Anna Brinkman meets her ten-year-old granddaughter Flynn when the girl appears on her doorstep, desperate for a love more steadfast than any she has received from her parents. She meets Jack when he shows up in an AIDS support group she is running and does his best to get kicked out. What ensues in a house on the coast of Maine will be the great journey of all their lives. Filled with humor, sadness, and wisdom, Above the Thunder is a magical achievement.
Renée Manfredi makes a first-class debut with this highly acclaimed work of literary fiction. At the center of the novel is Bostonian Anna Brinkman, a widow in her 50s, who is a successful medical technologist and academic. Anna's life is turned upside-down after Poppy, her heroin-addict daughter, phones from Alaska and asks to visit. When Poppy's husband arrives instead, looking for help in raising their 10-year-old daughter, Flynn, Anna is pushed to her limit. As a mentor for an AIDS support group, she has other worries to contend with, including her growing attachment to an HIV-positive patienta young homosexual named Jack. Making all of this bearable for Anna is the presence of her granddaughter. An extraordinarily sharp little girl with a wild imagination and a quick mind, Flynn charms everyone around her. In the end, it is Flynn's remarkable spirit that redeems Anna in the midst of her trials, inspiring her to form a unique family of her own, along with Jack. Manfredi, who was named one of Granta's best American novelists under the age of 40, writes about complex medical issues like AIDS with poise and confidence. With Above the Thunder, she has created an exceptional novel about hope, loyalty and the meaning of family. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.readinggroupcenter.com.