Review of “The Night the Lights Went Out” by Karen White

White, Karen. The Night the Lights Went Out. New York: Berkley, 2017. 

Hardcover | $26.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0451488381 | 406 pages | Women’s Fiction

5 stars

Most books tend to fall into two categories: light and feel-good or dark and angsty. Some that lean one way might incorporate some aspects of the other, but for the most part, books I’ve read tend to fall into one of these two categories. That is not the case with The Night the Lights Went Out, which presents a atmosphere of a sweet, fun Southern book with its opening pages, but as the book goes on, the sense that there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface, some of it sinister, began to creep up on me. I love how Karen White managed to provide a good balance of both those elements, keeping me in the moment, while also foreshadowing the darkness to come.

Merilee is a character I rooted for, and I like the exploration of the layers of her life, starting with her recent betrayal, and going back into dark past. She is flawed in that she is a bit naive, but her character growth and new understanding of who she can really trust is wonderful to read. I also enjoyed seeing the parallels between her story and Sugar’s. Both of their stories show the strength of the bonds between true friends who go through tough times together.

And once again, White’s gift with words shines through. My favorite moments, much to my surprise, given my initial aversion to Southern fiction, were the delightfully Southern blog entries, which appear throughout the book, dispensing wisdom and humor. These entries contain many great words to live by, regardless of where on Earth you’re located, and my favorite is from the last pages, speaking against the idea of getting revenge: “We shine instead of sparkle, we smile and bless their hearts instead of giving the finger.” (405)

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