Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Night Road
by Kristin Hannah

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.
To hold on…
To let go..
To forget…
To forgive…
Which road will you take?

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 safe and on track for college. 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.

NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Hardcover, 385 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2011)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Night RoadEvery once in a while you will find a book that touches you so deeply that it feels like it has become part of you. For me, Night Road was one of those books. I finished reading (listening) yesterday, and have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I thought maybe if I wrote my thoughts down I would be able to put it behind me and move on with my life. Here's hoping.

First off, this was my first Kristin Hannah book. If all of her books are like Night Road, I am going to be reading them all. The writing was amazing; the story was compelling but heartbreaking. One of my favorite things about the story was Lexi and Zach's relationship. It was a sweet, slow building love that simmered for years before finally bursting into flames. It is the kind of love that little girls dream of and mothers hope for their children someday. Throughout the entire book I was rooting for them, even though it seemed hopeless. Their love for each other was strong, but life and bad choices – even if they were for the right reasons – got in their way.

As for the characters:
Lexi – She had an amazing heart. From the very first page I knew I would love her. She had a rough life with a drug addicted mother and foster home after foster home. All she wanted out of life was for someone to love her and someplace to belong. Throughout the story she always tried to do the right thing, but it seemed like no matter what she did someone always got hurt. My heart really hurt for her as she struggled with her choices, conscious, and emotions. Lexi did make mistakes – a lot of them – but she was young and naive, and she believed that good would always win out in the end. She saw the world as black and white, right and wrong, and always did what she knew was right in her heart.

Mia – She was so much fun. She was such a great friend to Lexi and loved unconditionally. She saw the good in people and the good in life. Awkward and shy, anyone who gave Mia a chance would have no choice but to fall in love with her.

Zach – I had a love/hate relationship with Zach. Like Lexi, he was young and made mistakes. His biggest mistake was letting his mother run his life. He loved her and wanted to make her happy, but his own happiness that suffered because of it. Many, many times in this book I wanted to just YELL at him to stop being such a coward and stand up for what he wanted – for what he KNEW was right!! He let his mother hurt Lexi over and over because he was afraid to stand up to her and fight for his love. I hated him for that. But I loved him for the way he loved Lexi.

Jude – I had a love/hate relationship with Jude as well. She tried to be the perfect mother, but her drive for perfection, to give her children everything she had not had growing up, drove her to be overbearing and nearsighted. Her children loved her and would do anything to make her happy. Anything. That was her downfall – not listening to them and letting them live their own lives. As a mother, I completely understood her feelings and reasonings throughout the story, both the good and the bad. But she made bad choices as well, all in the name of love.

Just a warning, you will cry when reading this story – and when I saw cry I mean bawl like a baby. If you don't, you must be heartless. So, with that in mind, don't read in public (or anyplace people are going to be asking you over and over if you are okay), wear waterproof mascara, and have a box of tissues (or two) close at hand. There is so much emotion infused into this story, it's amazing to me the way the author used her words to weave this story so perfectly together. Part of me wishes this book was part of a series and we could see these characters in the future, but the other part of me is glad the story ended where it did and left the future to my imagination. It ended well and left a lasting impression.

Audio Review: The narrator of this book did an excellent job. She was the perfect Lexi. She had voice infections and emotions down perfectly. I'm not sure this story would have had quite the impact it did had I been reading it instead of listening to it. In my mind I could picture Lexi speaking, and it really helped bring the story to life. She also used a variety of vocal intonations for different characters, not necessarily trying to be the character but enough to show a different speaking style. It was enjoyable to listen to.

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