Book Reviews

Book Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah – Two Friends Brave the River of Life

I’m not usually one for chick-lit.  It’s generally just not what I read as I’m not heavy into sappy romance and find the protagonists more annoying than anything else.  Still, when offered the chance to read Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah I was more than happy to give the book a chance.  By the end of the book, it had drawn me in to the characters and left me bawling.

Firefly Lane is the story of a life-long friendship between two girls, Tully and Kate.  Tully’s mother has drifted in and out of her life for years, leaving her as a young child with her grandmother for long periods.  After a summer where they live across the road from Kate’s family, the girls form a close friendship and Tully eventually comes to live with them for a period.  It’s Tully’s dreams that seem to be dragging Kate along with her.  Kate’s not sure what she wants from life, although Tully seems to have enough ambition for the two of them.  Kate’s family embraces Tully and accepts her as if she has been with them forever.

However, there are rivalries. Kate feels lost at times against the backdrop of the more beautiful Tully.  Kate is the rock, the one men see as a friend while they all seem to want Tully.  When they both begin working at a television station, something of a triangle ensues with Kate falling for Johnny, a segment producer, who ends up having a thing for Tully.

Firefly Lane is a good story about the ins and outs, ups and downs of a friendship over a lifetime.  I recently had a conversation with the girl in the house who’s about to begin college about sometimes having to be the bigger person in a friendship and forgive someone for their shortcomings and apologizing even if you don’t believe you did anything to apologize for to keep the friendship strong.  That is the exact backdrop to Firefly Lane as the love and bond between the two girls and later women must transcend all of the little and big things we do to hurt each other in life.

Kristin Hannah wrote this quite well.  I was a bit younger than Tully and Kate are, but still, I could remember all the things she brings up when giving their history together.  Her descriptions are thorough enough that I really felt like I was picturing the events she describes, as well as the clothes and hairstyles because I pretty much lived through the same time.  She builds the relationship between the two women and made me care about them and their families throughout the book.  This is why as I read through to the end of the story, it drew out such emotion in me and I didn’t want it to end.  I could relate to the characters and see some mirrors of my own life in them.

The flow of Firefly Lane is good as it doesn’t jump around too much and I generally could pick up the plot.  There were a few times when there was a jump in time that wasn’t immediately clear, but it was just a paragraph or so and then I was right back in the story.  The only other issue was that at times as Tully becomes more successful, I felt like she had less depth.  I’ve read books with similar characters before and where there is good depth to Tully in her younger years and with Kate and her family, suddenly she just seems to devolve into a typical character who becomes wildly rich and successful.  At this point, Kate would be the more interesting character to me.

I can’t say this is light summer reading for beside the pool as without tissues nearby I would have ended up looking like a blubbering mess by the end of the book.  It had that much impact on me, someone who’s sworn of “chick-lit” forever.  It packs a heavy emotional punch near the end, but for the rest of it, you’ll find typical light summer reading.  I highly recommend Firefly Lane and will likely look up more of Kristin Hannah’s work now.