Set on Pine Island, Night Road is the story of three teenagers: Lexi, Mia and her twin brother Zach. Lexi's childhood was spent watching her alcoholic mother slowly poison herself to death. When she turns fourteen, Lexi's Aunt Eva takes her in to live with her in her caravan on a trailer park.
Mia and Zach Farraday, on the other hand, had an idyllic childhood with everything they could possibly want from an adoring and doting mother. Despite this, Mia is a shy girl, constantly overshadowed by her outgoing and outrageously good-looking brother who sails through life so easily.
The twins meet Lexi on their first day of high school. Lexi, sweet-natured and gentle, finds a soul mate in Mia and they become best friends. Lexi falls in love with Zach the moment she first sets eyes on him but she never imagines that he'd ever look at her in any way other than as his beloved twin's best friend. But it turns out that Zach is absolutely crazy about Lexi, he just doesn't want to jeapardize her relationship with Mia, who has always found it hard to make friends.
Life changes for them all on a fateful summer's night following their graduation party. Zach's the designated driver, but both he and Mia had had far too much too drink. Lexi decides that she is sober enough to drive. It turns out to be a decision that she will regret for the rest of her life... (from publisher's site)
The publisher's site does a superb job of giving you an intro to this book ~ so I don't have to get all synopsis-y (I am so lazy with writing my own synopsis's (synopsii? LOL) for reviews. Moving along...). Night Road has many elements that attracted me:
- girl best friends, one girl in love with the others (forbidden) twin brother
- a fateful tragic summer evening
- idyllic childhoods, promises and broken hearts
- the whole leaving childhood behind thing
- watching devastating consequences play out...
People on the island still talk about what happened in the summer of '04. They sit on bar stools and in porch swings and spout opinions, half-truths, making judgements that aren't theirs to make. They think a few columns in the newspaper give them the facts they need. But the facts are hardly what matter... (page 2)
Night Road is commercial fiction, and while literary is my first love, commercial is my guilty pleasure. I often need a book that doesn't require anything of me but to curl up and get carried away into a story. Which is exactly what I did with Night Road. I read it within 24 hours and it was deliciously satisfying.
Night Road has perfect cross-over appeal for young adults looking to dabble in adult fiction. As the story opens, Lexi, Mia and Zach are 14 years old and meeting for the first time. By chapter three, they are seniors in high school and for a good chunk of the book they are teenagers.
Plot-wise ~ I always enjoy books that follow characters through their lives a little and this one spans from early teens to mid-twenties. There's some foreshadowing so that some of the events that take place are predictable. I enjoy that kind of foreshadowing as it creates tension and expectation. What, however, is not predictable is the way the events will play out (!). Oh my gosh! Kristin Hannah really puts her characters through the wringer...
Which is why I managed to get the unputdownable sucked in feeling half way through.
I found the book incredibly easy to sink into and once the Main Event occurs (just past a third of the way in) I was completely addicted and utterly engrossed. And that's what defines a guilty pleasure for me: when I know a book doesn't have the greatest literary merit (you know what I'm saying here...) but I am completely sucked into the story anyway. The prose is nothing to get excited about (it is rather effortless and smooth) and at times characters and plot points are a tad cliché but they were never tacky. Some of the characters felt a little two-dimensional, but it didn't particularly faze me as it is more a plot-driven than character-driven novel.
To go with an analogy, it was like that addictiveness of made-for-tv movies: not as brilliant or block-buster-y as Hollywood A-list movies ~ but completely absorbing and just plain good times (well, despite the tragedy of it all). Also, sheepishly, I even found myself tear-y at one point towards the end (!)
As for what I got tear-y about? The story is kind of haunting and sorrowful and devastating and hopeful, full of dreams (that get dashed) and it's also a little bit tender. It stars some really infuriating characters (those ones you love to hate...). It also featured a side plot (nicely done) that always always gets me ~ the neglected little child...aww.
I had a good good time reading this and I have already added more of Kristin Hannah's titles to my to-read list. She is similar in style/feel/genre to LESLEY PEARCE and perhaps LESLEY LOKKO (although, IMO, superior to LOKKO).
Kristin Hannah is a New York Times best selling author and she is good at what she does. Her strength is in her story-telling and her love for her characters and in being able to whisk the reader into someone else's story. It was an engaging relaxing guilty-pleasure type read. Le sigh...
Have you read any Kristin Hannah?
Who are your similar guilty pleasure reads?
Also, whoa, brackets all over the place (haha), I keep interrupting myself in my own review :D
Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels. She is a former lawyer turned writer and is the mother of one son. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. For more information, visit www.kristinhannah.com
Night Road was released in Australia last month.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me this review copy :)