Book Review: Night Road – Kristin Hannah

Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
ISBN: 9780312364427
Pages: 400
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publicist
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

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Comments

  1. I realize this is close-minded and stubborn but I have yet to read one of her books. I guess it is because every time I hear about them, they feel a little formulaic, and those reading her are hot and cold. Our book club read True Colors (I was out of town for that one) and everyone was apathetic about it. I think I’m still holding out…

  2. I realize this is close-minded and stubborn but I have yet to read one of her books. I guess it is because every time I hear about them, they feel a little formulaic, and those reading her are hot and cold. Our book club read True Colors (I was out of town for that one) and everyone was apathetic about it. I think I’m still holding out…

  3. Sandy – I don’t blame you. I liked Winter Garden, but was eh on the book before that, and I think that’s all of hers I’ve read. I just feel like you want to read what you want to read, and if you truly aren’t interested in something, no amount of positive (or middling in this case) reviews will make you want to read it.

  4. Sandy – I don’t blame you. I liked Winter Garden, but was eh on the book before that, and I think that’s all of hers I’ve read. I just feel like you want to read what you want to read, and if you truly aren’t interested in something, no amount of positive (or middling in this case) reviews will make you want to read it.

  5. I loved this one, because I, too, had a very negative emotional response to Jude, but I felt like the pay-off at the end was worth it.

    Sandy, I also read mixed reviews of her stuff which is why I haven’t read any of her books until now, and this one only because early reviews were so strong.

  6. I loved this one, because I, too, had a very negative emotional response to Jude, but I felt like the pay-off at the end was worth it.

    Sandy, I also read mixed reviews of her stuff which is why I haven’t read any of her books until now, and this one only because early reviews were so strong.

  7. I have read a fair bit about this book, and think that Jude sounds like a character that would grate on my nerves a lot. It almost keeps me from wanting to read this book, but because of the way the rest of the story is handled, I might still consider it. Thanks for your honest perceptions about this one.

  8. I have read a fair bit about this book, and think that Jude sounds like a character that would grate on my nerves a lot. It almost keeps me from wanting to read this book, but because of the way the rest of the story is handled, I might still consider it. Thanks for your honest perceptions about this one.

  9. Have heard very positive stuff about this book and also about the author! this one is getting on to my TBR.

  10. Have heard very positive stuff about this book and also about the author! this one is getting on to my TBR.

  11. Couldn’t stand Jude. She bullied Lexi throughout the book in a way she would never allow her own children to be treated. One of my own take-aways from this was just how brutally without options people like Lexi are.

  12. Couldn’t stand Jude. She bullied Lexi throughout the book in a way she would never allow her own children to be treated. One of my own take-aways from this was just how brutally without options people like Lexi are.

  13. Liz – I totally agree. I didn’t want to talk about it in detail in the review because of potential spoilers, but I just could not handle how badly Jude treated Lexi. It was unbelievable.

  14. Liz – I totally agree. I didn’t want to talk about it in detail in the review because of potential spoilers, but I just could not handle how badly Jude treated Lexi. It was unbelievable.

  15. I haven’t read this one yet, but sounds like it’s worth checking out despite Jude’s perspective 🙂

  16. I haven’t read this one yet, but sounds like it’s worth checking out despite Jude’s perspective 🙂

  17. I’ve actually known some parents who sound a little like Jude, so I might understand her a little better than you did.

  18. I’ve actually known some parents who sound a little like Jude, so I might understand her a little better than you did.

  19. I tried really hard to empathize with Jude, but I agree it was difficult. I think I used the word “hateful” when I described her… I felt like she had trouble being rational and looking at the other side of things.

  20. I tried really hard to empathize with Jude, but I agree it was difficult. I think I used the word “hateful” when I described her… I felt like she had trouble being rational and looking at the other side of things.

  21. I really enjoy seeing other perspectives. I loved this one and really enjoyed Firefly Lane. Such a true emotional read. I understand not liking Jude but she is a very real parent and remember the side of the story of her own relatinship with her mom.

    I have read many negative reviews of Winter Garden but I would like to read all of her books now.

  22. I really enjoy seeing other perspectives. I loved this one and really enjoyed Firefly Lane. Such a true emotional read. I understand not liking Jude but she is a very real parent and remember the side of the story of her own relatinship with her mom.

    I have read many negative reviews of Winter Garden but I would like to read all of her books now.

  23. I liked this book, but my favorite book by Hannah is firefly lane. Nothing will touch that for me.

  24. I liked this book, but my favorite book by Hannah is firefly lane. Nothing will touch that for me.

  25. Ugh, I agree – I could not stand Jude! Her behavior was so awful that even at the end of the book I couldn’t forgive her for the things she had done previously.

  26. Ugh, I agree – I could not stand Jude! Her behavior was so awful that even at the end of the book I couldn’t forgive her for the things she had done previously.

  27. I have read the book so many times. I still cry everytime. Is there any books realted to this one. Something that has love depression???

  28. I have read the book so many times. I still cry everytime. Is there any books realted to this one. Something that has love depression???

  29. So I have to ask…I’ve read a “review” on Kirkus that gave the impression that NIGHT ROAD ended more with tragedy than any kind of HEA. Were you happy with the ending and where Hannah left Lexi?

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