The Light Pirate


But here it was: happening more quickly than anyone had anticipated. Florida, returning to herself. Swamps that had been dredged and drained and developed reappeared, bubbling back up to the surface in parking lots and on highways and in gated neighborhoods. Sinkholes opened up and swallowed entire blocks whole. Houses and roads and crops disappeared into the edges of the ever- encroaching wild.

The Light Pirate isn’t a book I would normally choose to read, but that’s the beauty of being in a book club… stepping outside one’s comfort zone. The only other dystopian books I’ve read are The Hunger Games and Divergent novels—this genre isn’t really my go-to. This book really had me thinking about what could happen in the future. My closest friends and I have long discussed what we would do if this country completely fell apart (even more than it already has). The plan is that we would build a compound and use our strengths to survive. I’ll be the resident chef.

I can’t image doing that alone like Wanda did. Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels gradually wreak havoc on the state’s infrastructure, Floridians are forced to abandon their homes and move to other states. The Lowe family clings to their home, bracing for each storm that rolls through. As the effects of climate change overwhelm America, we meet Wanda, a girl born during and named after a devastating hurricane. She must live alone in Florida’s mangrove swamps in harmony with nature as civilization crumbles. She reminds me of Kya Clark in Delia Owens’ masterpiece, Where the Crawdads Sing.

Lily Brooks-Dalton creates a believable picture of nature reclaiming Florida from its human inhabitants, and her complex and engaging characters make the story sing. Her novel is a story of survival, love, and loss, and there is a LOT of loss. Her depictions of nature gave me a bird’s-eye view of the climate and the struggles of survival. My husband, a science teacher who never reads for pleasure, would have been impressed and interested.

Now, I’m going to write something that other reviewers thought but didn’t express based on how they shelved this novel. The lesbian relationship at the end was out of left field and felt superfluous. There, I said it.

I tally over 100 books a year, and The Light Pirate probably has the most unique premise of any I’ve read. It is a treatise on climate change, exaggerated but still entertaining. The author had me thinking about living a simpler life and preparing for all contingencies. I want a big garden, so I won’t starve to death after the apocalypse; I won’t be eating rodents. Naturally, my husband better be with me… I am too much of a weenie to survive in such an environment. Reading this book made me second guess buying a snowbird condo in Florida to escape the Minnesota winters. I hope the Sunshine State isn’t reclaimed by nature anytime soon. 3.5 stars.

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