Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My thoughts on Rush Home, Road are varied. I will attempt to review this book in the most concise way possible, which I may find difficult with all these ideas I have.
I will start with--I very much enjoyed this novel. Obviously I must have a morbid taste in books, because I find sad stories to be the most interesting reads. However, I must not be the only person that feels this way; there's a reason why these books are so popular.
Other books that I could compare "Rush Home, Road" to are Someone Knows My Name: A Novel (The Book of Negroes), Secret Daughter and Brick Lane. There is nothing specifically alike within these books, but the themes of perseverance and hardships link these together in my mind.
Adelaide "Addy" Shadd is the likable protagonist of RHR. When we are first introduced to her, we meet through the eyes of six-year-old Sharla Cody, a girl who lives down the lane from Addy in their trailer park. The picture that Lansen paints of Sharla's life with her neglectful mother is heart-breaking. Addy agrees to take care of Sharla for two months in the summer, but Sharla's mother Collette tricks Addy and disappears, leaving the elderly Addy to care for the child on her own for any indeterminate amount of time.
The beautiful thing about this story is the intertwining of Sharla and Addy's thoughts. We slowly learn about Addy's life, the difficulties she suffered through and the way they made her the person she is. Sharla's learns many important lessons from Addy as she adjusts to being loved and taken care of.
Learning about Addy's tragic life is probably the most endearing part of the novel, especially as we note how Addy's relates to Sharla based on her past. Their unique relationship warmed my heart and I found myself rooting for them, even though I knew that Addy's age alone would not guarantee a happily-ever-after for them together.
The most interesting technique I discovered about this book was the blurring of the lines between Sharla, Addy and the past. Addy begins to see Sharla as her long lost daughter and the chapters based on her past begin to trickle into chapters written in current time.
I cannot think of much more that I could say without ruining the novel for any potential readers; it is a book that spans a life time and is full of beautiful little moments.
My only complaints were these:
First off, why do authors who write historical fiction tend to create characters who suffer their entire lives? Does the tragedy make the story that much more poignant? Can there never be a truly happy moment for them that will not be ruined?
Secondly, though I felt this was a great read, I felt disturbed that the sexual aspect of the book was so graphic. To clarify: there were no Harlequinesque scenes written, but the sexual inferences were graphic enough to have it removed from any high school reading list. In some ways, I wish that Lansen hadn't awkwardly inserted these random sexual occurrences.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book and I gave it four out of five stars. It was enjoyable to read a novel that is set in a nearby town, especially considering that rural Ontario doesn't often feature in fiction.
The last chapter caused my breath to catch and a small pricking to begin behind my eyelids. It was a compelling finish and I hope you read this novel.
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