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Reviews of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The Light Pirate

by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton X
The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2022, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2024, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Book Summary

For readers of Station Eleven and Where the Crawdads Sing comes a hopeful, sweeping story of survival and resilience spanning one extraordinary woman's lifetime as she navigates the uncertainty, brutality, and arresting beauty of a rapidly changing world.

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state's infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker, his pregnant wife, Frida, and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds in search of his children. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.

As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

Excerpt
The Light Pirate

Frida watches Kirby from the kitchen window while she washes Yukon Golds beneath a thin trickle of water. Scrubbing at the dim yellow skins, she decides not to peel them. Maybe the boys won't notice if she mashes them thoroughly enough—and if they do, she will cite nutritional value. Outside, beneath a bloated purple sky knifed with the sharp fronds of a coconut palm, Kirby stacks sandbags against the door to the tool shed. Even with the AC blasting, Frida can smell the rich stink of thunder in the air, something like ozone and gasoline and dirt all mixed together. The hurricane is close now. She can taste it.

The baby kicks so hard she holds on to the counter until it stops. It feels as if this tiny, unborn thing could topple her. She asked—no, begged—Kirby to take them north, beyond the cone of uncertainty, but this is the third hurricane of the season and the third time she's wanted to evacuate. The first one fizzled into a tropical storm...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. The English word "hurricane" is adopted from the Spanish word huracán, which is derived from Juracán, the name the Taíno, the Indigenous people of the Caribbean, bestowed upon their God of chaos and destruction. Hurricane Wanda, however, is depicted as a powerful yet impersonal force: "The hurricane takes what yields. Nothing more; nothing less." How do these two interpretations affect your personal feelings about natural disasters—and their consequences?
  2. The novel unfolds in four parts: power, water, light, and time. How does The Light Pirate's unique structure mirror Wanda's journey from childhood to adulthood while also speaking to the changes taking hold of the natural world?
  3. One major theme of The Light Pirate is ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Though climate change is a very real problem, its scope can often feel overwhelming. As is stated in Brooks-Dalton's novel, "There is a necessary tension between knowing how nature works in theory and witnessing it." Wanda's community alone is hit regularly by deadly storms, power outages, supply shortages, extreme flooding and stifling heat. By keeping the narrative set in this single location and focusing on the perspective of one family across the years, Brooks-Dalton makes their struggle to quite literally weather the storm more acutely felt. This in turn makes the potential future laid out in the novel feel all the more plausible – and the book itself all the more impactful...continued

Full Review (603 words)

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(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Brooks-Dalton paints a luminous and wrenching portrait of a frighteningly possible future.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Brooks-Dalton creates an all-too-believable picture of nature reclaiming Florida from its human inhabitants, and her complex and engaging characters make climate disaster a vividly individual experience rather than an abstract subject of debate. Catastrophic climate change seems all too real through the eyes of a Florida girl.

Publishers Weekly
[G]ripping if underdeveloped...Though the magical elements are unexplained and extraneous, the author sustains a steady pace from one storm to the next. Climate fiction aficionados will eat this up.

Author Blurb Jillian Medoff, author of When We Were Bright and Beautiful
Lily Brooks-Dalton is an audacious, exquisite writer whose work pulses with humanity and hope. In The Light Pirate, her mesmerizing new novel, Brooks-Dalton achieves the impossible: she leaves us feeling grateful to be alive even as she describes, with pinpoint precision, the end of the world as we know it. Gripping, poetic, and wholly original, this book changed how I see the future. I'll never forget it.

Author Blurb Meredith Hall, author of Beneficence
This is one of the most daring, deeply imagined and moving novels I have read. The writer asks us to consider a near-apocalyptic future, but, in prose that is beautiful and precise, Brooks-Dalton offers us hope that we are capable of remaking this world as a gentler and more generous-hearted place. Readers will not forget this beautiful book.

Author Blurb Rachel Lyon, author of Self-Portrait With Boy
I read this book in a whirlwind, voracious as the hurricanes at its heart. Lily Brooks-Dalton writes with the kind of intricate sensitivity that leaves one grateful to be—faultily, flimsily, adaptably, temporarily—human. Harrowing, tender, and urgent, The Light Pirate is a novel of global scope and exquisite intimacy.

Reader Reviews

Ann E Beman

Hope is light in the darkness
Resilience, survival, adaptability. These are all themes of this novel told in four parts -- power, water, light, time. Wanda Lowe is named for the catastrophic storm that opens this memorable novel. She is born in a not-too-distant future Florida, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Impact of Climate Change in Florida

Tidal flooding in Miami on a sunny day, view of shallow waters submerging a city street corner Climate change is an international problem but its impact can already be felt more intensely in certain areas. This is particularly true in locations that are warm and coastal, which are more susceptible to the effects of increased temperatures, rising sea levels, worsening tropical storm systems and erosion. Florida is one such example, and author Lily Brooks-Dalton explores the potential future of the climate disaster for the state's residents in her novel The Light Pirate.

As the world's oceans grow warmer and rainfall escalates, storms are able to form from greater potential energy, resulting in more intense weather systems. Florida's unique geographical location — between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean — ...

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Read-Alikes

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