I haven't read a school book this good since Big Nate Flips Out and To Kill a Mockingbird. Struck by Lightning stars a teenager named Carson Phillips (a name that I forgot more than once after I put the book down) who, unlike me, knows exactly what he wants to be: go to Northwestern University and leave his tedious and horrid school and town behind, away from his divorced and lonely mother and become the editor of The New Yorker, The Chicago-Sun Times…yeah, he likes to write a lot. So much so that he is the editor of their school's newspaper, The Chronicle. He's like the accomplished astronaut Chris Hadfield who stuck to his goal pretty much more than anyone. The only problem with Carson's dream is everyone thinks he's a freak because of it, except for his best and only friend Malerie, who is a great author but can't come up with anything original. Let's face it, if your school had a newspaper, who's going to read it? Even if you had a movie reviewer, which the Chronicle does, only adults read paper. Some teens don't even read at all and would rather spend the time helping Carson humiliate himself. One day, submissions for Northwestern come up, and Carson has to make a new one, and out of the choices, he decides to make a literary magazine. Do you know what a literary magazine is? I didn't either until I read this, and it sounds a little cool to me. What's Carson going to do to get people to write for his magazine? The only proper option possible: blackmail. Time to get even.
At first, I felt that Carson was kind of cynical about this situation, but then I stopped and thought about it (something I rarely do in a book), and I remembered how I was bullied pretty bad in sixth grade, so I think that it will be easier to get the message if you're being bullied. What I liked a lot about this book, though, is not just how funny it is. In fact, it made me laugh almost as much as Big Nate Flips Out. But how even if Carson doesn't have the same motivations, he can be very relatable. I heard that time that a woman came to a book signing with Richard Paul Evans, the Michael Vey author and said she loved him. He asked why and it was because of his books that kids began hanging around with her outcast son. I think Struck by Lightning has a very similar effect. There's also a lot of smart details about the life of school here, including this one that really got to me, when Carson said a boy hates him because he critiqued his performance in a school play once. That reminds me exactly of a time when I humiliated a friend in front of the entire school, saying "___ said "Shut up, Sky" or "None of your beeswax, you moron!" To this day, I can't help but sob about that, mostly because I found out a few days ago that she was imitating. Basically, reading this book is like being transported to another person's life entirely.
Funny, relatable and scientific on the human condition, Struck by Lightning is one of those rare books with an unforgettable spirit. I'm returning it on Monday to the I.E. Weldon library. I suggest you come get it.