From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—-beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—-jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.
Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—-and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.
Book Review: ★★★★★★
It is not very often that I read a book that I engage with the characters on an emotional level. Usually my involvement in the story, and the characters is on an intellectual level. Also, I usually avoid reading books that are written about the 70′s and the 80′s — mainly because I find that the stories are a huge let down, in comparison to my memories of these times. (I guess you could say it is hard to compete with the real thing.) So when I bought this book because it looked interesting while I was standing in a grocery store check out line — I took it home, started it, and then it promptly went to the shelf. I didn’t get past the first two chapters.
So over the holiday weekend, when I finished all of my books I had checked out from the library — and with the library being closed — what could I do but scour my shelves to find something to read. This is the book that came to hand. I am so glad that it did. The characters, and the time setting of this story are so intense — and real — that I fell in love, and never paid attention to anything else around me after that.
I found myself identifying with Kate so completely that I started living the story vicariously through her character. And the beauty, and experiences of her life became more like a friend than a character out of a novel. (Boy if that isn’t the mark of someone that spends way too much time reading books, I don’t know what is.) Simply put this is the story of friendship — the power that friendship brings, and the challenges that friendship has to overcome. It also speaks of the basis of friendship — and how it isn’t the differences and similarities that create the relationship, but rather the shared experiences and the events that pull two people together. The book reminded me, beginning to end, of a combination of the movies Terms of Endearment and Beaches, with the best of both of these movies being represented. And the presentation of the three decades that this story spans was so vivid, and so real that I found myself reliving my own childhood; the memories of my own life resurfaced throughout this book.
I did find that the book got to be a little burdensome in the middle — and I felt that the story could have been shortened, somewhat, without doing damage to the overall presentation. But that was really my only complaint with this book. Everything else about it, I lived, and loved. It is a powerful look into how friendships survive as lives separate and move in different directions — and how those powerful relationships endure through these changes. It is also the story of how much of a beating a true friendship can take, and still overcome, and survive in tact.
This is an excellent story, one that has been told with passion. A great book, that may have had a little melodrama — but it is forgivable due to the magnitude of the underlying story that is presents. A must read, but it does fall into the “chick lit” category.
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