Book Review: Night Road

When you open a Kristin Hannah book, you know exactly what kind of story you’re going to read. Knight Road is no exception.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

This was another loan from the esteemed Library of Grandma. When you open a Kristin Hannah book, you know exactly what kind of story you’re going to read. Night Road is no exception.

Description

Jude Farraday will readily admit she’s a helicopter mom, but better to be overprotective than aloof, like her own mother. Her precious twins are seniors in high school, a final year filled with opportunities and temptations. As a mother, balancing her desire for her children to enjoy high school with her fear of alcohol and parties is a challenge. When Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, befriends her kids, she becomes part of the family. The three seemed bound by concrete, but one poor decision may tear them all apart.

Characters

Jude Farraday is a typical middle-aged Kristin Hannah character—anxiety, Mommy issues, successful but not fulfilled. While this borders on cliché, it also gives Jude wide appeal. Pretty much any mother can relate to Jude’s love for her kids. Lexi, likewise, resembles other Hannah down-and-out youths—a good kid dealt a bad hand. Though repetitive when considering her other books, all of Hannah’s characters, including the minor ones, are three-dimensional and well developed.

Plot

The plot jumps through time as the kids grow in friendship, grieve through tragedy, and heal. Hannah pushes the accident’s legal repercussions to the edge of believability, but anyone who has dealt with well-to-do parents will know such a harsh reaction is plausible.

Writing Style

Kristin Hannah is a master at capturing and eliciting emotion with words. Her descriptions not only transport the reader into the story world, but they ring beautifully, almost like music. I particularly enjoy how she captures the sentiment that small things are big things, like when the lawyer loans Lexi a bicycle. If I’m being nit-picky, I’d say Hannah must enjoy clothes shopping, because she describes every character’s outfit, which I found unnecessary but not too annoying.

Miscellaneous

This book is a typical Kristin Hannah book. It repeats her common themes and includes many elements found in her other books—grief-driven pettiness, the power of motherhood, legal technicalities, and children with psychological quirks caused by the adults’ drama.

Though the book doesn’t stand out from her other works in any significant way, such consistency isn’t necessarily bad. Readers know exactly what to expect when picking up one of her books. If you’re in the mood for an emotional journey through grief and heartbreak, Kristin Hannah always delivers.

Personally, I needed a break from this book halfway through because it got too depressing. Again, that’s not the book’s fault. I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it.

Conclusion

Night Road is an emotional journey through grief and forgiveness with wide appeal. While it’s nothing special when compared to her other works, if you’re in the mood for this type of story, Night Road is a great read.


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Night Road

Other books by Kristin Hannah I enjoyed

Book Review: The Things We Do for Love

As heart-warming as a Hallmark Christmas movie but emotionally deep enough to leave a lasting impression, The Things We Do for Love is a satisfying read. Highly recommend for reading by a cozy fire.

The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah

I had started this book earlier, but had to return it to the city library before I finished. Luckily, the Library of Grandma had a copy I could keep for longer.

Description

Infertility has broken Angie DeSaria’s heart, her marriage, and her self-confidence. To regroup, she moves back to her small Pacific Northwest hometown and takes over management of her family’s failing restaurant. After realizing waitressing doesn’t come as easily as her career in advertising, Angie hires Lauren Ribido. She forms a deep bond with the troubled seventeen-year-old. When the girl’s mother abandons her, Angie offers her a place to stay, but neither the woman who longs for a child nor the girl who longs for a mother’s love could predict the repercussions of that act of kindness.

Characters

Angie comes across a little pathetic at first, but as she grows in self-awareness, she becomes more relatable. She fits into her chaotic-but-loving family, whose support propels her toward healing. Her open heart gets her into trouble, but it rings authentic and inspiring.

I related a lot to Lauren—her drive to succeed, her insecurity, and her devastation after making one simple, but catastrophic, mistake. Adult problems mixed with tumultuous teenage hormones made her compelling. I often look for role models within characters, and I admire Lauren, even if she is fictional. She fits well with the DeSarias.

Plot

The plot is predictable, but I didn’t care. I wanted an emotionally moving story, and I got one. After being so disappointed with The Four Winds, I appreciated The Things We Do for Love’s completion. The ending was obvious to me, and the characters took forever to reach the same conclusion, but even that is realistic. Solutions are harder to find when you are inside the problem.

Writing Style

I love Kristin Hannah’s writing style. Her prose is rich with detail and emotional reflection. I needed a break after binging her books while road tripping, but I know I’ll be back for more.

Conclusion

As heart-warming as a Hallmark Christmas movie but emotionally deep enough to leave a lasting impression, The Things We Do for Love is a satisfying read. It captures the real-life pain of infertility and relational strife while championing the enduring power of family and friendship. Though I wouldn’t recommend this book for fans of cerebral thrillers, the predictable plot delivers on all its promises. Highly recommend for reading by a cozy fire.


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Other books by Kristin Hannah I enjoyed


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Book Review: Burned and Smoke

Both books delve into life’s gray areas and provide a glimpse into the unfiltered questions of two hurting and confused young women. Beautifully written and emotionally moving.

Burned and Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

This duology was my first experience with books in verse. I will definitely read more.

Back Cover Description for Burned

“Raised in a religious—yet abusive—family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions—about God, a woman’s role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance—until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.”

Characters

Pattyn, the eldest daughter in a large Mormon family, starts questioning her family’s faith. She already wrestled with her “good Mormon father’s” alcoholism, so when teenage hormones hit and she develops sexual feelings, those questions increase. She doesn’t want the traditional role of Mormon mother of as-many-as-possible. When her genuine questions are answered with hypocrisy, she rebels.

While the author portrays Pattyn as a flawed human with sincere questions, Ethan, the boy she meets on the ranch in Nevada, leaves much to be desired. Like many leading males in romance novels, Ethan is too perfect. Good-looking and considerate, he doesn’t struggle as Pattyn does. The romance lacks chemistry at the beginning. There is no reason for Ethan to pursue Pattyn other than her looks, though the author implies otherwise.

Perhaps I am picky, but too-perfect guys annoy me. Ethan comes across as a savior, not a partner.

Ethan comes across as a savior, not a partner.

Plot

The story is more character-driven than plot-driven; it centers on Pattyn’s questions about God and love. Poignant and beautifully written poems allow the reader inside her private contemplations as various events shape her beliefs. The plot intensifies dramatically toward the end, which is refreshing but not satisfying. That is why I went straight to the sequel, Smoke after finishing.

Smoke picks up where Burned leaves off, but adds a subplot for Pattyn’s younger sister, Jackie, whose rape is covered up by the LDS community, including her own mother. Smoke built much more suspense throughout the plot, though I don’t think it satisfied the theme of redemption and second loves. Both love stories felt too hasty for me.

I found myself disappointed with the endings. Pattyn questions and rejects her faith, but her new beliefs are ill-defined and center around her love life. She abandons the LDS church to escape their oppressive patriarchy, but then she latches on to Ethan. Perhaps it is because I am religious myself, but I think a boyfriend is a poor substitute for God. I’m not saying she should have converted to another religion, but I wish she had found her own principles, her own foundation that didn’t depend on anyone else, especially not some boy.

A boyfriend is a poor substitute for God.

Writing Style

This is the first I’ve read from Ellen Hopkins, and I adored her writing. Her poems are lyrical without being esoteric. A non-poetry fan could read these books and follow the story with ease. She packs a great deal of power into a few words, especially the poems where she pulls out keywords to form their own sentence. Both Burned and Smoke were beautiful reads.

Conclusion

Burned and Smoke tackle a difficult subject—abuse, rape, and trauma recovery. The content wasn’t too graphic for me, but you must use your own discretion. Both books delve into life’s gray areas and provide a glimpse into the unfiltered questions of two hurting and confused young women. Beautifully written and emotionally moving, each book took only a couple hours to read—one advantage of poetry is brevity. Overall, I would recommend these books, provided you’re not squeamish about the content. I got them as a gift, but I wouldn’t regret spending money on such beautiful writing. Buy both though. Once you finish Burned, you’ll want the closure offered in Smoke.


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