NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the award-winning author a "powerful and emotionally piercing" novel (The New York Times) set during the 1950 in West Virginia and Korea, that intertwines family secrets, war, dreams, and ghosts in a story about the love that unites us all.
Lark and Termite is a rich, wonderfully alive novel about seventeen year old Lark and her brother, Termite, living in West Virginia in the 1950s. Their mother, Lola, is absent, while their aunt, Nonie, raises them as her own, and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, is caught up in the early days of the Korean War.
Told with deep feeling, the novel invites us deep into the hearts and thoughts of Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk, who is filled with radiance. We are also with Corporal Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire alongside the Korean children he tries to rescue. We see Lark’s dreams for Termite and her own future, and how, with the aid of a childhood love and a spectral social worker, she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and her children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie.
We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed forever.
From Phillips (Motherkind; Shelter) comes a long-awaited and wonderful coming-of-age tale of grief and survival. The story straddles a parallel six-day period in July, one in 1959 during which 17-year-old Lark; her brother, Termite, who can't talk; and their aunt and caretaker, Nonie, are struggling to balance hope and despair in smalltown West Virginia and nine years earlier, when Termite's father, Robert Leavitt, serves a tour in Korea. Lark, living with her aunt without knowing who her father is or why her mother gave her up, was nine years old when baby Termite landed on their doorstep. Nonie works long hours at a local restaurant to support the hodgepodge family, leaving Lark to take over mothering duties, but as Lark finishes secretarial school and realizes how limited the options are for her and Termite, forces of nature and odd individuals shed light on mysteries of the past and lend a hand in steering the next course of action. Through Robert and Nonie's stories and by exposing the innermost thoughts of each character, Phillips creates a wrenching portrait of devotion while keeping the suspense at a palpitating level.