Lightning Song

Set on a llama ranch in Mississippi, this coming-of-age novel has plenty of off-kilter characters but nothing truly disturbing: no incestuous rapes, no misfit killers. Leroy Dearman, 12 years old, stumbles on important truths — his parents have sexual longings, and not always for each other; Playboy contains some interesting photographs; baton twirling may be the highest art form known to history; and one can survive anything, even being struck by lightning. Lewis Nordan’s sense of life’s not-so-ordinary events makes Lightning Song flow evenly. A-