It's 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The First World War is raging
and the Halifax Harbour is bustling with activity. For twelve-year-old
Livy and her fifteen-year-old brother Will, life goes on in spite
of anti-German prejudice and the rumours surrounding their German-born
On the morning of December 6, Will is following
his usual routine while Livy finds herself in a most unusual situation.
Before she can get out of it, the unthinkable happens. A flash
of light, thunder rolling underground and, in an instant, an explosion
that changes their world forever. What caused it? Who was to blame?
How do the survivors even begin to rebuild their shattered lives?
Story Behind the Story
When I was in my early teens, my dad gave me a book
called Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan. It was a gripping
account of the Halifax Explosion, a disaster that was also a family
story: my future grandfather, a teenager at the time, had been in Halifax
on that fateful day. Fortunately, he survived. And I became hooked on
anything that had to do with the events of December 6, 1917.
During a visit to Halifax in the early 1990s, I spent
time in the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia to find out more about
the Explosion. Three subsequent visits led to more research and interviews
and the writing of No Safe Harbour for Scholastic's Dear Canada
series. I figured the Explosion would be out of my system by thenafter
all, it's not the most cheerful of subjectsbut I still wanted
to write about it. This time, I wanted a stand-alone book that explored
the topic from a different point of view and examined such issues as
social class, blame and prejudice, as well as the unlikely human bonds
that arise in times of tragedy.
Lawson's nuanced telling keeps us on edge,
hoping moment by moment that her characters will survive against
the odds .… Not a detail is wasted; nothing feels untrue or fabricated….
Lawson's economy in creating a layered and utterly convincing
story makes it appealing to readers of all ages. The War and its
climate of anti-German hysteria form a subtle backdrop, raised
by the mystery that surrounds Ernst Schneider'sLivy and
Will's German-born father'sdeath at sea. Suspicions around
his activities dramatize the paranoia that arose at the time about
German nationals being spies, amid rumours that Germans caused
the Explosion. At the inquiry that soon followed the disaster,
the urge to lay blame and find scapegoats adds further tension
to Livy and Will's story in this thoughtful interweaving of fiction
Atlantic Books Today
A wonderful and beautifully written novel.
The appealing main characters, emotional realism and searing descriptions
make this dramatic event immediate and unforgettable."
Kit Pearson, Winner of the Governor-General's
Award for Children's Literature
to Buy this book
A Blinding Light is available:
1. at your local bookstore or children's bookstore.
2. by placing an order with your local bookstore or online bookseller.
3. directly from the publisher, Nimbus
4. as an e-book from many e-book sellers.
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