According to Kristin Hannah, Night Road was inspired by her son’s senior year of high school (see her blog for more in her own words). If so, that must have been a year rife with anxiety!
The reader is privy to two primary perspectives, one adult, one teen, leading up to and recovering from a tragic event. For me, the teen perspective, Lexi’s story, was by far the most compelling.
I know many librarians object to pigeon-holing a book by gender preference, but this is women’s fiction and perfect for girls who enjoy a sad story, especially one involving a great love. This would also be a great choice for a mother-daughter bookclub.
My only objection is the piling of tragedy upon tragedy, until the author’s treatment of Lexi feels nearly sadistic. But of course the point is that Lexi make it through everything she encounters, every twist and turn, and truly deserve her happy ending.
HANNAH, Kristin. Night Road. 385p. St. Martin’s. 2011. Tr $27.99. ISBN 978-0-312-36442-7. LC 2010041204.
Adult/High School–Lexi found her mother dead of an overdose, and lived in and out of foster care. Now she is 14 and her great-aunt Eva has agreed to take her in. Lexi moves to Port George, Washington to live with Eva in a small, but neat, trailer. Although poor, for the first time the teen has an adult in her life who cares about her. On the first day of high school, she meets twins Mia and Zach. During her first class she is rescued by Zach, the golden boy, and they feel instant chemistry. At lunch she encounters Mia, and they immediately become best friends. Mia is shy and fragile, deeply wounded by a former best friend only posing in order to interest Zach. For years, Lexi and Zach remain just friends for Mia’s sake. Jude, the twins’ overprotective, loving mother, takes Lexi under her wing, and their lavish waterfront house becomes her second home. Then, at the end of senior year, a drunk-driving incident destroys everything Jude had built and maintained so carefully, and the relationships among Lexi, Zach, and Mia. Teens who enjoy multiple points of view, and the agony of Jodi Picoult-like scenarios, will feel right at home here. Lexi is a character to root for, resilient enough to overcome incredible hardship, determined to do the right thing. Most important, the teenagers here act like teenagers. Even those with the best intentions are swept up in partying with their peers, with heartbreaking results.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City