Be Ready for the Lightning

Grace O'Connell's novel Be Ready for the Lightning is the story of a young woman dealing with family tension and finding bravery during a tense hostage situation.

Grace O'Connell

On the surface, Veda's life in Vancouver seems to be going just fine — at nearly 30, she has a good job, lifelong friends, and a close bond with her brother, Conrad. But Conrad's violent behaviour, a problem since he was a teen, is getting more and more serious, and Veda's ongoing commitment to watch out for him is pushing her to a breaking point. When Veda is injured as a bystander during one of Conrad's many fights, she knows it's time to leave Vancouver for a fresh start. She heads to New York, staying in the Manhattan apartment of old friends Al and Marie.

Exploring the city, she swings between feeling hopeful and lost — until one day the bus she's on is hijacked by a sweet-faced gun-toting man named Peter. He instructs Veda and the other passengers to spray paint the bus windows black, and what ensues is a gripping and unpredictable hostage situation, the outcome of which will make Veda question everything she knows about herself and the nature of fear. (From Random House of Canada)


Grace O'Connell on her latest novel, where she explores troubled family dynamics and a crisis situation with life-changing results. 2:59
Grace O'Connell, the author of "Be Ready for the Lightning," on why she rereads The Deptford Trilogy ("Fifth Business," "The Manticore" and "World of Wonders") by Robertson Davies. 1:39