The Bright Forever by Lee Martin
Author website: Click here
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Published in: 2005
Price: Rs. 802- Imported edition (discounted to Rs. 602 At Flipkart)
/11.22 $ at Amazon
From the book cover
On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books. This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever. Keeping fact, speculation and contradiction playing off one another as the details unfold, the author creates a fast-paced story that is as gripping as it is richly human. His beautiful, clear-eyed prose builds to an extremely nuanced portrayal of the complicated give and take among people struggling to maintain their humanity in the shadow of a loss.
It is a compelling and emotional tale about the human need to know even the hardest truth.
This is an awesome description as it sums up precisely what’s in the book!
The Bright Forever is a tale of a small town in Indiana and its people. I got this book from the library and what really made me want to read it was its simplicity. The cover’s simple and from the description we would think it would be an effortless story. Well, the story was effortless, if you just focus on the events that happened, but the basis of the book became clear when I was halfway through. It’s basically about the way humans think and delves deep into the psychology of those who’re lonely, who have regrets and guilt, who’re scared to love. It primarily talks about things you don’t see in many books and for this, it was different and unlike many that I’ve read.
A man is a mathematics teacher and lives alone with no one to love except the children who’re his students. What goes on in his mind? How does he cope with such loneliness? How does he feel about loving a 9 year old girl as if she were his own daughter? What does the society think about it? This is Mr. Dees and the lively nine year old is Katie Mackey, daughter of an affluent family whom he teaches math over the summer. Katie is a lovely girl and Mr. Dees is immediately taken to her. But he’s worried about letting his feelings show in case her parents or other people might think he’s got a negative side to such behaviour. That’s the way we would think, wouldn’t we? As depressing as the character was, I think his portrayal was wonderful.
It’s not a happy story and the character’s lives are certainly not happy. The point of the book is to deliver the thoughts and feelings sad / lonely people might have and the way they feel when they’re shunned from the society or have no one to love. There’s Clare, Mr. Dees’s 60 year old neighbour who lost her husband Bill and then found Raymond after a while. Ray lives with her but the neighbours don’t like him and they cut off from Clare. This is another character who’s lonely, but she had someone to love and now there’s someone else. How does she juggle her feelings, how she’s innocent and wants Ray to be with her because she couldn’t think of staying alone.
Then there’s Ray, who was one character that kind of scared me. He seemed jolly and well, but when he started communicating with Mr. Dees and later tried blackmailing him and the readers don’t know what kind of a person he is, because we don’t have any background information. He was a drug addict and had a bad childhood. Ray’s character describes how hatred in childhood can distort the minds of the people, affecting the way they grow up to be. It’s not really their fault, they want to be good, but there’s always been so much of loathing they’ve seen that they can’t help their behaviour. They need help, not temptation.
The book’s written in a way that gives us the perspective from many different minds, like one chapter on Mr. Dees, how he’s thinking, what he feels happened, how he feels about Katie and her disappearance, then one chapter on Clare and things that happened, things she knows about, the next one on Raymond, next on Gilley, who’s Katie’s elder brother and has been shown as the family’s thinking-representative. This way of telling the story is different and refreshing since it gives the views from all sides, and there’s always some element of mystery, but it’s mild in the first half of the book. Once the events start rolling, it’s always there and not having a single perspective can be confusing. But overall, it was okay. If you’re looking for something that will help you understand human behaviour, this is one such book that you can go for.
Recommended for: The story isn’t a happy one and there are no happy endings. So, if you’re not interested in psychology related stuff and a story that can be a little bit depressing, you can skip this one. But if you think you’d like to understand in depth the behavioural aspects of guilt and regret ridden individuals and don’t mind a sad story, you should go for it.