Sometimes we hear that the Earth will be fine after an environmental apocalypse. It’s not the “end of the world;” it’s just the end of humans on it. That idea is in The Light Pirate: after being battered by a series of intense hurricanes, Florida itself seems very much at peace with its watery status. It’s just the people who have to adjust. Wanda—named for the storm that raged while she was being born—is a Floridian determined to adapt and survive, even as the water rises. While her father and brother fight to keep the lights on, Wanda and her neighbor adapt and adjust. You will think of this book every time a hurricane bears down on Florida. How much abuse can the infrastructure take? How much is civilization bound up in that infrastructure? How hard do we fight to keep the electrical grid intact? What kind of society will be left when it fails?
—Elizabeth Hardin, Snail Readers Circle
December 2022 Indie Next List
“A survivor of a book. In the not-too-distant future, Florida is hurricane central, and Wanda (a hurricane namesake) is in the eye of this story that wraps around you; you’ll hold on for dear life, with everybody else.”
— Michelle Bear, Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA
Set in the near future, this hopeful story of survival and resilience follows Wanda—a luminous child born out of a devastating hurricane—as she navigates a rapidly changing world: A “symphony of beauty and heartbreak” (Associated Press).
A Good Morning America Book Club pick · #1 Indie Next pick · LibraryReads pick · Book of the Month Club selection · Marie Claire #ReadWithMC book club selection · 2022 NPR “Book We Love” · New York Times Editors’ Choice
Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker, his pregnant wife, Frida, and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds in search of his children. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.
As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.
Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.
About the Author
Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, Good Morning, Midnight (Random House, 2016), has been translated into 17 languages and is the inspiration for the film adaptation, The Midnight Sky. Her memoir, Motorcycles I’ve Loved (Riverhead, 2014), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
"Brooks-Dalton has a different sort of vision for the post-apocalypse, one that’s not so dystopian . . . It’s good to read an alternate and more hopeful story of how life might be experienced on a planet that is partly dying but also evolving, even if fewer humans remain."—New York Times
"A reverent observation of nature’s power . . . The novel rewards readers with peace and solace after persevering through a series of tragedies that feel too close to home. The Light Pirate is a symphony of beauty and heartbreak, survival and loneliness. Combined, it’s a haunting melody of nature."—Associated Press
“Feels like a small miracle: a book about a world wrecked by climate change that manages to be full of warmth and compassion . . . The real genius of The Light Pirate lies in the gentleness with which Brooks-Dalton treats her characters . . . Proof that climate fiction is maturing, producing works that are both nuanced and nourishing.”—Washington Post, Charlie Jane Anders
"A formidable young woman’s coming-of-age . . . Brooks-Dalton creates an all-too-believable picture of nature reclaiming Florida from its human inhabitants, and her complex and engaging characters make climate disaster a vividly individual experience rather than an abstract subject of debate."—Kirkus, Starred Review
“Brooks-Dalton paints a luminous and wrenching portrait of a frighteningly possible future.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“Harrowing and hopeful, Pirate reveals an all-too-possible future.”—People, Book of the Week
"Timely . . . Reminiscent of Delia Owens' Where the Crawdads Sing, readers especially loved Brooks-Dalton's vivid writing style."—Marie Claire
"Gripping . . . sustains a steady pace from one storm to the next. Climate fiction aficionados will eat this up."—Publishers Weekly
"A devastatingly beautiful, yet heavy story that pictures a dystopian American in the midst of climate change disaster . . . Wanda’s deep connection to her home and a special ability keep her tethered to a place she loves, with people she loves, even if disaster has diminished the community."—Buzzfeed
"A stunning work of literary fiction . . . Both an urgent reminder of the various crises that our planet faces and a tender meditation on change and adaptability, The Light Pirate is one of the best, most sobering and downright gorgeous novels I have read in quite some time. Right from the start, Brooks-Dalton immerses readers in the tension and immediacy of an approaching storm, employing the crackling energy not just in the atmosphere but also in her characters’ inner lives . . . A searing call to action that is as daring as it is luminous and moving, [Brooks-Dalton's novel] is an instant classic and a damning portrait of our time."—BookReporter.com
“There is a luminescence here, a force that takes on a quality of the intelligence of the universe. In the glow of that light, hope and exhilaration bloom. And in these moments before the new, violent storm hits its readers, the world of this novel is unforgettable.”—New York Journal of Books
“A symphony of beauty and heartbreak, survival and loneliness. Combined, it’s a haunting melody of nature.”—Winnipeg Free Press
"Riveting, imaginative, and encouraging."—Christian Science Monitor
“This is one of the most daring, deeply imagined and moving novels I have read. The writer asks us to consider a near-apocalyptic future, but, in prose that is beautiful and precise, Brooks-Dalton offers us hope that we are capable of remaking this world as a gentler and more generous-hearted place. Readers will not forget this beautiful book.”—Meredith Hall, Author of Beneficence
"I read this book in a whirlwind, voracious as the hurricanes at its heart. Lily Brooks-Dalton writes with the kind of intricate sensitivity that leaves one grateful to be—faultily, flimsily, adaptably, temporarily—human. Harrowing, tender, and urgent, The Light Pirate is a novel of global scope and exquisite intimacy."—Rachel Lyon, Author of Self-Portrait With Boy
"Lily Brooks-Dalton is an audacious, exquisite writer whose work pulses with humanity and hope. In The Light Pirate, her mesmerizing new novel, Brooks-Dalton achieves the impossible: she leaves us feeling grateful to be alive even as she describes, with pinpoint precision, the end of the world as we know it. Gripping, poetic, and wholly original, this book changed how I see the future. I’ll never forget it."—Jillian Medoff, Author of When We Were Bright and Beautiful
"This is fiction of rare and riveting achievement: it is equal parts prophecy, elegy, and revelation. The Light Pirate describes a world much like ours, one of rising seas and changing coastlines, and peers around the corner into the future to show us what awaits. How will human beings endure such loss? How will we mourn, and how will we persist? Lily Brooks-Dalton has captured the fragile beauty of our world, and our lives, with a tenderness that is both moving and galvanizing." —Anna Pitoniak, Author of Our American Friend
PRAISE FOR GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT:
"Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it’s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart.”—Colson Whitehead, New York Times bestselling author
"Fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora will appreciate Brooks-Dalton’s exquisite exploration of relationships in extreme environments."—Washington Post
"Brooks-Dalton writes beautifully about ambition, loss, grief, and, most compellingly, what it means to love and be loved."—Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star
"A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . This beautiful story reminds us of our deep longing for connection—with those we love, with strangers, with ourselves. We come to understand that, across time and distance, in the face of isolation and emptiness, it is tenderness and communication that keep us tethered to each other."—Keith Scribner, Author of Old Newgate Road
PRAISE FOR MOTORCYCLES I'VE LOVED:
"Lily Brooks-Dalton is wonderful, fresh on the scene with a big heart, a fierce spirit, a writer's eye, and a lovely sense of humor.”—Anne Lamott, New York Times bestselling author
"Lily Brooks-Dalton has blazed a trail all her own."—Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men