Part of author Brit Lunden’s anthology about a mysterious town in Georgia called Bulwark, THE KNOWING is narrated chiefly as a flashback to the meeting and courtship of high school students JB Stratton and Ellie Bronson in the 1960s. He was the son of a poor peanut farmer, while she was from a wealthy family that moved to Bulwark from Connecticut. Their relationship unfolds like a fairy tale until JB is accepted to play football at the University of Alabama. They lose touch for several years, but Ellie is never far from JB’s mind. They are reunited in New York, where Ellie is living and JB is attending the NFL draft. This story is framed by a mysterious account of JB far in the future, living alone after Ellie’s death in a Bulwark that is increasingly riddled with strange supernatural events and phenomena.
The author’s characterization is skillful and multi-faceted as Lundun is flat-out a great writer. Encountering phrases like, “Those strange thoughts skittered around in his head like a squirrel in a maple tree,” and JB’s description of a clock’s shoddy mechanics that “made his diminutive steam up like a teapot” is a genuine pleasure. Though the book is told from JB’s perspective, the reader gets a solid sense of who the other characters are and what they value. Even JB’s father Leland is well-developed over just a few interactions with JB. Lunden uses dialect to excellent effect in this regard; Leland tells his son not to mention to others that he has been recruited by Alabama’s coach: “I hear one whiff of you braggin’ ’bout this, and you’re gonna be lookin’ for your teeth in yonder field.”
The book is named for the strange feeling JB gets the first time he sees Ellie—a feeling his grandmother called “the Knowing.” “It’s that feeling when you gonna meet your someone special,” he recalls her telling him. Indeed, JB and Ellie seem to have some cosmic connection, as JB frequently dreams of a past life in which he was an injured Civil War soldier and she rescued him from the battlefield. This, along with the other references to supernatural occurrences in Bulwark, imbue a hint of fantasy/science fiction in what would otherwise be typical teen romance fare, making the stakes of the plot more exciting. Also, Lunden leaves enough loose threads in the mystery of Bulwark to ensure readers will likely be clamoring for the next installment of the anthology.
THE KNOWING is a wonderfully written romance, a time-hopping supernatural mystery, and an all-around good time—a worthy addition to Brit Lunden’s Bulwark anthology.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader