Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Lexi Baill has been in and out of foster homes her entire life. But now, things are about to change. Her social worker has informed her that they have located an aunt who is willing to take Lexi in. Now Lexi has the chance to start over in a new home and a new school. On her first day of school, Lexi meets Mia Farraday, a sensitive girl who is ostracized by her classmates, even though her protective twin brother, Zach, is one of the most popular guys at the school. Lexi and Mia become the closest of friends and Lexi is welcomed into the family by Jude, Mia and Zach’s overbearing mother. But this level of happiness can’t last, and one night, a mistake will change everything and will cost Lexi what she holds most dear.
Night Road is an intense and thought-provoking novel that will leave readers stunned. Hannah tackles so many important issues in this book - the difficulties of being a teenager, love, pregnancy, teen drinking, and what it means to be a mother. Hannah writes in her trademark engaging style, which makes the novel easy to read at the same time it’s dealing with difficult subjects.
I really appreciated the character of Lexi. She didn’t take anything for granted because she didn’t have a mother who provided what Jude did for Mia and Zach. She was so thankful for everything she had, and as a result, she was almost too quick to think of others instead of herself. She was generous and saw the best in people, and I loved her for that. Her part in this story broke my heart, as I only wanted good things for her.
However, Night Road didn’t work as well for me as previous Kristin Hannah novels, such as Winter Garden. While I loved Lexi, I didn’t really connect with any of the other characters, including Mia and Zach. Additionally, the ending came all too abruptly and it was placed into much too neat of a package, complete with a perfectly tied bow on top. But the main reason that I didn’t love Night Road, though, was simple: Jude.
The book is actually told from two points of view: Lexi’s and Jude’s. And because I could not identify with or understand Jude at all, I had trouble with the book. First of all, Jude was unbelievably overbearing. I think it’s good to be involved in your children’s lives, but Jude went so overboard, I almost couldn’t handle it. I mean, at one point in the book, she insisted on walking her senior-in-high-school daughter to her locker and to homeroom on the first day of school, and there was nothing MIa could do to dissuade her. Additionally, there is another reason I couldn’t stand her, but discussing it would ruin a large plot point of the novel. Let’s just say that Jude rubbed me the wrong way from beginning to end. Her inability to let go, as well as to take responsibility for anything, frustrated me.
Still, I don’t discount Night Road just because of Jude - after all, she was written to be difficult. Her journey to a place of acceptance is a long and difficult one, and I just wish it had come a little sooner. The book really made me think, and it provoked a very emotional response from me, both because I really liked Lexi and did not like Jude at all. In a lot of ways, I consider that success - the worst is when readers are utterly disinterested. So while I didn’t love this book, I’m still glad I read it. If you’re a fan of provocative women’s fiction, this would be a great pick for you. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing what Hannah does next.