Synopses & 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, and contradiction playing off one another as the details unfold, author Lee Martin creates a fast-paced story that is as gripping as it is richly human. His beautiful, clear-eyed prose builds to an extremely nuanced portrayal of the complicated give and take among people struggling to maintain their humanity in the shadow of a loss.
Reminiscent of books such as The Little Friend and The Lovely Bones, but most memorable for its own perceptions and power, The Bright Forever is a compelling and emotional tale about the human need to know even the hardest truth.
"The halting, harrowing narrative of Martin's second novel (after 2001's Quakertown) draws upon multiple voices to piece together a tragedy with its own slippery backstory. On a summer evening in an 'itty-bitty' Indiana town in the 1970s, nine-year-old Katie Mackey rides her bicycle to the library and never comes home. Her father, Junior Mackey, owns the town's glassworks, and to the town's residents the Mackeys are like the Kennedys, envied for their looks, their wealth and their picture-perfect life. Peeling back the layers of his characters, Martin slips easily into their darker, secret lives lives that may harbor clues to Katie's disappearance: Henry Dees, the reclusive math tutor who sometimes lurks in the Mackeys' house; Clare Mains, the widow shunned for remarrying out of loneliness; her galling husband, Raymond R., whose drug binges and blackouts occupy stretches of unaccounted-for time; Katie's parents, freshly tortured by their own tarnished past; and Katie's brother, 17-year-old Gilley, who seizes the chance to gain his father's approval by avenging Katie's death. Rich details and raw emotion mix as Martin, in engaging the human desire to excavate the truth, underscores its complex, elusive nature. Agent, Phyllis Wender. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The first lines of Lee Martin's The Bright Forever become chilling when you know what they refer to: One evening in 1972, 9-year-old Katie Mackey sets off to return library books but never returns....[A] harrowing novel filled with lonely misfits desperate for love, or at least tenderness." Portland Oregonian
"From the opening pages, Martin's novel promises to be suspenseful, and it is, with secrets exposed and multiple possible endings suggested." San Francisco Chronicle
"Combining elements of family fiction, psychological thriller, and small-town nostalgia, this book is written in lyrical prose that will engage readers of all types." Library Journal
"Likely to gain attention for its perennially haunting theme." Kirkus Reviews
"Martin's novel is hard to put down, as these dark and intertwined lives march inexorably to tragedy." Booklist
One evening, Katie Mackey sets out on her bicycle to return some library books. This simple act is at the heart of a suspenseful novel that mixes fact, speculation, and the human need to know even the hardest truth.
About the Author
Lee Martin is the award-winning author of the novel Quakertown; the memoirs From Our House, which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection in 2000, and Turning Bones; and the short story collection The Least You Need to Know. He has won a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, a Lawrence Foundation Award, and the Glenna Luschei Prize. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he teaches in the creative writing program at The Ohio State University.