Wade Rule decides to escape his dominating mother by taking it upon himself to go to Vermont to care for his wheelchair-bound uncle who, Wade's father tells him, has recently lost his girlfriend to a "man whose legs work." Wade reveals his dream to a fellow high school student, Maria, who tells him, "I'd run off to Vermont before I'd live with my father." Wade then knows he'll have to hurry because Maria is planning to have herself declared a ward of the state within a week. She has given Wade the confidence to get them both to a better home; however, Wade's confidence is misplaced, and when he shows up at school with a shotgun to fetch Maria, things quickly go horribly wrong.
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About the Author
A native of Northern New England, Merle Drown has written stories, essays, plays, reviews, and two novels, Plowing Up a Snake and The Suburbs of Heaven. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Hampshire Arts Council and teaches in Southern New Hampshire University's M.F.A. program. The father of three sons, he lives with his wife Teresa Ceballos in Concord, New Hampshire, and Toronto
What People are Saying About This
"Intriguing, heartfelt and insightful, Lighting the World is a rich and complex novel filled with fascinating characters and genuine moments of surprise."
"This raw, gritty portrayal of a boy desperate for love and belonging provides a window into a reality we so often want to draw the curtain on and hide from view. Here, Drown explores the brutal consequences of doing just that-with wit, wisdom and above all, heart."
"A searing and sympathetic portrait of a troubled teen searching for hope in a seemingly hopeless life, Merle Drown takes us inside the mind of an angry young man, showing just how easily desperation and despair can curdle into tragedy. "
"Grounded in the cold, hard realism of tragedy, the writing is as beautiful and whimsical as the fantasies that compel young Wade Rule to pick up his shotgun and head to his high school... Merle Drown is a writer of incredible compassion, and Lighting the World... reflects how little we understand about the troubled and tortured souls who live among us."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This latest novel by author Merle Drown explores territory we all struggle to understand: the life and mind of a boy who brings a gun to school. Based on true events at the high school were Drown taught English at the time, Lighting the World does more than ask “why?” It shows readers the boy behind the picture and name; it brings readers into his mind and thought process; it shows us how he viewed the world, the world which he desperately wanted to light up with goodness. “Lighting the world” becomes protagonists Wade Rule’s mantra, his goal and the hope to which he clings. School life isn’t so great, but home life is much, much worse. Wade turns his sights to Vermont, where his beloved and disabled Uncle Andrew lives alone in a trailer, and forms a plan to go “light the world” by caring for the one relative who seems to love him. On the morning Wade puts his plan into action, he takes from home only what he can carry—including the shotgun Uncle Andrew had given him for hunting—and goes to school to find his friend who had agreed to drive him to his uncle’s. What follows is a series of misunderstandings that cause the situation to escalate into a tragedy. Despite knowing what was going to happen, readers keep rooting for Wade and hoping the tale would turn out differently. Drown presents Wade’s thoughts in such an authentic way that appear they seem logical, yet Drown also offers real-world perspective as a balance to Wade’s internal monologue, showing readers just how far gone down the road of good but unrealistic intentions the boy has traveled. Readers come away from the story with a profound sense of loss for a life that could have done so much good but was cut far too short.