Review: Night Road
Jude Farraday is a helicopter parent and she knows it. She does everything she can to protect her kids, assuming that if she keeps their home a welcoming place then her children and their friends will remain safe under her watchful eye. This becomes increasingly difficult, though, as twins Mia and Zach get older, start driving, attending parties, making plans to go off to college. Jude knows she can’t protect them forever, but she hopes to at least get them through their senior year of high school.
Shy outcast Lexi has been passed back and forth between foster homes and her substance abusing mother. When her mom dies, Lexi is sent to live with a relative who takes her in despite barely making ends meet. Lexi meets Mia on her first day of school, and the two become fast friends even though they come from vastly different circumstances. Lexi becomes a part of the Farraday family, and that is why it takes years before she is willing to be open about her crush on Zach, knowing that it has the potential to ruin their relationship.
Once Lexi and Zach begin dating, the carefully constructed world Jude has created begins to fall apart. Mia and Zach have their perfect futures all laid out for them, but Lexi does not have the means with which to follow them off into the sunset. Zach must choose between his family’s wishes and his relationship with Lexi. The decisions these teens must make only become more difficult, and there comes a point at which they must make them on their own. Unfortunately for Jude, Mia, Zach, and Lexi, it doesn’t always take bad people to ruin the life you’ve built, sometimes it only takes a single bad choice.
Kristin Hannah’s Night Road is a beautiful book that explores the many nuances of family life through the perspective of both an adult and the teens. Its dual nature would make it an excellent crossover book to be read by parents and children and discussed together. I had never read any of Hannah’s other books, but I can easily see her becoming a new go-to author. Her books are likely to be enjoyed by fans of similar commercial fiction that explores social ethics, like Jodi Picoult’s books. Night Road also had many similarities to Heather Gudenkauf’s These Things Hidden in its exploration of motherhood and the influences of a teen’s bad choices on the rest of their life.
I cried my eyes out over and over as I read this book. Hannah makes you fall in love with her characters, all the while building a sense of foreboding, a sense that such a perfect family cannot stay perfect for long. Some elements were predictable, and I wanted to stop reading in order to preserve the sanctity of their world. Like Jude, I hoped to create a freeze frame of a moment in which everyone was safe, but like Jude, I had to let go and allow the rest of the book to play itself out. Night Road sucked me in on a torturous ride that showed how easily bad things can happen in the blink of an eye, shattering the illusion that a protective (even overprotective) parent is enough to keep children safe. Yet, it also makes you ask yourself if a teen’s mistakes should be enough to destroy their future, especially when they were enough to ruin someone else’s. Night Road will keep you questioning whether you would have the courage to forgive and to move on when you feel as though you’ve lost everything.