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The Bright Forever

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  3,215 ratings  ·  529 reviews
On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books.

This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever. Keeping fact, speculation, an
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Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published (first published May 3rd 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Molly
Sep 08, 2007 Molly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of The Lovely Bones and Frederick Busch's Girls
The Bright Forever by Lee Martin is not only a thoughtful contemplation on the nature of regret but also a dynamic page-turner that this reader could not put down. The story itself is truly riveting, and the characters are so real that I felt totally drawn into their world. One of the book's greatest successes is that Martin makes the character of Katie come so alive in the beginning of the book that as the narrative progresses the reader cares deeply about finding out what happens to this sweet ...more
Barbara
May 22, 2010 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Susan Sherwin
Lee Martin's sad, but compelling novel has remained in my thoughts as I mull over the events and their significance. He has written a deeply nuanced, complex account. A lovely nine year old girl, from a widely respected, affluent family, has disappeared. The story is narrated in the voices of various inhabitants of town. These speakers blend seamlessly and vivdly to recount their simple lives and their actions relative to the missing child.

Life in this small, insignificant,Indiana town during a
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Joan Winnek
May 03, 2010 Joan Winnek rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joan by: Barbara
I lived in Indiana in the 1940's, and this book perfectly evokes the horrible summers. The handling of various points of view was masterful: we understand each narrator and his/her flaws. Henry Dees emerges as a sympathetic character--lonely, yearning for connections in life he has missed, acutely aware of his mistakes and the quirks in his character that have contributed to them, an intelligent, gentle, dignified man.
Vonia
If I had to choose a few words to describe this novel, it would be a raw examination of guilt, somberly illustrated through the everyday lives of small town individuals, their loneliness and unspoken sacrifices relating to the murder of a treasured nine year old girl.

Avid readers will immediately recognize Lee Martin's novel's similarities to Alice Sebold's iconic novel (also made into film), The Lovely Bones. With not only near identical core storylines (The older, friendless, seemingly graciou
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Kelly
Okay, so I have to fess up and say that I almost missed out on reading this book because I feared it would be a "Lovely Bones" knockoff. There are the obvious similarities, from the missing girl and the emotional effects of her disappearance, right down to the same bare blue cover with only a charm bracelet adorning one book, a lock of hair the other. But I can assure you that "The Bright Forever" is a beautiful (and tragic) book in its own right, and should be read independent of any comparison ...more
JoAnne
I loved the voices in this book. The Bright Forever tells the story of the disappearance of Katie, an engaging 9 year old. Each chapter is narrated by one of the main characters. It reminded me Jodi Picoult's style of story telling. By the end of the book I felt empathy for all of the characters.
Bonnie
*********SPOILER***************




This book was absolutely horrible. The storyline was disgusting and reminiscent of the Jon Benet Ramsey media story. I found the story repulsive and sickening. It reminded me of The Lovely Bones but that was much better written.
Angie
"If you want to listen, you’ll have to trust me. Or close the book; go back to your lives. I warn you: this is a story as hard to hear as it is for me to tell."

I have very mixed feelings about this book. First and foremost, had this not been assigned for class, I would have taken the character up on his offer and closed the book. This kind of literary device seems amateurish, stemming only from a writer’s insecurity. And unfortunately, it occurred all throughout the book. While I understand it w
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JG (The Introverted Reader)
On a beautiful July evening, nine-year-old Katie Mackey disappears on her way to the library. And our hearts break.

I just don't know where to start. It's hard not to compare this to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones , but there's a huge difference. As I remember it, The Lovely Bones dealt with the family's grieving process through the years following Susie's death. The Bright Forever follows the immediate aftermath of Katie's disappearance. All the rage, despair, hope, shame, suspicions, and "wha
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Phuong
This book was equally engrossing and disturbing. I'm actually surprised I chose to read it as it was about the disappearance of a little girl. Comparisons to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones will surely come to mind, but the books are nothing alike. I enjoyed this book so much more than Sebold's novel, which at times, could become a little trite.


It has 5 different narrators, and even with this multi-narrative, the author creates deft characterizations. You get a very rich understanding of what m
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Jason
I don't know what to say: This book is absolutely amazing. The story is about the kidnapping (and death? I will not ruin this secret) of a little girl from a small Indiana town in the 1970's. The point of view shifts often, from the mother, father, brother, to the teacher, neighbor, etc., even including the viewpoint of the abductor him/her self. While this could have been morbid and horrifying, the book is surprisingly light and easy to read; not in a fluffy, bubble gum sort of way, Martin is a ...more
Boyd Addlesperger
Loneliness, loss and the eggshell thin veneer of happiness are central themes in this tightly written, highly disturbing novel. Martin wastes hardly a word as he weaves a narrative using the voices of those intimately involved in the disappearance of a 9 year-old girl. Lives crumble and the story spirals toward an ending you both expect and, because of a late twist, don't expect. Martin is an immensely talented story-teller.
Susan
This is a poignant suspenseful story about the disappearance of nine-year-old Katie Mackey, the daughter of one of the most affluent families of the Heights, a small Indiana town, and two men from neighboring working-class Gooseneck who might be responsible for Katie's disappearance. The first of the men is Raymond R, a pretty sketchy character, who is married to trusting,unsuspecting Clare, after the death of first husband. The second of the men is Henry Dees, a lonely stange-duck-math teacher ...more
Margaret
This story definitely held my attention and I kept reading because I wanted to know what really happened to Katie.

However, there were a few elements of the author's style of writing that I didn't care for - for example, it started out by Mr. Dees saying this is his story and he would be telling it when actually it is told by several of the characters and the author. I think I would have preferred just hearing from the characters and would have incorporated the background the author thought nece
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Leslie
The back cover introduces the situation: "On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plain of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books"
I will credit the author for telling this tale in plain, speaking language from several characters' points of view. However, this proved to be a bothersome subject - and not just because of the prolonged answer to the obvious question: "What happened to Katie Mackey?"

I
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Trisha
As I read this hard-to-put-down novel about the disappearance of a much loved little girl I kept wondering how such a harrowing and suspense filled story could also be told with such tenderness. The answer comes from Lee Martin himself in an essay he wrote about small towns. He says writers have the responsibility to tell their stories plainly and with respect for people and the stories they can’t easily tell about themselves. That’s exactly what he has done in this beautifully written novel, se ...more
Derek
Lee Martin’s heartbreaking The Bright Forever is a novel of small details and giant events, an honest-to-God page-turner, and a notable achievement. His economical use of plain language and his focus on revisited details help the novel to read, in some sense, like a short story. That is, there is hardly a wasted word or image; everything is purposeful, but not to the point of feeling over-determined. But Martin’s awareness of narrative arc elevates this book from being merely a series of small t ...more
Kelly Humenansky
This book was a definite page-turner for me. A review on the back says, "Part Mystic River, part Winesburg, Ohio," and I would add part Lovely Bones, part Criminal Minds, and snippets from a bunch of short stories. Told from a variety of perspectives, including the voice of the town as a narrator and a completely unreliable, nerdy, bachelor math teacher narrator, the story moves quickly and left me guessing even when I thought I had it all figured out. For me, a good book is all in the style of ...more
Pat
This isn't a fun book to read, and is actually quite painful both in it's subject matter and it's telling. The focus of the story is on the psyches of the novel's troubled, tortured characters, their lives deeply troubled and, in some sense ruined by a little girl's disappearance on the way to return a library book. The narrative slips back and forth in time and perspective, flitting from character to character and yet always rooted in the words of Henry, the social outcast whose silent eyes cap ...more
Mom
In a small quiet Indiana town, a sweet sparkly 9 year old girl disappears. What has happened to her? Who is responsible?

The story is told through the voices of a number of different characters -- her brother, her tutor, several other townspeople. The story is gripping and I couldn't stop reading until I knew exactly what had happened and who was responsible.

One of the treasures of this story is the fact that the author makes us care about all the characters -- they all have complicated lives and
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Fred Daly
This was my Community of Readers book; I took it on because so many kids chose it that we needed more sponsors. It's about a missing girl, like The Lovely Bones, but not nearly as good. I found the writing slow and repetitive, and a lot of what happens strains credulity. I just didn't think people would behave the way some of the characters in this novel do. Plus, the author likes to whang you over the head with people's motivations. What keeps you going is the mystery, but he makes a very mecha ...more
34ler
Aug 30, 2007 34ler rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: enemies
what a disappointment! this book as well as the known world make me wonder what the hell's wrong with the pulitzer people. Martin's novel has the most common, boring prose i've seen in a while. i didnt care for or what happened to any of the characters and the dialogue-especially that of Raymond R. was pathetically annoying. every seedy slang phrase that a b-movie hick hustler would say was put into use- unconvincingly. i guess i dont feel so bad for Martin's lack of talent as i do the inexplica ...more
Ann Olson
I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this book. It was a random grab off of the library shelves. And I'm glad I read it, but just was not prepared for the heartache.

(66) Deliberately and carefully choosing the life he would one day have. It would be a life of comfort and distinction.

(88) If you can't solve a problem, then there's an easier problem you can't solve. Find it.

(116) In the light of all the worlds misery, who was anyone to wish for an ounce more than they had?
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sara
The Bright Forever is about the abduction of a 9 year old girl and how the lives that swirled around her were affected. No. That might be an adequate logline, but it is inadequate to what I think the novel is really about. When I first picked up this novel for my book group, it was my brilliantly beautiful friend Jen’s choice. She is a curator of novels and the best kind of one. She loves it, she lives for stories and they grow well in her. While we aren’t in the same caravan for kind of tale, I ...more
Marjorie Cocjin
OMFG this book depresses me and I hate the voices in this piece gadarnit these Pulitzer finalists motherefferdarnit!!!!!!

It's not that this book isn't well written -- it is! Incredibly so enough for me to hate it so freakin much because it forced my consciousness into the minds of unpleasant characters. This book tells the story of a 9 year old's disappearance on one perfect summer afternoon (that's always a chippy premise)... And immerses you in the voices of two men who may or may not have ha
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ashley
I read this book in 2005 when it first came out but pretty much forgot everything about it until I found it on my shelf last night. I really did enjoy it, even if I did find it a little strange. I kept wanting to come back see what was going on, because I was never quite sure who to believe. You don't really get the final pieces of the puzzle until the end. I even felt some sympathy for Mr. Dees. I'd definitely recommend this for someone looking for something compelling to read.
Meghan
This was a completely absorbing, well-crafted novel--very clear why it was a PUlitzer Prize finalist. WHat I like most about the book was how complex my relationship with the narrator was. More than any book I've read recently, it elicited very strong emotional responses form me toward the narrator -- I was angry with him, felt trust, lost trust...went through a whole emotional cycle. Great read!
Lauren
Original post: http://thebittersweetbookworm.wordpre...

I was not impressed by this book. I didn’t really know what it was about when I bought it on sale, but I have to disagree with what others have said. I did not find it spellbinding or entertaining… I thought it was slow and confusing.

The story jumped around back and forth, basically if you don’t read it in one sitting you won’t really get it or remember what was significant. I guess I just didn’t really like his writing style. I thought how
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Deb



At first I thought this was The Lovely Bones redux; but, reading on, it was such a poignant and candid peek behind the curtain of outwardly meek and inwardly desperate human behavior. The author showed great insight into the dark underseam of loneliness and the emotional corruption it can create. I cried at the end...and that's not something I do readily.
Tom
The setup for this novel is suspenseful, but the follow-through is not. The author knows from the onset exactly what has transpired and spoon-feeds it to the reader in annoyingly tiny sips. The strength of the piece is in its character development, but I couldn't help but think that it would have been more involving with fewer viewpoint characters.
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Mr. Dees knew what he was doing? 1 4 Mar 24, 2014 09:55AM  
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Lee Martin is the author of the novels, The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of Heaven; Quakertown; and Break the Skin. He has also published three memoirs, From Our House and Turning Bones, and Such a Life. His first book was the short story collection, The Least You Need To Know. He is the co-editor of Passing the Word: Writers on Their Mentors. His fictio ...more
More about Lee Martin...
River of Heaven Break the Skin From Our House Quakertown Such a Life

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“The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” 17 likes
“When someone you love disappears, it's like the light goes dim, and you're in the shadows. You try to do what people tell you: put one foot in front of the other; keep looking up; give yourself over to the seconds and minutes and hours. But always there's taht glimmer of light-that way of living you once knew-sort of faded and smoky like the crescent moon on a winter's night when the air is full of ice and clouds, but still there, hanging just over your head. You think it's not far. Your think at any moment you can reach out and grab it.” 14 likes
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