Family, magic and love combine in one entertaining read from Susan McBride. The small-town setting, ripe with intrigue, was enough to keep me flipping the pages — but the novel’s focus on sisters, lost love and motherhood really kept me coming back for more.
“A lie that Gretchen Brink told 40 years ago comes back to haunt her when a tornado brings together Sam, a mysterious man who can’t remember anything, and Abby, her newly pregnant daughter who is convinced Sam is her long-lost father. Though decades old, when Gretchen’s secrets are revealed, the ramifications will affect them all in ways they never could have imagined.
A mesmerizing study of family and love, The Truth About Love and Lightning is touching and observant, reminding us that we never know when our lives are on the precipice of change.” (Goodreads)
With a special focus on Native American lore, family dynamics and mystery, McBride’s The Truth About Love and Lightning finds us wading through the waters of the past with a few principle characters: Gretchen, a single mother who has never gotten over the shock of losing her best friend, Sam; Abigail, Gretchen’s grown daughter, who grows up believing Sam is her dad; and Sam himself, the youngest of a Native American family of farmers with a long history in Walnut Ridge, Missouri.
All in all, I tore through this book in the weeks leading up to Christmas — a notoriously busy time in which I often had to set the book aside for other tasks. Something kept bringing me back to McBride’s plot, though — a sense of intrigue that found me desperate to answer a few key questions: could this mysterious man blown in by a tornado actually be Sam Winston? Where had he been all this time? Is he actually Abby’s father?
Though the build-up to those resolutions felt a little bigger than the resolutions themselves, I really enjoyed this story — and wished we could have gotten to better know Gretchen’s two blind sisters, Trudy and Bennie. I loved the sisters’ preternatural abilities to see or hear things others couldn’t, giving them an otherworldly quality, and wished we could have seen their interior lives.
Flipping between the past and present, The Truth About Love and Lightning does a fine job of blending folklore with the lessons of the present. As much as the story centers on Sam and Gretchen, especially in their youth, it’s also the tale of the Winston family — and the land on which they’ve made a home for decades. It was fascinating how the farm comes to be in Gretchen’s possession, and I could definitely perfectly picture the setting — a testament to McBride’s storytelling.
Though the story left me with more questions than answers, I really enjoyed it. Fans of Sarah Addison Allen’s brand of magical realism, stories of first love, novels centered on folklore and those looking for a quick, entertaining read with a healthy dash of mystery will find plenty to enjoy in The Truth About Love and Lightning.
3.5 out of 5!