Lexi and Mia are inseparable from the moment they start high school. Different in so many ways – Lexi is an orphan and lives with her aunt on a trailer park, while Mia is a golden girl blessed with a loving family, and a beautiful home. Yet they recognize something in each other which sets them apart from the crowd, and Mia comes to rely heavily on Lexi’s steadfast friendship.
Mia’s beloved, and incredibly good-looking, twin brother Zach, finds life much less complicated than his sister. Jude thought she’d never have to worry about her son, that he’d always sail through life easily achieving whatever he, and his family, wanted and expected – but then he fell in love.
The summer they graduated is a time they will always remember, and one they could never forget. It is a summer of love, best friends, shared confidences and promises. Then one moment one night changes them all forever. As hearts are broken, loyalties challenged and hopes dashed, the time has come to leave childhood behind and learn to face the future.
I was compelled to read this book because it had an intriguing blurb and was part of a TV book club, generally meaning that it has to be at least a half decent read. I kind of felt a bit let down by both of these premises. Night Road isn’t terrible, but in my opinion it didn’t live up to the hype of all its great reviews.
The story follows teenage orphan Lexi, the archetypal ‘good kid’ with an unfortunate past, who is taken from care by her Aunt and goes to live on a trailer park. When she begins school she forms an unlikely friendship with twins Mia and Zach, the privileged Golden children of Jude and Miles Farraday. When Zach and Lexi begin falling for each other it seems like the perfect scenario, but then one night changes everything and suddenly all of the characters lives are thrown into chaos.
I’d describe this book as easy reading, full of American clichés but with a bit of substance. It does tackle some dark and difficult issues but overall, I think some of the main ideas in the book are a little flawed and I wasn’t too keen on Hannah’s writing style – she seems to over describe material aspects such as gardens, houses and clothes rather than exploring the emotions of the characters. I actually felt like she neglected the male characters in the book massively. We hear a lot about Lexi, Jude, Mia and even some of the lesser involved female characters like Lexi’s Aunt and Jude’s mother. But Zach, supposedly one of the main three characters, is simply portrayed as your generic, popular American high school boy. Similarly, his dad Miles is just a typical doctor/easy-going dad type. There’s not really much else to them which I found disappointing.
Lexi, supposedly an intelligent person, seemed to make a string of bad choices but she seems to regain her sanity in the end. And Jude, who’s actions were questionable and who was overprotective to the point of irritating, was actually a great mother figure who gave a raw and realistic account of her grief. But I really didn’t like Mia at all – to me she came across as petulant, childish and a bit of a sap. I think it’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t like or can’t relate to the characters and that was one of the main problems I had with Night Road.
Despite this, there were some good points to the book. I loved the over-the-top, star-crossed-lovers articulation of Lexi and Zach’s blossoming teenage romance and I liked the direction in which Hannah steered the novel in the latter stages. This for me was when the book started getting good, but unfortunately it was just a little too close to the end for it to redeem itself fully.
I can’t see this is a book that changed my life and I probably wouldn’t read it again but it’d be a decent holiday read or a nice way to fill an afternoon. Unless you hate American high school kids, in which case… avoid it at all costs.