Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan
Review copy provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s Program

Lexi Baill has never had a place to call home. After her drug-addicted mother left her, she bounced from foster home to foster home for years. Finally, the system discovered that she has an aunt, who welcomes Lexi with open arms into her home as if she were her own daughter. At Lexi’s new school, she meets twins Mia and Zach – Mia quickly becomes her best friend, and slowly she and Zach become more than friends. Mia and Zach’s mom, Jude, becomes like a second mother to Lexi, and she has never felt so loved. But one summer night one bad decision changes all of their lives. The new family Lexi thought she was a part of is torn apart, and Jude and Lexi are both left questioning if life will ever be worth living again.

Prior to reading Night Road, I had only read one Kristin Hannah novel and had always been planning to read more, so I began reading this book without even a clue of what the book was about. I was drawn into the lives of Lexi and Jude immediately, and for the last 200 pages of the book I literally did not put the book down once. I was pleasantly surprised to find just how much I enjoyed the novel. For this review, however, I can’t say a lot about the plot because I was completely surprised by 99% of what happened and I definitely think the fact that I didn’t know any spoilers enhanced my reading experience.

What I will say is that Hannah did a remarkable job with these characters. Lexi, Jude, Zach, and Mia felt like real people to me – I truly got to know them on an extremely intimate level. I felt their pain, laughed with them, and rejoiced for them when things went well. I was so emotionally invested in these characters and their story that I found myself sobbing for the last 20 or so pages. I typically don’t cry when reading books, so that’s quite an accomplishment! While I can’t say that I liked each of the characters – Jude especially grated on my nerves quite a bit – I found them each to be well-crafted and complex.

The pacing of Night Road was done exceptionally well. The book spans a pretty large chunk of time – about 10 years or so – and yet, it never felt rushed at all. It felt completely natural to be with these characters throughout so much of their lives. The fact that so much time went by in the course of just 400 pages really added to my attachment to the characters – reading about them throughout so much of their lives definitely helped me get to know and understand them on a deeper level.

While Night Road isn’t an extremely literary novel, the writing wasn’t bad. I didn’t notice any awkwardness with word choice or sentence structure, both of which I sometimes find in these types of books.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel. I found myself completely enraptured with the story and really fell in love with the characters. I definitely plan to read more Kristin Hannah in the future!