04 December 2010

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Product Description from Amazon.com: "Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers. In an instant, Jude's idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People - and Jude - demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her - the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had - while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi … and herself."

I read this book in one evening, staying up late because I couldn't put it down. Hannah's descriptions are vivid and her characters are real - I felt as though their struggles were my own; their emotional upheaval affected me and kept me turning the pages. Lexi, Zach and Mia felt like people I had always known; Jude was just like so many moms I knew in high school.

There were moments in the story that were predictable, for sure (it's hard to write a rich kid/poor kid relationship without falling into at least a couple of standard literary traps) but I definitely found myself surprised more often than not. When tragedy struck, I could truly feel the fabric of these characters' lives ripping apart.

Hannah raises profound questions about motherhood, friendship, identity, loss and forgiveness. I know the product description hints to a chick-lit story aimed mostly at women - and yes, I do believe women are more likely to respond to the story and it's players, but I do not want to label this novel as chick-lit - Hannah deserves the credit for crafting a truly enjoyable, finely nuanced and complex work of literary fiction. I give this book 5 stars, and strongly recommend that readers scoop it up when it hits the shelves in March 2011.

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