“Grief can be like breaking a bone. You have to set it right or it can ache forever. I pray that someday you’ll understand that and forgive me.”
Holy wow, after finishing this book, it feels like I’ve just been through some kind of emotional marathon. My heart is racing. I feel out of breath. There are tears in my eyes. AND I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!!!!
Reading Night Road was a bit of a departure from my usual choice in books because, for the most part, I’m a hard-core romance reader. Kristin Hannah however, writes deeply emotional fiction novels that are more widely focused on all kinds of relationships, but not solely romantic ones. That being said, after reading The Nightingale (my review) earlier this year, I fell in love with her beautiful, powerful, evocative writing style and ever since then, I’ve been meaning to read more of her books.
Today, I was in the mood for two things: deep feels and beautiful writing but was open to any kind of storyline so I decided to try Night Road because even just reading the blurb made my heart ache and let me tell you…. this is now one of my all-time, I-will-remember-this-book-forever top favorites.
While Night Road is not a romance in the sense that the guy-meets-girl isn’t the sole focus of the book, the heart of this story is completely character-driven and all about different relationships and there absolutely IS a love story too. My God, such an intensely heart-wrenching love story. Like the kind of deeply-routed forever-love that is always present in your heart even if it can’t always be acted on. And oh boy, did it ever make me feel everything!!!! The prologue though was what completely sold me on the book — within two pages, before I’d even met any of the characters, I was already feeling emotional about their story…
“If anyone sees her here, just standing on this lonely roadside… it will all come up again. They’ll remember that night, so long ago, when the rain turned to ash…”
If you want to read the official blurb, just click here and you can read it on Amazon, but as a way to explain the story further, I’m actually just going to tell you about the characters…
First, we have Lexi, a foster child whose neglectful mother died of an overdose after being in and out of prison leaving her daughter to be bounced from family to family for years with no stability or sense of love and belonging. Until one day, they found a long-lost great aunt who didn’t have much in the world but still welcomed Lexi into her life with open arms and an open heart.
Then we have Jude — mother of teenage twins Mia and Zach — who was the well-to-do wife of a surgeon. Her children were entering high school (with Lexi) but their lives couldn’t be more different given the huge disparity in their socio-economic status. While it would be possible (and at times accurate) to label Jude as a helicopter mother, being shown her perspective in the story made it clear that the manner in which she was over protective and so deeply involved in her children’s lives came out of a deep sense of love and a desire to give them the very best life she possibly could…
“The media room was full of kids, as usual. Some women might be overwhelmed by the noise and mayhem, but not Jude. Years ago — back when the twins were starting sixth grade — she’d made a conscious effort to make her house welcoming. She wanted the kids to hang out here. She’d know herself well enough to know that she didn’t want to be dropping her kids off into another woman’s care; she wanted to be the one in charge… Some days, there were fifteen kids here, eating their way through her snack provisions like locusts. But she knew where her children were and she knew they were safe.”
Of the twins, Zach was popular and outgoing, while Mia was quiet and had trouble making friends, but even with their differences, they were very close and would do anything for each other.
Lexi and Zach met on the first day of school and although they instantly connected, Lexi also met Mia and they quickly bonded into best friends. The girl who had nothing and the girl who had everything. Complete opposites yet kindred spirits. And because of her friendship with Mia, Zach kept his distance from Lexi, not wanting to do anything that would compromise the one friend his beloved sister had finally made.
A few years later, we saw an almost ‘forbidden’ love grow between Lexi and Zach, born out of their connection on the day they first met, and their feelings for each other grew to a point where they finally decided that they they can no longer keep it secret from Mia and his family. But then one night, a horrific tragedy shattered all their lives and the consequences of it quite literally changed everything…
At 51%, my. jaw. dropped. Like holy fuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkk!!!!!!! I was pretty much rendered speechless. It’s safe to say that the story took a turn I was absolutely not expecting at all and I feverishly read on desperate to see how this could ever be resolved. The unfairness of it all tore my heart out!!!
Me at 58% –> THIS. BOOK. IS. KILLING. ME!!!!!!!! Holy angst!!! Gah!!!! MY HEART! Seriously just had to put the book down for a minute because I’m so angry-mad-hurt-sad-wanting-everything-to-just-be-okay!!!!!! AHHH. Ok. I just needed to get that out. *deep breath* I can do this…. *dives back in*
So I’ll be honest, prior to reading this book, I kind of thought or assumed the direction it would take. I mean, it’s pretty clear there’s an accident in the story so I thought it would kinda build up to the accident, then show us the aftermath and healing and such. But this went WAY above and beyond what I could ever have imagined. There’s a deceptively quiet start to the story, then……. hold on to your hat, because it turns into an emotional rollercoaster that seriously put my heart right through the wringer! I still can’t believe that she actually went to youknowwhat and that she was (!!!!!!!) too!! Did not see that coming!
By 83% I was cryyyyyyying!!!!!
I know this isn’t a specifically a romance but even still, the love story within it is SO DAMN POWERFUL and so painfully heart-wrenching that I almost couldn’t stand the depth of emotion I was feeling.
“I just… couldn’t look at him without remembering…”
“Remembering is okay.”
“Not the way I do it. It… breaks me.”
“Maybe you need to be broken a little before you can put yourself back together.”
Oh my gosh, and THIS:
“Do you still love her?”
He seemed to crumble at that. In his eyes, she saw both a fragile youth and a terrible maturity. “I’ve always loved her. I never even tried not to.”
I have to say that I seriously LOVE Kristin Hannah’s writing style. She can write like you wouldn’t believe. Honestly, she’s probably one of the strongest authors I’ve ever read. The way she describes characters and relationship dynamics is downright brilliant. Many of you know how much I love Kristen Ashley‘s romances, and in many ways I almost feel like Kristin Hannah is the KA of fiction novels if that makes sense. She just GETS people and their relationships with each other on such a deep level. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate the characters (you’ll probably go through a whole range of feelings with regards to them) but the way she describes them is just so vivid and believably accurate that they feel REAL.
So like I said, I’m a hardcore romance reader. Like literally for me, when there isn’t a romance as the focus of what I’m reading, I usually zone out of the story. I can read a 300 page romance book in 2-3 hours, but if I try to read most fiction books, it usually takes me like two weeks to get through the first half. BUT THIS AUTHOR??? I can’t get enough of her writing, and you know why? I think it’s because her stories are just SO character-driven and because she’s just so freaking good at interpersonal relationships that it satisfies that part of me that needs the emotional connection of a romance by giving me these deep feels but just in a different way. There are so many kinds of love in this world and Kristin Hannah doesn’t just focus only on romantic love, she explores all kinds. Within this book, we see mother/child relationships, brother/sister, father/daughter, first love, abandonment, parental support and failure, grief, sacrifice, romance, parenthood, sisterhood, friendships, shattered dreams, second chances, forgiveness, and pure all-consuming love. And because her writing is so amazing, I find myself so easily drawn into her stories because they’re just so powerful and believable and heart-felt. I just love it. Can you tell? Hehe.
This book is an emotional roller-coaster — you’ll laugh and you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with some characters and probably hate others. You may find yourself hating someone you loved at first and then loving someone you hated. But you may also find yourself forgiving things you never thought you would. You’ll fall in love and have your heart broken, then healed again… it’s just such a powerful journey.
I feel like with so many of the books I read, if I were to individually recommend them to readers one book at a time, there are some I’d recommend to certain readers and ones I’d recommend to others depending on the kinds of books I think they might most enjoy. But Night Road is one of those rare books that I’d honestly recommend to anyone and everyone. I’d recommend it to any reader who came to me, I’d give it to my friends, my family, a random person in a bookstore… I just feel like there’s something in here for so many different types of people. In many ways, it’s a very universal story regardless of whether or not you can personally relate to it. But bottom line is that I’d recommend it to anyone who loves to read. And if you’re a long-time follower of my blog and my recommendations, just know that while this book is a little different than my usual reads, but it fundamentally has all the things I love in it. And I promise that even though the journey throughout the book is often painful and heart-wrenching, the ending is worth it.
“What do I do next?”
“Follow your heart.”
Rating: 5 STARS!!!!! Contemporary fiction standalone.
*** MORE BOOKS BY KRISTIN HANNAH ***
All may be read as standalones. These are the ones I’m most interested to read.
The Nightingale is the only one I’ve already read (read my review).
Just click the covers for more info on each book.