Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Fiction, Women's Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
Pub. Date: March 22, 2011
I always look forward to Kristin Hannah's books. There's a level of comfort I get from them, or maybe it's the dependability that I will become ensconced in the warmth of yet another great story, the ultimate "take me away". Once again she did not disappoint as she brought the story of Night Road, one of grief and love, of freedom and choices, forgiveness, and the complexities of motherhood.
Night Road tells the story of Jude Farraday and her twin teenagers, Zach and Mia. They, along with the father, Miles, live the perfect life. They have tons of friends, live in a great community full of opportunities. Zach is the popular kid that everyone likes and who always has a girlfriend; unfortunately, his twin sister, Mia, is the quintessential loner, very reserved, and lacking in the friend department. In their freshman year of high school, they meet fellow classmate, Lexi, and Mia and Lexi become immediate best friends. Lexi has spent her life bouncing around from foster home to foster home while her mother comes in and out of her life, but she soon becomes part of the Farraday family. The only "rule" of sorts is that Lexi remain friends with Mia and not become romantically involved with Zach considering what happened to Mia the last time her friend dated Zach and then disappeared all together once she and Zach broke up.
Senior year brings some challenges for the Farraday family, as Jude struggles with allowing her children more freedom and learning to trust in their decision making. Jude revels in the fact that her children are headed off to a great college, but Zach and Mia struggle with their decision regarding college and where, exactly, they want to go. All this struggle and worry is later realized to be merely trifling, when some bad decisions change everything. Without revealing anything, the decision completely changes the lives of all involved. It causes the characters to question their identity, their life, their purpose.
Besides being yet another engaging story with great characters, it also gave a lot of food for thought. It was interesting, especially at my age, to see things from both the points of view of the teenagers and the mother. After all, I fall somewhere in the middle and can relate to both sides. This book definitely brought about memories of being a teenager, making friends, trying to fit in, and eventually trying to gain some freedom. But then I was also able to somewhat empathize with the experience of a mother in that situation, wanting the best for her children and feeling scared when that potential is threatened. After the "change" occurs, I found myself becoming so frustrated with Jude's character. I felt she was so hateful and can't imagine myself ever having such vehemence. But then, her emotions were so raw that there may have been a truth to them that I'm just too naive to understand at this point. I did find the progression of the characters and the pacing of the story to be really effective. My husband caught me crying at different parts of this book. It was pretty intense at times and sometimes sorrowful; and my emotions roiled right along with the characters' which indicated, to me, my dedication to them.
I'm happy to say I really enjoyed Hannah's latest. All of her fans will surely enjoy this as well, and other readers of women's fiction will find a great addition to their array of favorite authors.