We Burn Daylight

We Burn Daylight

A Novel

About the Book

An epic novel of star-crossed lovers set in a doomsday cult on the Texas prairie that asks: What would you sacrifice for the person you love?

“Symphonic and suspenseful . . . In an epic act of empathy, Bret Anthony Johnston inhabits every point of view, from doomed devotees to perplexed law enforcement.”—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March

Waco, Texas, 1993. People from all walks of life have arrived to follow the Lamb’s gospel—signing over savings and pensions, selling their homes and shedding marriages. They’ve come here to worship at the feet of a former landscaper turned prophet who is preparing for the End Times with a staggering cache of weapons. Jaye’s mother is one of his newest and most devout followers, though Jaye herself has suspicions about the Lamb’s methods—and his motives.

Roy is the youngest son of the local sheriff, a fourteen-year-old boy with a heart of gold and a nose for trouble who falls for Jaye without knowing of her mother’s attachment to the man who is currently making his father’s life hell. The two teenagers are drawn to each other immediately and completely, but their love may have dire consequences for their families. The Lamb has plans for them all—especially Jaye—and as his preaching and scheming move them closer and closer to unthinkable violence, Roy risks everything to save Jaye.

Based on the true events that unfolded thirty years ago during the siege of the Branch Davidian compound, Bret Anthony Johnston’s We Burn Daylight is an unforgettable love story, a heart-pounding literary page turner, and a profound exploration of faith, family, and what it means to truly be saved.
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Praise for We Burn Daylight

“Symphonic and suspenseful, We Burn Daylight reimagines events at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. In an epic act of empathy, Bret Anthony Johnston inhabits every point of view, from doomed devotees to perplexed law enforcement, and even manages to infuse the tragedy with moments of poignant, very human, humor.”—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March

“I surrendered to this majestic novel—its masterly plot, its unbearably honest gaze upon very recent history, and its characters, as intricately and astonishingly human as can be—and flew through it in two days. It haunts me. A colossal achievement of We Burn Daylight is that it demands to be read in a breathless rush, and afterward, demands deepest and most private reflection.”—Megha Majumdar, New York Times bestselling author of A Burning

“With bravery and compassion, Bret Anthony Johnston takes on a watershed moment in American history, cutting through the myth and messiainism to reveal a story that is profoundly—and tragically—human.”—Cristina Henriquez, author of The Great Divide

“Fascinating characters and an engaging, authentic style give We Burn Daylight a fine shot at the Great American Novel sweepstakes. Few people can bring Texas to life on the page like Bret Anthony Johnston.”—Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends

“Yes, it is spellbinding. Yes, it is explosive. Yes, it is a must-read book. An ineffable work of fiction, We Burn Daylight is full of characters grappling with the ways loss and language and space and desire make it so hard to speak not to the loss but to each other. Simply put, Johnston’s novel is a triumph of a greatness so startlingly bright and attractive that, like our sun, you cannot help but stare at the very thing that sustains us but will also destroy us.”—Morgan Talty, bestselling author of Night of the Living Rez and Fire Exit: A Novel
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About the Author

Bret Anthony Johnston
Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Remember Me Like This and the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, and the editor of Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Paris Review, Thrasher Magazine, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and the Sunday Times Short Story Award, he was born and raised in Texas and is the director of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. More by Bret Anthony Johnston
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