From the Publisher
“Night Road is one special book that can transform the lives of readers by influencing how they think about certain important life issues. The reader becomes a first-hand witness to the pitfalls of parenthood, mortality, heartbreak, guilt, life choices, grief, forgiveness, and much more. In short, the entire range of human emotions are explored in this...hopeful book about the triumphant power of the human spirit in the process of forgiveness.” New York Journal of Books
“…movingly written and plotted with the heartless skill of a Greek tragedy, you'll keep turning the pages until the last racking sob.” The Daily Mail
“A rich, multilayered reading experience, and an easy recommendation for book clubs.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Hannah masterfully details the unraveling of a family.” People magazine
“Kristin Hannah is back in top form with Night Road…it will hook Hannah fans from start to suspenseful finish” The Seattle Times
Hannah follows up Winter Garden with a strained story of friendship, social pressures, love, and forgiveness. After a string of foster homes and the death of her heroin-addict mother, Lexi Baill is taken in by a newly discovered great-aunt who lives a spartan life near Seattle. Despite financial problems, the two are glad to have found each other, and though Lexi resolves to stay safely on the periphery at her new high school, she soon meets Mia, unhappy and awkward despite a solid family life, a loving twin brother, Zach, and a closetful of clothes. The friendship flourishes, and Mia's mother, Jude, relieved and pleased for her daughter, draws Lexi into the family circle. But trouble begins in senior year with a slowly growing attraction between Zach and Lexi, who take great pains to make Mia comfortable with the change in the dynamics. This familiar story takes an unfortunate turn deep into after-school-special territory when Lexi, Mia, and Zach collectively make a bad decision that results in a tragedy with extreme repercussions. Even readers who like their melodrama thick will have problems as Hannah pushes credibility to the breaking point, and more than once. (Mar.)
Hannah (Winter Garden), long a favorite in women's fiction, has written a novel that should propel her onto the book club fiction circuit. Although infused with a tad too much soap opera drama, at its heart is a story about the agonizing choices parents face daily as they try to raise their children to be happy, independent, and well-adjusted adults. Jude is devoted to her two children, twins Zach and Mia. Haunted by a distant relationship with her own mother, she is determined to give her son and daughter every possible opportunity along with an abundance of love and support. Her physician husband, Miles, is supportive but takes a more laid-back approach. Zach is one of the popular kids in high school, Mia not so much. When Mia becomes friends with Lexi, the new girl in school, things begin to look up. Then an unexpected tragedy forces several of the main characters to face a profound and life-changing event. VERDICT Not quite at the level of a Jodi Picoult or Chris Bohjalian story but awfully darn close. Longtime fans will love this rich, multilayered reading experience, and it's an easy recommendation for book clubs. [400,000-copy first printing; national tour; see Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/10.]—Margaret Hanes, Civic Center Lib., Warren, MI
Read an Excerpt
Behind the Novel
How little I knew about the world, and about parenting. When my son started school, I relaxed a tiny bit. He had made it past the dangerous yearsor so I thought. He had learned how to cross the street, to wear a helmet, to ask for help, to stay away from strangers. But how do you keep them safe when the danger comes from within?
Senior year of high school. The Big Year.
I wanted so much for him in that yearto love his classes, do well in his endeavors, ace the SAT, go to the prom, sign his yearbook, pick his college. All of it. I remembered how much fun I had senior year, and I wanted the same for him.
I didn't realize how much the world had changed ... and how much it had stayed the same.
It's been five years now since my son graduated from high school, and those few years have given me a little space. I've gone through the empty nest and come out on the other side. Now, finally, I can look back on that incredibly difficult year and see it for what it was. See me for who I was, and see the mistakes I made along the way. And I made more than a few, believe me.
In retrospect, I think we underestimate the immense pressure our kids are operating under in that last year of high school. We don't realize how much they want to make us proud ... and how much they fear failing. They're ready to fly away from the nest, but they don't really want to test their wings. Everything is dangeroustests can be suddenly failed, teams can lose, application deadlines can be missed, hearts can be broken.
And then comes spring. The party season.
Believe me, whatever you remember abouthigh school parties hasn't changed. Teen parties still spring up like mushrooms in dark, quiet places, far from adult eyes. Weekend after weekend.
"How could I have been a better mother?"
For me, this became the most challenging time of all. As I said before, I am a person who researches things. I pride myself on my ability to gather knowledge. I don't want to operate in a don't ask/don't tell world. I believe in honesty and transparency. Unfortunately, there's a price to all that honesty. Sometimes your kids tell you what you don't want to hear.
In looking back, I have tried to come up with The Answer. The right way to parent in that stressful, dangerous year. What should I have said about all the pressures he was under? How could I have been a better mother? How should I have dealt with the threat of teen drinking and driving? What's the right answer when the partying starts?
These are the questions that started me out on Night Road. The novel is my exploration of the year that is so pivotal, both to parents and kids.
It was definitely stressful. It was also exciting, exhilarating, and magical. Here's what I didn't know then: Everything I said to my son, he heard. I didn't need to say it twice or underscore it or remind him. He heard it all and took what he needed. In the end, we both grew up and learned that trickiest of skills: how to let go and hold on at the same time.