Is there ever a right time and place for love?
Can one ever tell when or where it will strike?
Can the love of a man win over the loathing of his country?
You never know where or when lightning will strike, but when it happens on a trip back to Kenya to bury your parents you know the timing isn’t great.
Mel has spent the past 14 years resenting her parents for abandoning her at a boarding school in England while they went back to Kenya, a country she had come to hate, to run an orphanage and school for their charity. A tragic accident forces her to return to Kamuti for her parents’ funeral, forcing her to face her fear of flying and hatred for the place which has now stolen her parents from her for good. But meeting the people who meant so much to her parents and above all the gorgeous, England-educated Sam was not part of the plan.
Finding her mother’s diaries reveals a lot of unanswered questions and the discovery of a detailed itinerary of a trip round Kenya that her parents dreamed of making with her makes Mel realise that maybe she has had things wrong all these years.
Will taking the trip help her find her answers? Will visiting the most beautiful and memorable locations of the land make her fall in love with the man, the country, neither or both?
When Mel discovers the ultimate painful secret about her past and loses her job as a teacher at a posh girls’ school, she has one final choice to make – as they say lightening only strikes once.
Welcome to my stop on the Catching Lightning blog tour – thank you so much to Chicks That Read for organising and including me in this blog tour.
Mel’s grown up as a very independent woman, having boarded since the age of twelve when her parents moved back to Kenya. With a paralysing fear of flying, Mel refused to join them there or even to visit, and had to suffice with the couple of times a year her parents were able to make it back to the UK.
She’s coming to the end of the Summer term at the school she works out, and ready to welcome her parents to stay for three weeks, when disaster strikes and Mel has no choice but to face her fears and travel to the country she has spent most of her life hating and envying for her parents decision all those years ago.
What she didn’t expect was to begin to see the magic of Africa that her parents had fallen in love with. From the selfless teachers and helpers of the charity, to the beautiful children who are so eager to learn, she learns there is so much more to Kenya than the dust, dirt and creepy crawlies she’s always remembered it by.
Once I got into the story, I was thrilled to be joining Mel on her journey, as she discovered the truth about her past and her family. Catching Lightning is a beautiful story about that explores the extreme strengths that can be found in people – strength to love and to heal, but also to hurt the ones we care about. We watch Mel go through the whole spectrum of emotions, as people generally do when grieving, but when her relationship with her parents was so filled with bitterness, regret, and – as she now discovers – secrets, pain and confusion, it really is a difficult time for her. Throw in the growing intimacy between her and Sam and it complicates things all the more, and finds her overrun with guilt – if something were to happen, would she be disrespecting her parents and her grief? Or was it fate’s grand plan for her to find comfort in a time of great need?
Another thing that cannot go unmentioned, are the wonderful supporting characters. Kerry, an Essex girl who works with the charity and befriends Mel on arrival was truly a wonderful character, who I instantly warmed to. She added a great humour to the story, and instantly lifted the atmosphere of the scenes she was in. Wendy, Mel’s best friend since they were 12, was equally wonderful, and I loved their relationship – the kind that is only earned after being best friends for many years, and growing up together. The whole story was filled with intrigue although I’d had a sneaky suspicion of what was going on from early in the book, the whole plot was excellently executed and beautifully written.
There’s two little things that have stopped me rating this book as 5*, as it was otherwise excellent. Firstly, I found the story quite slow to begin with and a little hard to get into, but once I did I couldn’t have been more captivated. Also, some of the writing of speech, particularly early on in the book, felt a little stagnant. It felt like I was reading someones writing, if that makes any sense, it didn’t feel like natural speech – simple things really like the lack of use of contractions such as it’s, wouldn’t, can’t etc – when these aren’t used the speech came across as a little formal and unnatural – especially for characters such as Kerry, an Essex girl. For me, this took away some believability of otherwise wonderful characters, and made it more difficult to relate to them. However, this really was mainly nearer the start I felt this, and as I continued it flowed much more easily, so it is still so very worth reading.
I highly recommend Katie Stephen’s beautiful and original story of self-discovery and the power of relationships and love.
Katie’s love of creative writing started at school and as well as writing short stories she found great enjoyment in writing poetry. While primarily writing for friends and family, she has had two poems published in anthologies plus a number of others in event programmes and in-house publications.
In 2008 Katie decided it was time to take her writing up a level and started on a Creative Writing course. During the course she found not only the inspiration but also the confidence to take her writing seriously. Her first completed book was born from a piece of homework on her course. She spends any spare time she can find sat at her computer and writing and sees this as her escape time.
For the past 18 years Katie has worked in PR, firstly in agency then in-house. While in agency she dealt with consumer PR and Sports Sponsorship, working on music retail, homebuilders, mobile telephony and fashion as well as the England Cricket Teams. During this time she ended up working on events such as the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party and touring with the England Women’s cricket team. Since 2002 Katie has worked in-house for The AA – the motoring one rather than the alcoholics.
Working in PR Katie is able to mix her love of writing and creativity with her career.
Connect with Katie Stephens