“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
“[The] structure [of Be Ready for the Lightning] is ambitious and effective, and the alternation between a familiar coming-of-age narrative — a tender processional of first kisses, first loves, and other teenage feelings — and a claustrophobic, life-or-death urban horror show is designed to keep the reader from accessing any sort of comfort zone. A lot of the suspense in Be Ready for the Lightning lies in watching the story reveal its shape . . . and it’s [this] sense of risk-taking that is the source of the novel’s electrifying energy.”
— Quill & Quire
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.
“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
“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 adrenaline.”
— Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes
“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
“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
— Elan Mastai, author of All Our Wrong Todays
Random House Canada, Canada, June 2017