Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Review: Night Road by Kristen Hannah

I'm a pretty big Kristin Hannah fan - just like I'm also a Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard fan.  And it's not really because the writing is spectacular, but because I can't put them down.  This one was no exception.  It's a recent release and I think it'll make a great summer/beach/pool read.  The book tells the story of Jude Farraday, a typical helicopter mother, and her twins, Zach and Mia.  Mia has a hard time making friends when she enters high school until Lexi arrives.  Lexi comes from a background of abuse and neglect and has spent much of her life in foster care.  Jude worries about the friendship that develops between the twins and Lexi, but overlooks her concerns about Lexi's background when she sees how much Lexi helps Mia become a part of the group.  During their senior year of high school, however, each character's life is changed forever by one devastating decision (insert dramatic music here). 

Writing: I hope I don't say this too much on here, but I feel like every time I review a book like this I need to reiterate WHY I have two review sections.  For me, "well-written" and "entertaining" are two completely different things.  I want my blog to focus equally on the academic as well as the entertaining, which means being able to judge a book by its merits in each category.  So when I say on here that I don't think a book was particularly well-written, I don't mean that the book was "bad" (whatever "bad" means in terms of books).  The writing in Night Road isn't poor.  There aren't grammar mistakes, there aren't gaping plot holes, the characters are all interesting.  But we're also not talking deep or lyrical or intense.  It's typical "women's lit" and I don't mean that in any sexist way, I mean it in the way that it is comparable to what you'll find if you google women's best sellers.  All that to say, I don't recommend this book for the writing, but...

MST3K: I definitely recommend it for the story.  You don't pick up a Kristen Hannah book and expect to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  And thank goodness.  Because when I'm in the mood for an engrossing story that I'm going to be unable to put down, a story that's going to make me cry, and a story that will shock me with its ending, and a story that I'll breeze through, I'm not looking for Marquez.  Just like when I sit down to watch a show like House I'm not expecting to see a medical documentary.  Characters can be exaggerated, aspects of the story can be contrived, and sometimes a predictable ending with just the right amount of happiness and sadness is just what you want to read.  And in this case, Night Road was exactly what I wanted to read. 

I highly recommend it to any lovers of women's lit - if you like Picoult, Mitchard, Kittle, or any of the other major women's lit authors, you'll love this one!  It also doesn't hurt that the cover is gorgeous.

7 comments:

  1. My husband and I both read this book and liked it. Here's the link to our review of it if you are interested: http://ourstack.blogspot.com/2011/05/night-road-by-kristin-hannah.html

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  2. I loved this one, everything about it. I understood your explaination about writing before and it never turned me off, if I hadn't read this one I may have considered not reading it this time, interesting.

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  3. Marce - I'm so glad you commented! That is the exact opposite of what I was trying to do. I was wanting to lessen the effect of saying it wasn't brilliant writing, but I must have overstated. I love learning how my writing comes across to others - next time I'll trust my readers to know what I mean by "the writing was ok" instead of trying to analyze it all.

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  4. I loved this book! I agree the writing was pretty straightforward, but gosh was it ever compulsive reading!

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  5. I just picked this book up at the library! I'm excited to read it.

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  6. Our book club met today to discuss Night Road. We all agreed that the writing was not terrific and perhaps it was a bit contrived, however it was a wonderful book club choice. All of us have gone through the teenage years with our kids and could relate well to the story. We couldn't help but wonder what kind of impression the book would make on a teenage reader.

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  7. This is one of my favorite books of hers. She is an awesome writer and draws you in to the story and the characters lives. This on made me laugh and cry and jump for JOY at the end. Awesome book and what a tribute to love and loss. This is a story on not only true love, but also true freindship.

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