The Lightning Circle

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Pub Date Mar 26 2024 | Archive Date Mar 26 2024


An intimate coming-of age novel for teens, told in verse with delicate line art, chronicling the beauty, magic and transformative power of summer camp, for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Judy Blume.

After having her heart broken, seventeen-year-old Nora Nichols decides to escape her hometown and take a summer job as an arts and crafts counsellor at an all-girls' camp in the mountains of West Virginia. There, she meets girls and women from all walks of life with their own heartaches and triumphs. Immersed in this new camp experience, trying to form bonds with her fellow counselors while learning to be a trusted adviser for her campers, Nora distracts herself from her feelings, even during the intimate conversations around the nightly campfires. But when a letter from home comes bearing unexpected news, Nora finds inner strength in her devastation with the healing power of female friendship. Presented as Nora's camp journal, including Nora's sketches of camp life, scraps of letters, and spare poems, The Lightning Circle is an intimate coming-of-age portrait.
An intimate coming-of age novel for teens, told in verse with delicate line art, chronicling the beauty, magic and transformative power of summer camp, for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Judy Blume.


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ISBN 9781774882498
PRICE CA$23.99 (CAD)

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Featured Reviews

This book is a captivating journey of sisterhood and self-discovery. "The Lightning Circle" by Vikki VanSickle takes readers to the heart of the Appalachian wilderness, where whispers of ancient magic linger among the pine trees, 17-year-old Nora Nichols seeks solace. Her heart still bears the jagged edges of a recent breakup, and she arrives at Camp Cradle Rock, which is a secluded all-girls camp in West Virginia, with the hope of healing and renewal. Little does she know that the camp's mystical traditions will weave their way into her very soul.

Nora's journey unfolds through the pages of her journal, a tender and raw exploration of emotions. The Lightning Circle, a sacred gathering spot, beckons her. Six young women, fellow counsellors, form a bond that transcends mere friendship. They share secrets, fears, and dreams, passing them from hand to hand like the electric charge of a lightning bolt. Each poem in this free-verse narrative paints a vivid picture of their collective experience.

I enjoyed many themes in this book. Let’s talk about the sisterhood and empowerment! The Lightning Circle is more than a physical place; it's a sanctuary for feminine wisdom. Vikki VanSickle masterfully captures the essence of sisterhood—the way it uplifts, heals, and empowers. These young women, diverse in their backgrounds, find strength in their shared vulnerability. Their stories intertwine, revealing the beauty of collective self-transformation.

Nora's journal entries breathe life into the natural world. She writes of shells, mountains, rivers, trees, and horses. Each description is a brushstroke on the canvas of memory. We taste the sticky sweetness of watermelon rinds, feel the grass beneath our bare feet, and hear the rustle of leaves. The campfire crackles, and the moonlight dances on the lake. Through Nora's eyes, we rediscover the magic of the outdoors.

The counsellors grapple with their own struggles. One reveals an eating disorder in the poignant poem "The Recovery Position." Another comforts a homesick camper, while yet another navigates the complexities of fitting in socially. These moments of vulnerability are woven into the fabric of camp life, emphasizing that healing is a collective endeavour.

VanSickle's free-verse poetry is accessible and evocative. The diction mirrors teenage voices, making it relatable to readers of all ages. The imagery is vivid, nostalgic, and infused with campfire warmth. Laura K. Watson's delicate illustrations accompany each poem, capturing the essence of the characters and their surroundings.

"The Lightning Circle" is an enchanting ode to girlhood, resilience, and the transformative power of shared experiences. VanSickle invites us to sit in that sacred circle, to feel the pulse of connection, and to emerge with hearts alight. This book is a luminous read and is a reminder that healing often comes when we gather, listen, and hold space for one another.

In Nora's words, "this magical space" becomes a beacon of hope, a testament to the strength found in vulnerability. VanSickle's novel is a gift, a lightning bolt that ignites our own circles of sisterhood. Don't miss this luminous tale; it will leave you with a heart full of wonder and a longing for campfires under star-studded skies.

Thank you to NetGalley Penguin Random House Canada, and Tundra Books for a temporary e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Came for the friendship bracelets and campfires and was absolutely not disappointed. I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy.

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Nora has run away from her life to be a camp counselor for a summer. She finds healing and sisterhood.

This is a story, but written in verse and highlights girl/womanhood. We can lift each other up to amazing heights and occasionally tear each other (or ourselves) down to low lows.

It made me nostalgic for the girlfriends of my teens years and the incredible bond we had.

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