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Lily Brooks-Dalton’s ‘The Light Pirate’ takes readers by storm, makes climate change personal

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s new book is titled "The Light Pirate"
Lily Brooks-Dalton’s new book is titled "The Light Pirate"

We often think about climate change in the abstract — an existential threat to the planet, but not one that affects our everyday lives. Author Lily Brooks-Dalton shatters that concept in her newest novel, “The Light Pirate,” which makes climate disaster a riveting and intensely personal experience.

As the novel opens, a catastrophic storm named Wanda is headed for the Florida coast. Emergency lineman Kirby Lowe and his pregnant wife, Frida, decide not to evacuate — a decision that ends up costing the family dearly. Frida gives birth to a girl who is named for the killer storm. The rest of the novel relates the path of Wanda’s life as global warming continues to damage and eventually destroy the world as we know it.

The book is told in four parts: power, water, light and time. Brooks-Dalton’s atmospheric writing envelops you in this all-too-believable dystopian future, where coastlines disintegrate and residents scramble to relocate or find ways to cope. One neighbor, Phyllis, a retired biologist who has prepped for climate disaster, cares for Wanda and teaches her survival skills.

The novel has been compared to “Station Eleven” and “Where the Crawdads Sing.” There’s also a touch of magical realism, as Wanda discovers her supernatural connection with the emerging ecosystem. Brooks-Dalton shows the terrifying future that might await us, but also how humans can come together to adapt and thrive.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.