Andrea’s Pick of the Week: The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The “climate fiction” subgenre has been gaining in popularity these days, and with good reason. Our environment is changing rapidly, and we’re seeing the effects in the headlines, as huge weather events become more commonplace. The Light Pirate presents the author’s vision of what Florida might look like in a not-so-distant future where the seas have taken over the land. The story begins in the present day, when Frida Lowe gives birth to her daughter Wanda during one of the most devastating hurricanes the state has ever seen. Frida doesn’t survive the birth, leaving her husband Kirby and his son Lucas must deal with the aftermath, raising Wanda as best they can.

Lily Brooks-Dalton

As Wanda grows, the weather events become more frequent and damaging, and the infrastructure of her small Florida town continues to deteriorate. Her father, an electrical lineman, has so much work to do that he entrusts Wanda’s after-school care to their neighbor Phyllis, a retired biology professor, who teaches Wanda not only about the nature that surrounds her, but how to survive a catastrophe. People start to move away, local governments collapse, and soon Wanda and Phyllis are among the few dedicated residents who remain in a Florida where nature has taken over. 

This devastating yet gentle book grabbed me and didn’t let go. It starts off with a bang, right in the middle of a hurricane, but slows to a more measured pace as Wanda continually readjusts to her changing world. Its dystopian near-future is a frighteningly plausible scenario that asks important questions about what we value most in life and what we’re willing to surrender in order to survive. Profound and prophetic, this is a story that stays with you long after you finish reading.

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