal, nonlinear process impossible to prepare for.” —National Post
“She’s a beautiful writer. Line by line, her prose is sensate and evocative, toying with words and images and reframing them in wonderfully counterintuitive, surprising ways.” —The Walrus
“O’Connell has a deliriously good style, swooping through layers of consciousness and comprehension with elegance and even a bit of humour. The painful experience of going on with one’s life after a loved one commits suicide is examined by stripping bare multiple layers of perception to try to find stability in an unstable emotional world. “ —Quill & Quire
“A haunting story about love and fragility, the permeable line between truth and the imagination, absence and longing, grieving and coming through. Here is a drenching swim in the strongest currents of feeling, the link between mothers and daughters, fathers, lovers and the very fine line between what we know to be real, and what we cannot ever know for certain.” —Lisa Moore, author of February
“Magnified World is a powerful debut that fearlessly tackles the fears and joys of the heart. There is poetry on the path that lies beyond loss, and Grace O’Connell has found it.” —Ami McKay, author of The Virgin Cure and The Birth House
“In its intimate mysteries and wry observation, O’Connell’s Magnified World offers something quite rare: a view of grief that isn’t sad, but touching, whimsical and wise.” —Trevor Cole, author of The Fearsome Particles
“Grace O’Connell’s debut novel is somehow seductive, subtle and stunning all at the same time. She takes the world you know in hand, and tilts it slightly, a bit more, then even more…until everything is something else, and breathtaking. Magnified World is not just big; it is deeper, scarier, more there than the real thing. And although it’s a daunting place to be, O’Connell’s writing is such that you’d follow her anywhere. You’ll want to live inside this language, wrap yourself up in it; she really is that good.” —Shaughnessy Bishop Stall, author of Ghosted