Firefly Lane is the story of two girls that become best friends at the age of fourteen and continue their friendship through life changes including college, careers, marriage, and children. Kate Mularkey is a lonely, unpopular 14-year old when Tully Hart moves to town. Tully is beautiful and popular, but hides the fact that her mother is a drug addicted flower child. Tully is ultimately lonely too and becomes best friends with Kate.
Kate and Tully attend college together to become television broadcasters. While beautiful Tully has great ambition and loves to be the center on air, Kate is content to be working hard offstage. Kate longs to be a wife and mother while Tully wants to have the top career that she can. After Kate marries and has the family she always wanted, she struggles with the constant demands of being a stay-at-home mother. Tully works hard and has a very successful career, but it comes at the cost of being unable to settle down and have a family. Both women are jealous of aspects of the other’s life.
Ultimately, this novel of friendship is really about the struggles that women face in having a career and a family. Kate and Tully are born in 1960 to put a timeline on it. They are closer in age to my mother who was born in 1955 then me, but their struggle is something that still faces women of today.
Kate is a smart woman who gives up her career to raise her family. Besides the hardships she faces raising a headstrong daughter and two young twin boys, she sometimes yearns for a career and success of her own. I love this quote from a party she attends with her husband, “Sipping her champagne, she followed her husband around the room, smiling when she was supposed to, laughing when it seemed appropriate, saying, ‘I’m an at-home mom,’ when asked, and watching how those few words – a sentence that made her so proud – could kill a conversation.” I can sympathize. As I work part-time and stay at home part time, I notice the difference in how people treat me if they think I am a stay-at-home mother versus an engineer. What those people without kids don’t understand is how hard a job it is being a mother.
By the end, Kate comes to terms with being an at-home mother saying “. . . you see that love and family are all there is. Nothing else matters.”
Tully often fantasizes about her lost love Chad or her BFF Kate’s family wishing she had one of her own. But she is very proud of her hard work and her success. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure about this depiction. I think if a woman has a fulfilling career and is happy with it, she should have to feel guilty about not having a family. Having a family is not for everyone. I did like the conflict and discussion though. The grass is always greener on the other side and it was interesting for each woman to think about if she had taken the other road in life.
Overall this was a good read, especially the ending, but I won’t give any spoilers here. They only thing I didn’t like is that the book often reminded me of other tales of best friends including Beaches. I would find myself thinking, didn't I read/watch this before?
Firefly Lane is the February pick for the FLICKS Book and Movie Club.
Book Source: Kewaunee Public Library