Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 2011
Genre/Sub-genre: Women's Fiction
Year/Setting: Present day, Washington State
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild/Moderate
Violent Content Rating: Moderate/Intense
Kristin's Website/Blog: www.kristinhannah.com
The master of family drama and beauty who brought us unforgettable titles like Firefly Lane and Winter Garden returns with this amazingly dramatic, beautiful look at friendship, love, lost souls, and the tragedies that can happen even in the best of families.
The first character we meet is a fourteen-year-old girl by the name of Lexi Baill. Lexi is one of those unfortunate, heartbreaking young girls who are stuck in the system. She's been in foster care most of her life experiencing seven homes in five years. Although some of the families she's been placed into were kind, Lexi's mother always reappeared and got the judge to give her Lexi back - as she promised again and again that she'd kicked the drug habit and wanted nothing more than to prove she can be a real mom. Unfortunately, this real mom passed away in front of Lexi, high on heroine. When Lexi is told that she actually has real family and that there is a great Aunt out there in Washington State named Eva Lange who wants to house and feed Lexi and give her a normal life, the young girl can hardly believe it. She's overwhelmed that there's actually someone in this world who could, perhaps, show her the love and kindness that she's never had.
Off to Washington State Lexi goes. When she steps off the bus under the steel-wool skies with her luggage full of books - which is the only thing she really cares about - Lexi is amazed when an old car pulls up and a sixty-six year old Aunt who smiles, works at WalMart, and wants nothing more than to make Lexi happy, stands in front of her. Lexi's life is changing, and the world is about to get a whole lot better.
Her first day of school she tries, as always, to blend in and disappear so that no one will tease her for her poor, tattered clothes. She hates being the new kid and knows that she will be alone as she stares at the cheerleaders and the most popular boy in school, Zach Farraday. Soon, however, lunchtime comes and Lexi walks the school grounds in order to find somewhere she can hide. What she discovers instead is a young girl named Mia, sitting under a tree reading a book, and they become fast friends.
Mia is Zach Farraday's twin sister. She comes from a home of wealth and the perfect, happy family, but the only people who hang out with her are the people who wish to get "in" with Zach. Now her brother loves Mia more than life. He is the one who protects her and stands beside her, helping her through every day that she is scared and tired of being alone. But this one day - this special day that Mia has found an actual friend in Lexi - a girl who wants nothing to do with her brother - changes Mia's life for the better.
Growing up through high school together, Mia and Lexi are as tight as two best friends can be. They experience first loves, heartbreaks, parties that involve drinking and laughter, etc. as they meet the world head on...together. The one thing that also happens during high school is Zach becomes more and more invested in Lexi. He certainly doesn't want to let on that he's falling in love with his sister's best friend, because he doesn't want to hurt Mia; he doesn't want the sister he loves to feel like he's trying to take her best friend away from her.
Through all this is Jude Farraday - mother of Mia and Zach. This is a woman whose own mother was so distant and cold to her that she promised herself she would never be that way to her own children. Instead she's a bit overbearing and wants to make sure that no harm ever comes to Zach or Mia. She oversees parties and ever school get togethers that they have, as well as working her behind off to get them both into USC so they will have the futures they deserve. But as time goes forward, Jude must let go a bit and allow them to grow up and make their own decisions. One evening, on Night Road, a choice is made and the consequences are immeasurable. Lives are lost, lives are given up, love is tested, and a new life is brought into the world.
Kristin Hannah has the unique ability as a writer to make it so the reader is not actually "reading" her stories...they are watching them unfold. Her novels are so real, so filled with emotion, that every reader can identify with the choices that a mother has to make and the tragedies that can occur in life even when you pay attention to every little detail. She teaches us that in the chaos and in the grief there are "islands of grace" that can save our souls and bring us out of the darkness. Readers are healed by her words and I am always amazed that these magnificent stories can come out of someone's soul and be placed on paper. Go to any book site right now and reserve a copy of this for yourselves. It's a magnum opus for every parent, and those who know what it's like to suffer love. A truly beautiful book...
Until next time, Amy
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