Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Lexi Baill is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. An orphan after her mother dies from a drug overdose; she goes to live with her Great-Aunt Eva. Aunt Eva doesn’t have much in the way of material goods, but she does have a lot of love. Lexi attends a school full of rich kids on Pine Island in Washington State. She feels like an outcast until she meets Mia and her twin brother Zach. Mia and Lexi soon become best friends, while Lexi also harbors a secret crush for Zach.
Mia and Zach’s mother Jude is a helicopter Mom. She had a hard time getting pregnant. Since she’s had the twins, she has tried to be the loving mother that she never had. She is super involved in her children’s lives down to planning where they will go to college. The one event she never planned for is a tragedy that takes place along Night Road after a night of teenage drinking . . .
Truthfully Jude annoyed the heck out of me as a mother, which is ironically one of the reasons I found the novel so compelling. I think it will make the book a great point of discussion for our book club as there are sure to be varying views on Jude and her parenting. I think she came full circle and redeemed herself by the end, but her overwhelming involvement in her children’s lives, inability to forgive, and inability to move on made her a divisive character. It is hard to place yourself in someone else’s shoes should tragedy strike, but I hope I would handle things differently than Jude. I don’t want to discuss this point too in depth and giveaway the plot!
I enjoyed Lexi as a heroine. I thought she was a fully rounded character that had her good and her bad points. I was struck in this novel by the disparity between poor Lexi and the rich Mia. Truthfully the life that Jude and her children live as the wife and children of a doctor is not the life that I grew up living or that I live now as an engineer. I emphasized more with Lexi who had to work for everything she had. I can’t really imagine a lifestyle where you don’t have to worry about where you go to college because your parents are footing the entire bill, and getting a brand new car when you turn sixteen. Do people really live like this? I felt poor while reading it!
I particularly liked the shout-out to the Brontes in the novel. Mia and Lexi become friends after they bound over the reading of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. There were also several references to good friends in literature such as Harry and Hermione from Harry Potter and Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings. Most of my book club looks askance when I reference those two series (two of my favorites!) so I wonder if they understood what was being discussed. Sometimes “useless knowledge” isn’t so useless – it’s a good point of reference and common understanding!
Overall, I enjoyed Night Road for a finely written and moving plot with compelling, but often divisive characters. It is a good book to read and discuss as a book club, especially if you have a lot of mothers in the group. I thought the ending was a bit unrealistic, but the happiness of it will probably make most of my book club members happy!
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library