Friday, October 7, 2022

The One Book That Struck Me This Year… Like a Bolt of Lightning!

Consider today’s post the caboose, pulling up the rear of our 

summer train of themed blog posts about the one book that each

of us learned from this past year.

(Or in April’s case, the one book that changed her.)

Of course I’ve known from the get-go the book I’d be choosing, 

and the twist on our theme it demanded - i.e. the book that struck 

me like a bolt of lightning: My Own Lightning (Dutton, May, 

2022), Lauren Wolk’s sequel to the Newbery Honor Winner 

Wolf Hollow (Dutton, 2016). 

I leave the compelling and surprising plotlines of both books to 

future Readers. 

Suffice it to say, when I left 12-year-old Annabelle McBride in 

western Pennsylvania’s Wolf Hollow in 1946, her heart was heavy, 

weighed down with matters of truth-telling and justice and 

kindness, of personal responsibility “when doing right can go 

very wrong.”  She was telling her story first person, past tense, 

years after the action that showed her she mattered. She grabbed 

my heart and refused to let go.


So imagine my delight when she beckoned me again, this time at 

the start of summer of that very same year. Except now her spirit 

lay lowMight-have-beens and if-onlys distracted her, she shared. 

What-ifs consumed her. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, 

her world once more “tipped on its axis”! The lightning that struck 

her that stormy June day heightened her sensibilities, especially to 

emotions, and changed her outright. Or rather, eventually and for 

the better, outright and inward. Empathy has a way of setting 

straight misunderstandings, teaching us how to forgive, both 

others and ourselves. The story’s illumination of such Truths 

caused me to “fizzle and crackle” right along with Annabelle,

despite the difference in our ages, as if we were both still full 

of lightning. 

My own lightning, indeed.


Katherine Paterson superbly described the kind of magic Lauren 

Wolk conjures up.

     “What happens is a reciprocal gift between writer and reader:

       one heart in hiding reaching out to another.”

Each of Lauren Wolk’s “Book Daughters” as she calls them in this 

interview with Horn Book’s Roger Sutton, has gifted me 


Crow in Beyond the Bright Sea, a story set on the Elizabeth Islands 

off the coast of Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1925.

Ellie in Echo Mountain, a story set in Maine in 1934. 

A fifth grader recently queried Ms. Wolk if she might write a story 

featuring all three of her young female characters, resurrecting a 

story idea she’d put aside. 

We Readers can only heartfully hope.

Thanks to Sarah Grace Tuttle for hosting today’s Poetry Friday. 

May a story strike
you soon!

Esther Hershenhorn


Linda Mitchell said...

oooooh! I think I need to read this book. Thanks for the outstanding review.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, Linda!
I'm so glad this post prompts you to read MY OWN LIGHTNING.
I failed to mention: a Reader - needn't - have read WOLF'S HOLLOW to live inside this story.
Karen Wolk writes classics in the vein of Katherine Paterson, Patricia Maclachan and Richard Peck - IMHO. :)

Patricia Toht said...

I love, love, love Lauren Wolk's books! I had forgotten that the WOLF'S HOLLOW sequel was coming out, so I'm off to secure a copy to read. Thank you for your reflections on it, Esther. (And for the reminder!)

April Halprin Wayland said...

What a BEAUTIFUL review, Esther! You've made me hungry for this book--for all her books!