Saturday, December 18, 2010

Night Road, by Kristin Hannah

Night Road was a heartbreaking, emotional book (in a “mother’s worst nightmare” sort of way.) From the first couple of pages, we know there is going to be a tragedy.  After that short intro, we are taken back in time to meet our characters.
Mia and Zach are twins just starting high school.  They have led a privileged life, and their mother, Jude has catered to their every whim (as long as it’s her whim too.)  She’s a helicopter parent – she has her hand in every aspect of their lives.
Lexi is the new girl in school.  After living in foster care for most of her life, she comes to live with her great aunt Eva in Port George, Washington, which is an island community on the coast.
Lexi and Mia, both being misfits, hit it off immediately and a strong friendship is born.  Eventually, Zach and Lexi begin to have romantic feelings, but the threesome handles this, and they are always together.  The first 150 pages of the book cover their high school experience, the building of their bonds, and the difficulties of a typical high school life. And then tragedy strikes.
I won’t say too much about the tragedy, but the following 200+ pages cover the impact this tragedy has on all their lives, and Hanna does this in a very accurate way. Suffice it to say, everyone’s life undergoes dramatic change, and none of these changes are positive.
The plot was compelling, and if you’ve read my recent Blog Hop post, I’m a plot driven person.  I never wanted to not finish this book, but I also had trouble “living in” this book.  I felt like I was reading a story, never pulled into it, like in the best books.  I read it because I wanted to find out what happened. There were only a few, maybe picky problems I had, but I think these may have been why I felt detached, especially at the beginning of the book.
There were just “unfinished” things.  For example, Zach is a popular football player.  They NEVER talk about football games, or go to the games or anything.  It is mentioned several times that Zach is a shoe-in for homecoming king.  They even say during the dance, that Zach needs to come inside, because they are going to announce the king.  Then…. nothing. We never find out anything about whether he was king.  Not that this is important to the story, but I felt these facts were given just to reinforce how popular he was, but they were like threads hanging off the story.
Miles, the twins’ father, is a skeleton character.  He exists to tell Jude to stop smothering the kids, which he does every time he appears.  Even if they are in the room, Miles never talks to the kids.  I found this weird.  I felt like Eva, Lexi’s aunt, was also a shallow character.  We go for pages and pages, when Lexi is experiencing high school, without ever hearing anything about Eva, when Lexi supposedly lives with her.
Caroline, Jude’s mother, never appears without the reader being told exactly what she is wearing.  She’s a rich, uppity, high class woman who is impeccably dressed, but even when we are in the midst of tragedy and sorrow, we are once again given a description of what she is wearing.  It detracted from the story for me. Most of the time we are told exactly what Jude is wearing too.  “She put on a pair of khakis and a white shirt.” Why does that matter?  Can’t we just be told “She got dressed”?
These seem like minor things, but added up, I think they made this story less meaningful to me.  Entertaining, but just a story.  I loved Hannah’s True Colors. I passed that book on to everyone I know.  I just didn’t feel the same way about this book.  I’ll pass it on to fans of Hannah, but it’s not at the top of my list of her books.
Thanks LibraryThing and St. Martin’s Press for sending me this book for my honest review.

5 comments:

  1. I got this one for review, too, so I'll be interested to compare thoughts after I read it!

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  2. It's definitely going to be a tear jerker. I'll be looking out for this.

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  3. This book is one I requested from TheLibrayThing Early Reviewers, but I wasn't fortunate enough to win. Instead, I received Undressing the Moon, which I'm REALLY enjoying. After reading your very well written honest review, I'm not sure if I'm quite as interested in the book as I was when I read the plot-line and summary.

    Oh, and I just wanted to comment on the clothes thing. I agree with you, but maybe the point was to drive home Jude's materialism?

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  4. Gina, I agree with you about the clothes thing. I'm sure there was a reason for it, and you are probably right -- I just got tired of it, and there were also many descriptions of their house, and other example of materialism that I wanted to shout "I GOT it!"

    But, it is a great plot, like you said, and I'm glad I read it just to see how she resolved everything.

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  5. Annette, you're right, we definitely had a lot of the same problems with this book! I completely agree about odd and missing details...And the clothing thing drove me nuts too...I like clothing to be described in a subtle way.

    Also, I found the references to specific songs or movie titles to be really strange and might make the book seem dated in 10-15 years.

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