Saturday, September 13, 2008

FireFly Lane By Kristin Hannah brings memories, laughter and tears

Debbie said “Mame, it is going to make you laugh and cry. You better keep the Kleenex close by.” My co-worker and fellow bookworm was talking about Kristin Hannah’s newest offering Firefly Lane. I have to say here and now I am not a huge fan of mushy books. Beaches, neither the book nor the movie, did very much for me. Danielle Steele got old after the Promise, so I didn’t think I would be interested in Ms. Hannah’s book. Debbie however is nothing if not persuasive and managed to convince me to give it a try, she said, “The main characters of the book are our age and it will take you back Mame .” I had to give a try since she is the one who turned me onto the The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I loved it!
I have to acknowledge Debbie here and now. She gave me another winner with Firefly Lane.
The story is of two girls growing up in the Northwest in the 70’s and follows their friendship and relationships to present time. Kate and Tully are pretty typical teenagers in 1974. Kate comes from a middle class family while Tully’s childhood has been dysfunctional and even tragic. Kate is awkward. She struggles with the rules of mom and dad and dreams of being popular and cool. Tully is old beyond her years. Her mom is an aging flower child with a bad habit. She yearns for someone to love her. This unlikely pair becomes best friends and as the plot unfolds their friendship will be tested in a myriad of ways. Kate’s self esteem issues will eat at her while Tully’s need for love will make her lie to protect what she has. While the story grabbed me immediately with memories of Little Kittles, and Tab cola I stayed for the tension of a relationship that was born of mutual need and the struggle of keeping it together through the changes life brings. There is a lot in this story that feels very formula to me. Opposites become friends, one envies the other, misunderstandings seem to break them apart and a coming together of sorts in the end. What Ms. Hannah does with this formula makes this a great read. This felt like a very personal story to her. I have come to find out since it was very personal.
Once again, to say much more about the story will ruin it. I can tell you that I laughed at the memories Ms. Hannah invoked with Gunny Sax prom dresses, bell bottoms and platform clogs. I felt like she had stopped by my past and grabbed up some of my favorite parts and placed them with care into her story. Because Debbie had warned me of crying I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t get sucked in. The crying didn’t begin until the last 50 pages or so and I blubbered like a baby and it felt really good. My 18 yr. old son walked into my room and walked right back out saying, “Dad! Mom is crying over another stupid book. Why does she do that?” Thanks Debbie for another great read though I still disagree about Gone With the Wind.

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