About the book
The Year the Lights Came On is Terry Kay’s evocative tale of Colin Wynn, an eleven-year-old boy growing up in rural northeast Georgia. The year is 1947, and in Colin’s hometown of Emery, Route 17 divides the community into the haves and the have-nots—those with and without electricity. This boundary creates a common bond among Colin and the other members of the Our Side Gang in their frequent confrontations with their affluent neighbors, the Highway 17 Gang. But then the Rural Electrification Administration brings electricity to the homes of the less privileged and Colin boasts that the wires will “knit us into the fabric of the huge glittering costume, Earth.”
Drawing upon his own memories of growing up in Royston, Georgia, Kay follows Colin, his brother Wesley, and their friends through fierce battles fought on the school playground, an exhilarating visit to the Brady Dasher Flying Circus, desperate attempts to throw a search party off the trail in the Black Pool Swamp, and gleeful celebrations when all-important baseball games are won. With characters ranging from Reverend Bartholomew R. Bytheway, a reformed fertilizer salesman who operates the Speaking-In-Tongues Traveling Tent Tabernacle, to Freeman, a Georgian Huck Finn who knows the swamp as well as the other boys know their backyards, Terry Kay draws a marvelously nuanced portrait of the rural South poised on the brink of change.
About the author
Terry Kay is the author of nine novels: The Year the Lights Came On (1976), After Eli (1981), Dark Thirty (1984), To Dance with the White Dog (1991), Shadow Song (1997), The Runaway (1998), The Kidnapping of Aaron Greene (1999), Taking Lottie Home (2000), and The Valley of Light (2003). He is also the author of one collection of short essays, Special Kay: The Wisdom of Terry Kay, and To Whom the Angels Spoke: A Story of the Christmas. In 2004 he was awarded both the Best Fiction Award from the Georgia Writers Association and the Townsend Prize for The Valley of Light. Kay, who was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2006, lives in Athens, Georgia.