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The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,351 ratings  ·  279 reviews
When lightning strikes, lives are changed.


On a sunny day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, eight-year-old Becca Burke was struck by lightning. No one believed her—not her philandering father or her drunk, love-sick mother—not even when her watch kept losing time and a spooky halo of light appeared overhead in photographs. Becca was struck again when she was sixteen. S
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Crown (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  1,351 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2010
I really don't know what to say about this book. My main comment would have to be that the publisher's blurb is completely useless. You keep waiting for the two main characters to meet and connect, but they don't until the book is nearly over and then it's anti-climatic. I felt a lot of sympathy for both Becca and Buckley and was cheering them on, but it came to nothing. The book totally fizzled by the end and I think the author kind of cheated with the "where they are now" epilogue for all the ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
I kept hoping that it would improve, but no such luck. This is shallow, immature, gimmick-laden tripe. Very disappointing.

Neither well written nor well told. Much of it was dull, and the pacing was terrible. Also, it was irritating to have the author arbitrarily break the 4th wall, over-explain EVERYTHING, and the "where are they now" at the end was a low cop out. The cast of characters was large and tritely sketched. Even the major characters felt one-dimensional, their inner lives poorly desc
Jen McConnell
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Simple put, this was quite wonderful!

I never once felt like I was reading about 'characters.' These were definitely real people. And the way Ms. Young-Stone interweaves the voices is quite amazing. Sometimes the narrator is different from paragraph to paragraph and yet I was never confused or lost - on the contrary I felt like I was right there inside each person's mind. She does the transitions so seamlessly, I am in awe, and as a writer, envious.

I literally didn't want to put the book down at
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-books
It was easy to get confused at first as the different chapters skipped between characters and times. Once things got going it was a little easier to figure out and the characters started to have interactions with each other. I thought they would be more closely tied together though, it all seemed so random and accidental most of the time.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how I found this one but glad I did! So raw and real and just good. ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was our book club pick for June. I'm struggling with rating it; I think it had a lot of potential but overall it just didn't really hold my interest. I liked the idea of alternating between Becca and Buckley's stories, with the little lightning "facts" and anecdotes in between. I usually really like stories that are told this way, but it didn't quite work as well for me this time. I think the bits about lightning could have been a little more interesting and sometimes the writing didn't flo ...more
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
“If you are a lightning strike survivor, understand that you are not alone.” When eight-year-old Becca Burke is struck by lightning in her driveway on a sunny day, that’s exactly how she feels. Her mother and father don’t even believe her, and only her grandmother sees that the hands on her watch are moving backward. It’s many years later, with another strike under her belt, when Becca reads that sentence from Buckley R. Pitank’s Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, and feels understood. Ho ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted on Layers of Thought.

Actually a 4.5 star.

One of my favorite books this year - it’s a sweet, funny, and heartbreaking novel with a metaphorical link to lightening.

Shellie’s Blurb: Set in the 1980s in the Midwest and the Southern Eastern Coast of the US, this is a coming of age story of sorts with multiple characters experiencing their respective lives and their connection to lightning and its similarities to life.

Buckley Pintak the main male character is a good boy even if
Lydia Presley
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010, family, arc
Okay, so I loved this book. It was not what I expected, at all, but I still loved it.

The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors is the story of two very different but but similar people (confusing, no?). Becca, a young girl who is struck by lightning and Buckley, a young boy who experiences the horrifying reality of lightning strikes as well.

Both families these children grow up in are disjointed and horrible. I was depressed throughout the book because no one could ever seem to catch a break.
Irene Ziegler
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 th
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
When I was a little kid at our cabin out on the wide open plains of SD, I saw lightning split a tree in half from 50 feet away. The force of the white light blew me off of my feet. It's been a difficult event to process. Reading this book makes me realize that I did in deed have something very profound happen to me.
In this book, when lightning strikes, it can instantly kill or alter its victims. Each chapter heads off with a handbook style account given by survivors or facts to help survive a st
Jennie Coughlin
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: small-towns
I was lucky enough to hear Michele read a selection from this before I bought the book, which bumped it to the top of my to-read list. Handbook is an ambitious book, weaving in lots of people and places over several years, with two main plot threads running parallel tracks for much of the story. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this could have been a train wreck. Fortunately, Michele keeps everything flowing as she weaves her tale, creating an engaging read. I had to stop midway through fo ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern
There are moments in life that startle you, make you cry, and experience the warmth of human relationships (even relationships with pets). Life, period. The "Handbook" offered each in a way I simply did not expect. Subtle, poignant, and sometimes brash story of unforgettable characters and their journey in this world. Not offering spoilers at all... never do. I will say that after I'd gotten to close to the second half of the book, I didn't put it down. I couldn't. I needed to know what was goin ...more
Tina Dalton
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable book, easy to read yet well-written. The author herself is a lightning strike survivor and that theme, the question of how and why one survives such a thing, is explored through the various characters lives. I'm glad I read this one. ...more
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic. 'Nuff said. ...more
Becca Guillote
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
What an odd book! It was entertaining, but the entire book built up to a ending that then just kind of fizzled. I also had a hard time keeping the minor characters straight, they would be introduced then the storyline would shift and it would be chapters before they appeared on the page again. Certainly an interesting premise though.
RoseMary Achey
Apr 10, 2021 rated it liked it
An interesting premise and fresh concept however the structure of the chapters was somewhat confusing. Love this author’s voice. Quirky characters with real life faults.
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors is difficult to sum up in a review. It is (in the best possible way) a narrative as skittish as the lightning that propels it, flitting from character to character in unpredictable fashion. We never know where the narrative will land next. This lightning-esque storytelling might not work in some stories, but it is a more than fitting approach here. The story follows multiple characters, with an emphasis on lightning strike survivor Becca and lightning ...more
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have to admit, I don't normally read books in this vein. Normally I like books with an angsty female protagonist set in magical alternate earths, but once in a while I'll have friends & coworkers suggesting books to me. This was one such book & I have to admit, I was surprised at how quickly I got into it.

The tale follows two different people from slightly different times. Becca was struck by lightning as a child & ever since that fateful day she's been desperately trying to recapture that fee
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have been fascinated by the title of this book for quite awhile. Along with my interest in the title, the fact the author has been struck by lightning herself, helped push this book on to my to-read list.

Becca and Buckley have both had their lives affected by lightning strikes. They seem to have a lot in common, enough that at times I had to stop and figure out whose life I was reading about. Young-Stone tells her tale by creating parallel stories and by playing a bit with time. Occasionally,
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: family-sagas
Michele Young-Stone's delightful first novel, THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS, features a sizable cast of believable characters as they progress through several decades to 1995 while inhabiting a variety of locations: Mont Blanc, Arkansas; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Galveston, Texas; and New York, New York. I found most of these characters to be good company most of the time, which is more than I can say for most people.

Each brief chapter is followed by a page from the HANDBOOK FOR
Sarah Stokar
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The first time I saw this book, I was stamping new books into my school library. I would always find covers and titles that would catch my eye and this one was just flashing "READ ME!". From that point on, I was sent on a journey following these two amazing, complicated people through their lives. One of he best parts of this book is that all the characters seem real. They live. They breathe. They cry. They feel joy. They dream. I can actually see these characters to be real people moving throug ...more
E. Anderson
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meeting Michele Young-Stone was what prompted me to purchase her book. She'd worked so hard on it and was so personable, friendly, and encouraging to emerging writers. Young-Stone wrote in a style I like and admire in her epic debut that spans POVs, generations, and locales. I enjoyed her narrative style and the overall arc of the book and connections made between people that weren't always so evident. I also very much appreciated that there wasn't quite a happy ending or a kind of soulmate for ...more
Meagan Houle
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This book deserves a star for sheer originality. I picked it up because of the title (of course--it's a great marketing ploy) and I liked it well enough. Several interwoven stories, all touched by lightning in some way, are presented with grit and honesty. This author pulls no punches. One of Becca's neighbours has a "cheating whore wife". The Reverend is corrupt. People die, painfully and without grace. Wannabe hippies hide in dirty shacks, popping pills to keep from feeling something. It's all ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This novel starts with a lightning strike and once we meet the characters like Becca and Buckley who have been struck by lightning or touched by it in some way - the story becomes a bolt of lightning with intersecting branches and plots told by various characters. It's about family relationships that have gone awry - a dad tries to buy his daughter's love, a mom who can't cope without alcohol, a boy who longs for a father and a fiery artist whose spirit and work mimics the brilliant white of a l ...more
Courtney (ProjectsHalfDone)
Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Michele Young-Stone is one of the most amazing and talented writers I've seen come along. She takes the lives of several characters and slowly weaves in and out of their tales. I cannot even begin to describe how beautifully written this novel is. She captivates the reader and constantly keeps them guessing until the end.

This book is thought provoking, funny, sad, tragic, educational, and simply amazing. I can't wait to see what Michele Young-Stone will write
Danielle Ryder
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Michele Young Stone is a real artist. The way she writes, the details about being haunted until you express it creatively...get it out of your body: soul in the paint. I'm keeping an eye out for more from this writer/artist.
The only detail missing about being struck by lightening in my opinion is the after effects: the adrenaline pumping for hours afterwards, the awareness of life like I was actually awake for the first time in my life...until that energy grounded. I don't recommend running in
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange Story

This story meandered like crazy and through the middle 50% seemed to be going not much of anywhere, but for some reason I kept going. The main characters were not incredibly interesting or believable, and their families and friends tended to be trashy. I guess overall it was the angle of the lightening strike survival that kept me interested. The format of the story, going back and forth between the lives of the characters and the excerpts from the Handbook, worked well. I feel the
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Book Review 1 10 Nov 18, 2012 04:33PM  

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MICHELE YOUNG-STONE is the author of LOST IN THE BEEHIVE, an O Magazine pick, ABOVE US ONLY SKY, and THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS. She is currently at work on a fourth novel.

Read excerpts from her novel at http://www.micheleyoungstone.com

In addition to being a writer, Michele is a mom, wife, animal lover, Zumba and Hip-Hop addict, crafter, Pinterest junkie, and bird watcher. Learn

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