Night Road, by Kristin Hannah (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2011).
"For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children's needs above her own, and it shows -- her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close-knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia's best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
"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 Mia and Zach leave the house, she worries about them.
"On a hot summer's night her worst fears are realized. 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."
"She stands at the hairpin turn on Night Road."
I do love me some chick lit now and again. Light, quick, enough twists to keep it interesting, but predictable enough that you feel like you accomplished something in guessing what was next. I'd read one or two of Hannah's other books before, knew what I was getting into, and wasn't really disappointed. She hasn't yet written as much and/or I haven't yet read enough of her books for them to become as predictable as, say, a Jodi Picoult or Maeve Binchy; either way, I only read a given author in this genre once every 6 months, if that, so it takes a while to get so old as to cease being fun anymore.
So I got about what I expected. Jude as the just-about-perfect, if a tad overprotective, mom is just over-the-top enough to be both funny and oddly sympathetic (at least, until the pivotal event alluded to in the jacket summary above). Lexi really does turn out to be a good kid, rather than the bad apple you might expect, and her aunt Eva, who works at Wal-Mart and lives in a clean if shabby trailer, never had kids ... yet seems to know exactly how to talk to Lexi and what she needs, is a perfect contemporary version of the noble peasant cliche. Zach, even if he's the most popular and best looking boy at school, turns out to just be The World's Nicest Guy, and is apparently never mean to his shyer, somewhat awkward twin sister or her trailer-park new best friend. Yeah, it strains credibility in places, but like I said -- that and the can't-possibly-imagine tragedies are what make our own everyday lives seem manageable and decent by comparison. Not worth owning, but a decent evening's entertainment for those who, like me, prefer lightweight novels to bad TV.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.