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Extended Audio Sample The Bright Forever: A Novel Audiobook, by Lee Martin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.39 out of 53.39 out of 53.39 out of 53.39 out of 53.39 out of 5 3.39 (36 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lee Martin Narrator: Susan Denaker, Bo Foxworth, Kirby Heyborne, Leonardo Leoncavallo Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2005 ISBN: 9781415920428
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On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books.

This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever. Keeping fact, speculation, and contradiction playing off one another as the details unfold, author Lee Martin creates a fast-paced story that is as gripping as it is richly human. His beautiful, clear-eyed prose builds to an extremely nuanced portrayal of the complicated give and take among people struggling to maintain their humanity in the shadow of a loss.

Reminiscent of books such as The Little Friend and The Lovely Bones, but most memorable for its own perceptions and power, The Bright Forever is a compelling and emotional tale about the human need to know even the hardest truth.

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Quotes & Awards

  • With what consummate skill Lee Martin conjures up a small town in the grip of tragedy and how deftly he explores the way in which a casual remark, a brief kiss, a white lie can have the most terrible consequences. The Bright Forever is a remarkable and almost unbearably suspenseful novel. Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona and Eva Moves the Furniture
  • Lee Martin’s The Bright Forever goes deep into the mystery of being alive on this earth. Written in the clearest prose, working back and forth over its complex story, and told in the dark, desperate, vivid voices of its various speakers, it holds you spellbound to the end, to its final, sad revelations. Kent Haruf, author of Eventide and Plainsong
  • Like Winesburg, Ohio, The Bright Forever captures, in alternating voices, the individual acts of desperation that lead to a community’s sorrow. And, like Sherwood Anderson, Lee Martin is not happy to let guilt reside singularly or simply. This is a morally complex quilt, a page-turner that also insists on the reader’s participation in moral contemplation. Antonya Nelson, author of Female Trouble and Talking in Bed
  • I read The Bright Forever in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. Part Mystic River, part Winesburg, Ohio, this harrowing and beautiful book is one of the most powerful novels I’ve read in years and heralds the breakout of a remarkable talent. Bret Lott, author of A Song I Knew by Heart and Jewel
  • The Bright Forever will get under your skin with its exquisite psychology and fine-tuned suspense. Lee Martin has created a world of aching beauty and terrible loss. Jean Thompson, author of City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder
  • The Bright Forever is ravishing. . . . Lee Martin’s characters, dear readers, are us—riven and bedeviled, our souls gone grainy and rank, our hearts busted and beating heavily for love. We have Martin to thank for having the moral courage—yes, an old-fashioned but rare virtue—to tell it to us plain. Lee K. Abbott, author of Living After Midnight

  • A Featured Alternate of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club
  • A 2006 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peggy Walker | 2/19/2014

    " Evidently, this book was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, which surprised me somewhat. The town and locals of that era were painted very well, and I could see the "light" and feel the heat of the days covered by the story. The story is told by several narrators, and each has a recognizable voice, and they tell the story well. There is some jumping around in time, but it is still easy to follow. It illustrates how one tiny thing...Gilley tattling that his sister didn't return her library books...can trigger a whole series of events. However, there wasn't going to be a good outcome in this situation. Obsession rarely has a good end. It was a good read, but not as spectacular as I might have expected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie Mengel | 2/17/2014

    " I found myself wanting the book to hurry up and get to the ending...I seemed to be impatient to let it all unravel- so it took me awhile to get through because I kept putting it down; however, I did think it was a well written novel. There were many lines in the story that I found myself thinking that it was good writing and that it was honest. I liked the intricate parts that were woven into the story about the different characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 2/12/2014

    " I enjoyed reading this book. Great to get so many perspectives on life in a small southern town. Lots of topics you could discuss in book club. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ladyjexie | 1/28/2014

    " Artfully combines morality, psychology and suspense. Beautifully written "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenny | 1/25/2014

    " I knew what would happen; I knew how it would end, but it was like a horrible car accident that I had to see play itself out. I really disliked this book and am not happy I read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 1/25/2014

    " The kidnapping of a 9 year old girl is a compelling story to begin with and how Lee Martin sets up the story and having the characters narrating their own accounts makes the reader second guess constantly who done it. I found some sweetness in the novel, especially Katie playing and Clare's hope for love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Warner | 1/23/2014

    " This is a tough subject, but Mr. Martin made it impossible for me to look away. As a writer, I found his handling of multiple points of view masterful. He fit them (1st and 3rd) together seamlessly, moving back and forth as the story progressed. Not a book I can say I loved, but one which I can admire for the craft and the way characters were gradually revealed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gordonclan5 | 1/19/2014

    " Absolutely frightening. Well written but not to read if you happen to have a nine year old girl at the time. After you read, you'll understand why. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 jeanette | 1/19/2014

    " this was a very good book, but sad. it is written from several characters point of view, kinda of like jodi picoult does. i would be happy to pass it along if anyone is interested. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 12/5/2013

    " A sad tale. Very thought-provoking. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tammy | 11/12/2013

    " The author was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for this book but I have no idea why because I didn't enjoy it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 9/14/2013

    " This book starts sluggishly, but then picks up steam. When I finished it, I thought it was interesting, but nothing special. However, it's continued to haunt me and does make you think about the gray area between good and evil. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cassie | 9/8/2013

    " I was disturbed by this story - the characters were brutally honest, and it was certainly brutal most of the time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shirley | 8/18/2013

    " A Pulitzer Prize finalist, this mystery has several narrators, but which are reliable? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 6/10/2013

    " I read this book for a book club, and must have really liked it because I read another Martin book. Again, my memory fades fast. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 4/6/2013

    " This turned out to be a really good book. By the end I couldn't put it down! It's a very similar plot line to "Lovely Bones" and worth the read. I'm meeting the author in a book discussion on March 11 and then I am happy to share my copy with whomever wants to read it next! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mandy | 3/6/2013

    " I couldn't put this book down and read in a few days. Very suspenseful and heartbreaking. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brooke | 3/5/2013

    " Can't not finish a book but this is one I wished I had just put down and not wasted my time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meredith | 1/31/2013

    " Compelling and hard to put down. I finished it in two days. Would certainly recommend. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stella Craine | 8/14/2012

    " This one creeped me out. Well written, but a very uncomfortable content. I finished the book, but it was like watching a train wreck. Author leaves nothing to wonder upon conclusion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 brook | 7/26/2012

    " i read this right after case histories and it just didn't stack up. overall it's a good read and a very sad story. i chose it as a summer read last year. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelley | 5/29/2012

    " One of my favorite books. Great use of different points of view to tell a story. Sad subject matter but very intriguing and well written. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julia | 5/22/2012

    " Well, this was probably the worst book I have ever read. Truly disappointing--I threw it in the trash upon finishing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sunni 30 Silent Mockingbirds | 4/14/2011

    " interestingly written but HATE HATE HATED the book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 4/11/2011

    " Excellent book. I knew as soon as I read the first sentence I would be hooked and I was. Engaging characters and good storytelling make this a must read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 4/9/2011

    " I liked this book and the unique style of writing. With having children the same age as Katie, it was difficult to read the book and separate my own life. I liked the chapters written from the perspective of the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 4/6/2011

    " really liked it. very well written and keeps you guessing. also very heartbreaking, but still very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pamela | 3/20/2011

    " I liked the book. The writing style is different - it goes back and forth between characters giving their perspective. Lots of suspense and I still have questions. Well-written. I'll be reading more of Martin's efforts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katiemariec | 3/19/2011

    " Captivating. Couldn't put it down! A must read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 3/7/2011

    " That is a few hours I will never get back - horrible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 3/3/2011

    " Difficult to put down. Same tragedy unfolds as in The Lovely Bones but much finer writing. Easy to see why this was a Pulitzer finalist. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barb | 2/20/2011

    " Not the type of book I usually read. Got it from a friend who said it reminded her somewhat of the Lovely Bones in tone, and I would agree. It kept me interested all the way through, but it is somewhat dark. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 holly | 1/7/2011

    " great story but i wanted a surprise ending and it was pretty much what i thought would happen. great characters though. enjoyed it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ann | 12/31/2010

    " I didn't really enjoy this book, but I had to finish it. I usually read books that are fun, romantic, etc....and this was definitely the opposite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 12/31/2010

    " confusing, but very good "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 12/31/2010

    " A sad tale. Very thought-provoking. "

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About the Narrators

Susan Denaker is an actress and Earphones Award–winning narrator. Her extensive theater credits include numerous plays in the West End of London, national tours, many English rep companies, including a season with Alan Ayckbourn’s company in Scarborough. In the US, she has appeared in Our Town and Sweet Bird of Youth at the La Jolla Playhouse and Breaking Legs at the Westport Playhouse.

Kirby Heyborne is a musician, actor, and professional narrator. Noted for his work in teen and juvenile audio, he has garnered twenty-two Earphones Awards. His audiobook credits include Jesse Kellerman’s The Genius, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, and George R. R. Martin’s Selections from Dreamsongs.