review: The Night the Lights Went Out

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The Night the Lights Went Out

by Karen White

This is another book club read, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it included sections that are historical–Great Depression and WWII era. The main character, Merilee, is a recently divorced mother of two trying to make it on her own in a new environment–among the more affluent members of society–due to her kids being enrolled in a private school. She makes a few friends among the mothers, but feels a greater connection with 94-year-old Sugar Prescott, her new on-site landlady. The two grow closer (reluctantly on Sugar’s end) as they share personal stories and history of the land and town. Merilee soon discovers she’s being targeted by one of her new acquaintances, but struggles to determine the culprit. She must dig into her own unsavory past to find a link to her current predicament.

Being that it’s written by a local author and the landscape is familiar, I was able to appreciate the message of how farm land outside of Atlanta has turned into suburbs in the past decades, and how it’s affecting society and erasing history. We had a great discussion at our book club meeting and I’m glad we chose this book as it’s introduced me to an author I may have otherwise overlooked. Her genre/brand never stood out to me as historical, but I see she has mixed history with contemporary and a bit of romance and murder mystery, too.

The book club members all agreed that Merilee–though the main character–was not the most likable, but that Sugar stole the show! This is definitely true, and I found that her flashback chapters were the most fascinating and enjoyable. The mystery blogger’s excerpts were also absolute gems and kept the parallel format from getting stagnant. There’s plenty of Atlanta area place-name dropping, but the story is universal enough to please readers outside our lovely state. Highly recommended!