READ: Review, Night Road by Kristin Hannah
“You have to live it to understand.” That expression applies to much of human experience, but none more heartbreaking than the loss of a child.
In Night Road, newest release of bestselling novelist Kristin Hannah, we gain fresh depths of understanding into this tragedy and its impact. But we also see the devastation of lives largely devoid of relationship to God. Without a firm faith-foundation, life’s storms not only pound—they crush.
No one learns this better than Jude Farraday. As Night Road opens, she seems to have it all: contented life as wife to surgeon Miles and mother of twins Zach and Maia; sprawling island home; fulfilling volunteer work; and a garden she keeps in perfect order. But as the book progresses, the weeds in Jude’s garden—and the cracks in her porcelain-perfect world— don’t take long to appear.
The first of these cracks is Lexi, foster child and recent transplant to the Farradays’ community. Lexi’s background couldn’t be more different than theirs, but her heart is drawn to one, then more family members in explicable bonds. As the mesh of relationships plays out, both love and woundedness have their effects.
The author’s choice to narrate from the points of view of both the female protagonist and antagonist gives the novel an almost lopsided feel. Even the strong personalities of Miles and Zach seemed overshadowed by the women in their lives. And the book’s single explicit sexual reference seemed as out of place as a token swear word in an otherwise family-oriented movie.
I won’t spoil the story. But I will affirm Hannah’s giftedness as a writer. Night Road’s moments of raw wonder outweigh any weaknesses. And Hannah’s reach-out-and-touch characters drove her story off the night road and into my heart. I caught glimpses of my own maternal nature in Jude’s fierce love for her children and her anger over the senseless incident that took a precious life. But I also saw myself in Maia’s insecurities and Lexi’s hunger for love at what became a huge cost.
The stories we love best are those in which we recognize our own. Hannah’s story achieves this goal as it points toward hope, truth, and ultimate meaning. The Night Road is one I recommend you take—and soon. You’ll find yourself on a ride to remember.
Have you read other Kristin Hannah novels? Does the theme of how a child’s death changes a family resonate with you? Feel free to share.