I thought the prologue of this story was reliant, it was witty, thought provoking, and I liked how it reiterated the need people have to capture their life story. The mother did this by keeping a scrapbook, the protagonist Beth was telling hers by writing the book. Thought this was an interesting attempt to make readers connect with the character, but for me it failed miserably. TO connect to a character and capture their life you need to delve into the big issues.
I found the issues Target brought up like sexual abuse, a mentally unstable mother, and a coyote trickster figure, were only skimmed over. Questions were not answered, for me that was just annoying. A very real look into Canadian identity through the eyes of a young girl. Interaction between an ‘Anglo’ and a ‘Native’ girl reveals how their friendship was observed and reacted to by the surrounding community. A good look at rural Canada and the reality of the ‘white man’ living alongside and in close proximity to an Indian reservation.
I look forward to reading more of her books! “The cure for death by lightning was handwritten in thick, messy blue ink in my mother’s scrapbook, under the recipe for my father’s favorite oatcakes: Dunk the dead by lightning in a cold eater bath for two hours and if still dead, add vinegar and soak for an hour more. ” So begins Gail Anderson-Target’s extraordinary first novel, a seductive and thrilling book that captures the heart and imagination, as filled with the magic and mystery of life as it is with its lurking evils and gut-wrenching hardships.
The Cure for Death by Lightning’s more than a staggering 100,000 copies in Canada alone and became a bestseller in Great Britain, later to be published in the United States and Europe. It was nominated for the Killer Prize, the richest fiction prize in Canada, and received a Betty Tracks Award in the U. K. The Cure for Death by Lightning takes place in the poor, isolated farming community of Turtle Valley, British Columbia, in the shadow of the Second World War. The fifteenth summer of Beth Week’s life is full of strange happenings: a classmate is mauled to death; children go missing on the nearby reserve; an unseen predator Pleasures Beth.
She is surrounded by unusual characters, including Nora, the sensual half-Native girl whose friendship provides refuge; Filthy Billy, the hired hand with Trustee’s Syndrome; and Norm’s mother, who has a man’s voice and an extra little anger. Then there’s the darkness within her own family: her domineering, shell-shocked father has fits of madness, and her mother frequently talks to the dead. Beth, meanwhile, must wrestle with her newfound sexuality in a harsh world where nylons, perfume and affection have no place.
Then, in a violent storm, she is struck by lightning in her arm, and nothing is quite the same again. She decides to explore the dangers of the bush. Beth is a strong, honest, and compassionate heroine, bringing hope and joy into an environment that is often cruel. The character of Beet’s haunted other infuses the book with life by means of her scrapbook of recipes scattered throughout, with luscious descriptions of food, gardening, and remedies, both practical and bizarre. Seen through Beet’s eyes, the West Coast landscape is full of beauty and mysteries, with its forests and rivers, and its rich native culture.
The Globe and Mail commented that The Cure for Death by Lightning was “Canadian to the core,” with hints of Susann Moodier and Margaret Atwood and Alice Munroe. Anderson-Target’s vision of rural life has drawn comparisons with William Faulkner and John Steinbeck. A magic realism eminences of Latin American literature is also present, as flowers rain from the sky, and men turn into animals. Yet the style of The Cure for Death by Lightning, which the Boston Globe called “Pacific Northwest Gothic,” is wholly original.
Launched in a year with more than the usual number of excellent first novels (1 996 was also the year of Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald and Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels), this book with its assured voice heralds a worthy successor to Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence and Alice Munroe. The Cure for Death by Lightning takes place against the backdrop of daily life on a farm in remote Turtle Valley, British Columbia, during World War II. Beth Weeks is fifteen years old and lives with her parents and rebellious older brother.
Strange things are happening: a classmate of Beet’s is mauled to death; children go missing on the nearby reserve; and Beth herself is being hunted by an unseen predator. The valley is home to a host of eccentric but familiar characters Nora, a Native girl in whose friendship Beth takes refuge; Filthy Billy, the hired hand who is thought to be possessed; Norm’s mother, who has a man’s voice and an extra little anger; and Beet’s haunted mother, who recipes are laced throughout the novel, providing luscious descriptions of food, gardening, fruit-picking and preserving and remedies, both practical and bizarre.
When fifteen-year-old Beth Week’s family is attacked by a grizzly, her father becomes increasingly violent, making him a danger to his neighbors, his family, and especially Beth. Meanwhile, several young children from the nearby Indian reservation have gone missing, and Beth fears that something is pursuing her in the bush. But friendship with an Indian girl connects her to a mythology that enriches her Netscape; and an unexpected protector shores up her world.