NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah
Poverty stricken, abused, motherless teen, Lexi, befriends rich overly-mothered teens, Mia and Zach, and high school tragedy ensues. I read the first chapter of NIGHT ROAD in a waiting room after shunning People Magazine. Even though the story was already veering toward hackneyed, the writing was so compelling that after my appointment, I went out and bought the book. This is very much a when bad things happen to good people story, along the lines of a Jodi Picoult novel. The characters are a little too idealized, the story line a little too cliché, and it’s not really my taste, but I don’t deny I was riveted. Funny thing happened when I went to fetch an image for this post. I noticed Stephanie at Misfit Salon had reviewed NIGHT ROAD [favorably] in March. Since I try never to miss a Misfit post, I’m not sure how this one got past me. Had I read Stephanie’s description of the book, I probably would have realized this wasn’t my sort of story and opted for People Mag. Did I mention I was riveted?
THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE by Pat Conroy
It’s the mid 60s, the war in Vietnam is escalating, and Will McLean, a Savannah boy and our narrator, is a cadet at the Carolina Military Institute (read: The Citadel). Much of the book explores the institute’s plebe system with a nod to Charleston’s caste structure. The story takes a turn toward suspense when Will, in his senior year, is assigned to keep an eye out for Tom Pearce, the first black plebe in the history of the Institute. A clandestine group wants Pearce out. I loved this book. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it two days later, all 500+ pages. What’s not to love? Wonderful storytelling, lyric prose, conflict, romance, humor, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal. Most important? Memorable characters I truly cared about. I admit to figuring out the end twist long before I arrived, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. By far the most memorable novel I’ve read this year. [Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Southern Gothic]