Book Review: Night Road

11 Feb

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 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.

From Kristin Hannah’s website:

I was born in September 1960 in Southern California and grew up at the beach, making sand castles and playing in the surf.   When I was eight years old, my father drove us to Western Washington where we called home.

After working in a trendy advertising agency, I decided to go to law school. “But you’re going to be a writer” are the prophetic words I will never forget from my mother. I was in my third-and final-year of law school and my mom was in the hospital, facing the end of her long battle with cancer. I was shocked to discover that she believed I would become a writer. For the next few months, we collaborated on the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written.

After my mom’s death, I packed up all those bits and pieces of paper we’d collected and put them in a box in the back of my closet. I got married and continued practicing law.

Then I found out I was pregnant, but was on bed rest for five months. By the time I’d read every book in the house and started asking my husband for cereal boxes to read, I knew I was a goner. That’s when my darling husband reminded me of the book I’d started with my mom. I pulled out the boxes of research material, dusted them off and began writing. By the time my son was born, I’d finished a first draft and found an obsession.

The rejections came, of course, and they stung for a while, but each one really just spurred me to try harder, work more. In 1990, I got “the call,” and in that moment, I went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and I’ve never looked back. In all the years between then and now, I have never lost my love of, or my enthusiasm for, telling stories. I am truly blessed to be a wife, a mother, and a writer.

My Impressions:

Night Road was the February selection for my book club, By The Book.  We have been meeting for 9 1/2 years and started out as a fellowship group through my local church.  We have since added members from other churches and have been autonomous for the last 2 years.  That being said, we still read books published for the Christian market.  Night Road was a departure for us, not in content, but because it was written for the secular market.  It contained profanity and a few sex scenes, not our usual fare!  But it scored high with our members. Almost everyone loved it, despite its lack of a faith message and the things mentioned above.  Why?  It produced some of the best discussion we have had on a book and made us examine our own motivations and choices.

Night Road tells the tale of Jude Farraday, an overachieving helicopter mother — you know the ones — perfect lives, perfect children, always hovering and Jude’s daughter’s best friend Lexie — former foster child and child of a drug addict.  Everyone loves Lexie and includes her in the Farraday family until the incident on Night Road.

Night Road underscored for us how hard (or impossible) it is to raise children, survive tragedy, live life, basically to live at all without the foundation of a life in Christ.  We hated Jude, we loved Lexie, we cried and cried at the tragedy and were happy with the ending.  But as one of our members stated, the grief expressed in this book was exhausting, and another said she had a hard time finishing due to the despair portrayed.

So were we happy we departed from the usual.  Yes!  Would I recommend this book.  Yes again!  Night Road is a great discussion group book, even (or maybe especially) for Christian book groups.  We thank ReadingGroupGuides.com and St. Martin’s Press for the lovely copies they provided.  (We won Night Road in a contest!)

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