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Heat & Light
Heat & Lightcerlanson (8)
Thoughts on Shelby?

The incredible way Jennifer Haigh gave every character in the book life was enthralling to read! The characters all grew so organically (oddly enough as their world was polluted), that I felt Haigh gave the reader an opportunity to actually get to know each person. Getting to know Shelby drove me insane! As all the other characters unfolded, for better or worse, I enjoyed reading about how their lives unfolded. With Shelby I just wanted to scream half the time!

sarahlizzw (5)
Shelby is one of the more unlikable characters in the book for sure, and I think the fact that she's typically characterized like a child contributes to that. But I also think the very short backstory of her sister dying of cancer (something she didn't even tell her husband) contributes to that a lot. Maybe she's stuck in the past in that sense, and it sort of takes away a bit of the blame in terms of the hypochondriac way she treats Olivia. As for her dalliance with Wes, I think I can understand that. That part didn't make her unlikable to me. It made her more human. Wanting something more than the hardened temperamental husband she had at home. But even as unlikable or as frustrating as readers might find her, she's certainly one of the more complex. I also agree that the way Haigh so thoroughly gave each of the characters a unique stories where you felt connected with their thoughts and struggles was simply stunning.
cerlanson (8)
Interesting... I see what you are saying. I think the part that I found really hard to read about her was how she found a bit (albeit regrettable) joy at her sister's funeral because she got to be the one getting the attention. And then to see her as an adult vying for attention via her kids made me want someone to force her into real therapy. In general I think I took everything everyone did a little more to heart than normal because of Haigh's ability to make them all so real! So happy you enjoyed the book too!!
sarahlizzw (5)
Yes, perhaps some therapy from someone whose husband she has not tried to have sex with.
cerlanson (8)
Ha! Yes for sure!
Heat & LightLeigh Haber (32)
DISCUSS WITH US

Do you like fiction that takes on real problems that people confront every day, or do you prefer novels that have less realism?

PurpleHippoMama (6)
I really enjoy novels that explore contemporary issues. Reading such novels help me see both sides of the issues in a very human way.
sarahlizzw (5)
I like both. I think it's important to read a variety of novels that include different subjects, people, cultures, etc. However, this book was definitely made more interesting by the fact that for the most part, it's not a historical novel. These things are happening now and people are dealing with them at a personal and emotional level. I thought the balance between the personal struggles and stories of each character and the overarching theme of environmentalism vs. big business was perfect. Additionally, I thought the last two pages were two of the most beautifully written things I've seen.
Meran (40)
Is there a reason my posts aren't coming up? I've posted three times on this book, yet they aren't shown here. I'm trusting this one will come thru ????
mojostdennis (2)
I usually don't like super-realistic novels at all. I'm not really sure why I ordered Heat and Light, to be honest -- it is not my type of thing and the description didn't really appeal to me, but it has SUCH a high rating on Goodreads that I felt like I had to try it. And I'm loving it so far! I have about 100 pages left and it has me wondering what the characters are doing every time I put it down, which is the sign of a really good book (I think).
Reensters (3)
The characters in this book were definitely very likable and very hate-able, which made it very true to life. I found myself rooting for some (i screamed when they were at the drive-in theater and he used again), and others I shrugged and said, "karma." Normally I stray away from realistic books, as I read to "get away from reality," but "how the country changes topics (railroads, mining, abandoned buildings, etc) is really in my wheelhouse. One of my friends' grandmother lived in an old mining town which shut down operations in the middle of the night. After each holiday dinner, we would go over to the mining area, climb in the holes, and climb this HUGE crane that was still there. The second I saw what this book was about, I had to get it. It is one of only 2 books I gave a 5 stars to on goodreads. Great read.
ernby (2)
I felt the same. I almost skipped this month, but something drew me to log back in and pick this book. I am so, so glad I did. I'm about 100 pages from finished, as well, and I've really enjoyed this book. I almost don't want it to end. I've really enjoyed the different perspectives from the characters.
jesserie44 (1)
Personally, I like both, but I have to be in the mood to take on serious topics. So far (I'm a bit less than halfway) this is reminding me of Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior," both in its (realistic) depiction of small-town dynamics, and in its unobtrusive introduction to a polarizing subject. Really nicely written so far, am looking forward to the rest!
Heat & LightLeigh Haber (32)
DISCUSS WITH US

In reading the book, did you find all the background about fracking interesting, or distracting?

PurpleHippoMama (6)
Interesting -- and appalling!
thepoisoneddart (1)
I honestly felt as though there wasn't enough talk about fracking. I was really disinterested in the sordid details of everyone's past. While I enjoyed the concentration on the fracking effects on real people, I found it so distracting to hear about who was cheating with who. In the end, it seemed like everyone was explained too little and almost all the characters were unlikable. I was rooting for no one at all. And what a disappointing ending. It wasn't a triumphant or even informative story. The fracking was a backdrop to a soap opera. Further, the writing began as engrossing and well put together but by the end I was trudging through this book. It could have been so much more than it ended up being and it made me continually angry. While I see why the book is liked =, I have to say it is truly one of the biggest letdowns I've had in a while.
sarahlizzw (5)
The reason I selected this book was BECAUSE of the background of fracking. It's a word that's thrown around in the media with little to no explanation. So I chose this book to start me in a path to get a little more interested in the subject and then did independent research. But the book centers around fracking and its personal and social effects on the characters and groups in this book so rather than distracting, background information seems necessary.
ghines (9)
I found it interesting. It was enough to give some basics, but not so much to distract or seem to technical. Admittedly, I work in the environmental field, so a lot of the references are very familiar to me to begin with. There were a few times I wondered how someone unfamiliar would feel. I did notice the random acronym drop that seemed to come out of nowhere. I know DEP meant Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, but I thought that might be troubling or confusing for others.
Reensters (3)
I found it interesting, and found I would bring up my macbook and look up more information on the subject. I'm very well versed in the disaster at Chernobyl, but 3 mile island, though I live 5 hours from it, I'm not as familiar with. If anything, I'm definitely more aware.
ernby (2)
A little of both. It was interesting in the sense that I found myself, at several occasions, putting the book down and looking up information (for example, about Three Mile Island and the Iran Hostages crisis--this made me think about Argo, as well). I really appreciate that the book caused me to think about things beyond just the book. At the same time, though, I found myself wanting to read more of what the characters were doing and thinking. Overall, I think it was a good balance. (So far, anyway! I'm not yet finished).
Heat & LightLeigh Haber (32)
DISCUSS WITH US

Do you recall the novels of Sinclair Lewis? Do you agree that like his novels, Heat and Light is a "social novel"?

sarahlizzw (5)
I've actually never read anything by Lewis, but am familiar with them and their content. I think that Heat and Light is definitely a social novel, it's addressing a topic that is in the news NOW. That is controversial NOW, and giving people a unique perspective of everyone from the CEO of the big business to people who now feel their hard earned land has been stolen from them. I think more people should read this book, or at least be aware of its existence as this seems to be a social and environmental issue that is not going away, is becoming part of campaign platforms, and is now being considered in other countries, ie. The UK.