Rainlight
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Rainlight

4.2 4
by Alison McGhee
     
 

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The moving story of a father who dies young and the family he leaves behind

Even in a small town people have secrets, including how much they really mean to each other. In Alison McGhee’s haunting debut, a tragic event sparks revelations from nine-year-old Mallie, her mother, her grandfather, a waitress, and Mallie’s father’s ex-lover.

Overview

The moving story of a father who dies young and the family he leaves behind

Even in a small town people have secrets, including how much they really mean to each other. In Alison McGhee’s haunting debut, a tragic event sparks revelations from nine-year-old Mallie, her mother, her grandfather, a waitress, and Mallie’s father’s ex-lover. They discover long-hidden truths and forge new bonds in this unforgettable, heartbreaking novel about parents, children, and love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Unfold[s] as delicately as rice paper....Illustrates, simply and searingly, the complex emotional connections everyone feels, but few can articulate.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Entering Rainlight is like walking into a kaleidoscope; like discovering a brilliant territory in which uncommon beauty mingles with a common, but devastating, loss. Poignant and vivid, this novel illuminates, in every sense. McGhee’s prose shimmers on the page.” —Julie Schumacher, author of The Body is Water

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Unfold[s] as delicately as rice paper...Illustrates, simply and searingly, the complex emotional connections everyone feels, but few can articulate.
Minnesota Monthly
A haunting and artistic tale...carefully detailed and fully rendered.
Booklovers
...a literary richness well above any syrupy melodrama.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Special-ed teacher Starr Williams, father of two young children, is killed snatching a retarded child, Johnny Zielinski, from under the wheels of a truck while Starr's father and Johnny's mother watch. The grief of Starr's children and the secrets of his family life are the subject of this vivid, poetically charged (and occasionally overwritten) first novel. The narrative zigzags between past and present, as Starr's nine-year-old daughter, Mallie, erects an elaborate set of rituals to keep her father alive, force-feeds her younger brother a belief in reincarnation and makes him repeat a litany of Starr's favorite foods and colors. Mallie's voice is so strong, so wrenching in its impact, that it overwhelms the other contributors to the narrative. The tragic coincidences that bind together Starr's extended family, who live in a small town in the foothills of the Adirondacks, are enough to make Charles Dickens blush, but McGhee is a wonderful observer of mourning. Her characters cling to the tangible remains of Starr's life with a credible, poignant urgency that redeems the novel from its frustrating contrivances. 10,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A carefully wrought take on death, love, and other profundities in a small town tries but fails to move or matter. In structure and language, McGhee's debut is more a prose portrait than a conventional novel. Various figures mourning the death of one man, Starr Williams, express their memories and responses to his death in evocative fragmentsfragments that, rather than a sustained narrative, cumulatively work to create an elegiac mood of healing and acceptance. When 30-year-old Starr dies trying to save Johnny, a retarded boy (and his unacknowledged son), from an oncoming truck, the people who've loved Starr react to his death in different ways. Crystal, Johnny's waitress mother, who saw the accident from the diner where she works, is the most philosophical about Starr's deathbut then he'd moved out of her life 12 years earlier when he left her pregnant and went off with Lucia, whom he later married. Crystal gave birth to Johnny alone in her trailer and has passed him off as her nephew. Lucia, meanwhile, not only mourns Starr but also her parents, who were killed when she was three; Tim, Starr's art-teacher father who has some bittersweet secrets of his own, is still grieving for his wife Georgia, who died in a car crash on a nearby mountain road a few years back; and nine-year-old Mallie, Starr and Lucia's daughter, overly imaginative and obsessed with ritual, believes its her fault he died because she failed to hug him that day. She hides Starr's ashes, keeps lists about him, and, desperately believing in reincarnation, on a visit to China with Tim looks for Starr in every Chinese baby she sees. As the months pass, secrets are shared, hurts forgiven, and life without Starr, even forMallie, becomes more bearable. Less-than-credible charactersStarr being the most unconvincingremember and forgive in anodyne ways in a debut that, for all its evocations of feeling, remains emotionally dry-eyed.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312277031
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
11/28/2001
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.29(w) x 7.91(h) x 0.61(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Alison McGhee is the author of Shadow Baby. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the recipient of a Loft-McKnight Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a 1995 Editor’s Fiction Prize from Snake Nation, and a Pushcart Prize honorable mention.

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Rainlight 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a gorgeous book that takes us into a small town in the Adirondack mountains. McGhee introduces us to a community of people who have all been affected in myriad ways by the death of a young man named Starr Williams. The portions of the book written from his daughter Mallie's point of view are simply stunning. I cried when I read this book, and that says a lot. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has to be the most confusing of any I've ever read. I can't make it past Chapter 4.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Allison McGhee grabs you and does not let go. I met her through the Minnesota Parent book club I am a part of (she's a Minneapolis native) and we chose this WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL story. Someone should definately contact Oprah about this writer. Helpful Hint: Read the titles at the beginning of each chapter. You'll never even miss the quotation marks!