Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Summary from Goodreads: For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.
To hold on…
To let go..
Which road will you take?
For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows—her twins, Mia and Zach—are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy– until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.
Kristen Hannah’s Night Road is the February read for my face to face book club.
I enjoyed the book, but it’s another tough emotional read. So many lives were tainted by one mistake. The loss of a child, a sibling, and best friend all because of a bad choice. Of course Hannah treats a tough issue with great care and superb writing.
Because I read this book for book club I thought I would take a different approach to my review. I’m going to post some of the discussion questions and my answers. These questions are from Kristen Hannah’s website.
Jude Farraday is obviously a tenacious and committed mother. She very clearly tries to do anything and everything she can to keep her children safe. Do you think all of this effort makes her a “good” mother? Or is she over-invested in her children’s lives? Does this kind of micro-managing keep kids safe, or put them in a position where they don’t trust their own judgment? Jude Farraday is the ultimate helicopter mom. I think she is too invested in the lives of her children. Parents should be involved in the lives of the children, but micro-managing them does allow them to grow or to learn.
One of the powerful themes in this novel is the delicate balance a mother must find between holding on to her children and letting them go. How does Jude succeed in finding this balance? How does she fail? I don’t think Jude ever does find that balance. I believe that played a big part in what happened to Mia. She can’t even let go of her grief and care for what is left of her family. I’m not saying that grief over the loss of a child isn’t devastating, but if Jude had found some balance with her children, then she might have been better able to deal with her grief and care for those that survived.
On page 71, Jude observes that her husband accused her of being a helicopter parent, all noise and movement, hovering too close to her children, but if that were true, he was a satellite, positioned so far up in the sky he needed a telescope to track the goings on his own home. How does this sentence illustrate Jude’s view of motherhood? Is she right? Is Miles unaware of what’s going on in his children’s lives? How does Jude render Miles ineffective and what is the price for that? I don’t think Miles’ character was quite as well developed as the others. Most of the story focuses on Jude, the twins and Lexie. I think Miles is certainly on target when he refers to Jude as a helicopter mom. As for him being just a satellite parent, I think that’s the only role that Jude allows him to take. She forces him into that role – yet gets irritated with him about it. I don’t think Miles is unaware of what’s going on in the twins’ lives – it’s just that Jude has pushed him so far to the sidelines.
Jude seems to make all the rules for her children. Why does she ignore Miles’ suggestions and advice? Why does he let her? I couldn’t figure out why Miles let Jude make all the decisions. Was it because he’s a busy doctor – works outside of the home and Jude is a stay at home mom with her whole life tied up in the children? Was Jude’s personality so forceful that Miles just decided it was simply easier to let Jude make all the decisions? He does make some weak attempts to reel her in, but he is not successful.
For years, Jude promised her children than they could “tell her anything, that she would pick them at night up no questions asked.” But when put to the test, she fails. Can you understand why she disciplined her children for drinking? What would you have done? This is a tough one. I don’t want my children to drink. I don’t want them to get in the car with someone who does. If they do drink, I want them to call me so I can pick them up, but if there are no repercussions for the underage drinking, then isn’t the same as condoning it? I understand why Jude made the deal with them and I understand why she disciplined them. I think telling them there would be no questions asked was a mistake. It’s seems like a commitment that would be impossible to keep. As a result the twins didn’t trust her and that played a big part in what happened.
Lexi pays a very high price for her actions that night. Did she do the right thing by admitting guilt? Yes she did the right thing. I felt a lot of sympathy for Lexi, but while I think everyone was guilty for what happened, Lexie
Jude says at one point that she is seeking “justice” from the court. Is she? Did she find it? I don’t think that she was looking for justice. I think she was looking for revenge. And she certainly got that, but it wasn’t enough.
Assign blame for what happened on that tragic night. How much of what happened is Lexi’s fault? Zach’s? Jude’s? Mia’s? They are all guilty. But as sorry as I felt for Lexi and even though at times I do think the punishment she received was rather harsh, the bottom line is that her mistake cost the life of her best friend. She was the one was the most sober.
I found this to be a very good book. It’s certainly not an easy read. All of the characters, with the exception of Miles are very well developed. I loved Lexi, Zach, Mia, Grace and Aunt Eva. I did not like Jude. She was too overbearing and I had a serious problem with the fact that she was unwilling to accept any blame for what happened. It was also hard for me to read about the way she treated Grace. The story does have a happy ending and I’d like to think that in the part of the story that we don’t read, Jude becomes more likeable.