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 on track for college and out of harm’s way. 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.
Ok, this is the first book of the year to make me cry like a baby. Twice. Kristin Hannah managed to tear me apart and then put me back together again with this one and it won't be soon forgotten.
At the start of Night Road, we are introduced to Lexi Baill, a foster kid who has just found out she has an aunt who is willing to take her in. Lexi's life has been hard, but it hasn't hardened her heart. While she's afraid of being hurt, she still manages to hold on to hope and stay open to the possibility of good things in her life. She's bent, but she's not broken. On her first day at a new school, she bites the bullet, puts herself out there and introduces herself to a girl she finds sitting alone reading a book. That girl is Mia Farraday and the girls end up becoming best friends. Mia is a central character as well. Under the shadow of her popular twin brother Zach, Mia has never been able to shine and suffers from shyness and self doubt, but Lexi and Mia's friendship brings out something special, beautiful and fragile in them both and over the years Mia blossoms and starts coming into her own.
Along the way Lexi and Zach fall in love. Afraid to hurt Mia's feelings, they keep their relationship secret for as long as they can....not just from Mia but from Zach and Mia's mom, Jude. It was a long journey for Jude to have kids so she is fiercely protective of them and, what some might call over-involved in their lives. But she is never an unlikeable character. If anything I identified with her character the most. Maybe because I'm a mom of a high school age daughter and I could relate to her feelings of fear and loss as she watched her kids grow up and get closer to the time when they would be adults and leave home. When your kids are little, you're afraid of so many little things but you never realize how much harder it is when they are older and not constantly under your watchful eye. So while Jude may have seemed overprotective at times, I could so easily understand her distress. It's not easy to hand your kid the car keys and watch them drive away from you.
Senior year finds all the kids planning for their future. Mia wants to study acting at UCLA and the plan is for Zach to attend medical school there. Jude is practically obsessed with all the applications and deadlines and making sure her twins go to school together. But things are different for Lexi. Her aunt is poor so Lexi's only option is community college and Zach is finding the idea of leaving her behind for school harder and harder to swallow and this causes serious conflict in the Farraday family.
Take all that pressure on the kids, throw in a senior party where alcohol is present and you have the recipe for tragedy. I won't reveal exactly what happens but it is heartbreaking and changes everyone's lives in huge, dramatic ways. And by the time it happened, I was so invested in these characters I felt like it was happening to people I knew. Seriously you guys, not since Katniss, Peeta and Gale have I had characters crawl into my heart and take up residence like these did.
There is SO much more that happens but to discuss any of it would be to give too much away. Suffice it to say I am confident recommending this book to everyone...from my 17 year old daughter to my 40 year old bestie (who I just loaned it to because I HAVE to get someone's else's reaction to this book!) Read it and prepare to have your emotions hijacked and taken for a ride down Night Road.