Thursday, April 28, 2011

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

I'll be honest with you, when I first read the description for Night Road, I wasn't sure as a mother, that I could read the book. I was too worried that it would be "scary". (This is only a portion of that description, but I'm sure you will see the part that worried me as a mom.)

    Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm’s way. It has always been easy-- until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.

    On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.

In part Night Road tells the story of a mother, Jude Farraday, devoted to her twin teenage children - Mia and Zach. In part, it tells the story of Lexi, who has led a difficult life as a child in foster care being bounced around with no family to call her own, who finally finds that she does have family, in the form of an Aunt she has never met, who lives in Washington. It tells how they become intertwined in each others lives through Lexi's relationship with both Mia and Zach.

In the early chapters, I was a little concerned that the story seemed to jump around. The first chapter gave us some of the back story on Lexi and then, on the Farraday family. In the second chapter, it is the first day of school Freshman year. It is here that Lexi first meets Zach in class and then, meets Mia during lunch. It gives a brief view into the start of the friendship between Mia and Lexi. Then, suddenly, in chapter three, we fast forward from Freshman year to Senior year. The book spends a few pages trying to catch the reader up with the Farraday family and then with Lexi. I was worried that skipping the three years and then trying to play catch up in a few pages would impact the development of the characters.

Turns out I was wrong. The author merely wanted us to understand where they came from and then wanted to really dive into the story she set out to share. The four main characters are wonderfully developed. There are a few ancillary characters that we get to know, but none as well as Jude, Zach, Mia and Lexi. The story is told by both Lexi and Jude, allowing the reader the unique opportunity to really get to know them and to understand each of their relationships with Zach and Mia.

I will admit that it took me a little longer to get into this book than some (probably my perception of the jumpiness didn't help), but the perseverance paid off. Once I was in, I was in deep - it took me a few days of reading to get through the first one hundred thirty-some pages, but I read the last two hundred fifty-some pages over the course of only a few hours. I found myself unwilling to put the book down. I was engrossed and entangled in their story. I found myself feeling like one with the characters, sharing in their emotions, in their highs and their lows. I sat at the kitchen table those couple of hours, not noticing how uncomfortable it was to sit in a wooden chair that long. I took breaks, only long enough to fetch more tissues and to get the kids their breakfast or start a movie. It was wonderful!

Night Road was such a moving story. To see this foursome torn apart by tragedy, was so difficult - I cried as a friend, a sibling and a mom. I cried not only at "the incident" but throughout the end of the story, as those impacted faced the consequences of the event, as they slowly recovered and learned to forget or at least forgive, as they realized how strong their love still could be and how that could help them to move on with life. I think that it shows how much impact some people that come into your life can have on the course of your life. How sometimes, those that cause you to hurt can also help you to heal.

I probably should stop talking (typing really, I guess), lest I share too much and ruin the reading experience for you. Because, I recommend this book (especially if you love a book that makes you cry - I do!) to you.

This was the first book that I read by Kristin Hannah, but based on reviews I have read for her other books, she is a story-teller and I look forward to picking up some of her other books in the future. Her website features 12 of her books (including Night Road), as well as 5 earlier titles. That should keep me busy for a while.

No compensation was received for this post. I received an Advanced Reader's Copy for the purposes of reading and sharing a review.