Sunday, August 29, 2010

Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press, 2008
Trade Paperback, 528 pages
ISBN-13: 9780312537074

From the Publisher
In the 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.
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 mainstay of their lives.
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.

My Thoughts:

Firefly Lane can be described as a re-adaptation of Beaches with an over abundance of period-appropriate product placement.

Publishers Weekly wrote: "Hannah goes a little too far into Lifetime movie territory in her latest, an epic exploration of the complicated terrain between best friends-one who chooses marriage and motherhood while the other opts for career and celebrity." Exactly. There is no new territory covered here. Exploring conflicts between women friends who choose a career over motherhood and marriage has been done countless times. This takes any poignancy out of the story because you know what's going to happen. It just makes the novel overlong and formulaic.

While I applaud the fact that Hannah did research for the book and set the story in a specific time, she went W-A-Y over the top in the obsessive name dropping of a wide variety of brand names, songs, clothing, and TV shows for each decade. At first the over abundance of 70's product names brought about some nostalgia, but felt forced and odd. Then it just went over the top, became distracting, and was, ultimately, darn annoying.

I will admit that the story flows well and is an easy, compelling read. The themes of betrayal and reconciliation, while very recognizable, are also very apparent. My biggest problem is that I didn't like either woman. I didn't like them as teens (since I am just a little older than these characters are supposed to be, I can tell you that I wouldn't have liked them in the 70's either) and I didn't like them as adults. I couldn't see WHY they were friends and why they remained friends. That simple fact alone detracts from anything Hannah did right in the book.

Rating this one is a problem. I did finish it, although I considered tossing it aside several times and there may have been some eye-rolling too. But... I did finish it.
Recommended - if you like chick-lit and Lifetime movies

3/7/11 update: My mother (in her 70's) read this book and really enjoyed it and the writing of author Kristin Hannah.


They used to be called the Firefly Lane girls. That was a long time ago—more than three decades—but just now, as she lay in bed listening to a winter storm raging outside, it seemed like yesterday. opening

For most of the country, 1970 was a year of upheaval and change, but in the house on Magnolia Drive, everything was orderly and quiet. Inside, ten-year-old Tully Hart sat on a cold wooden floor building a Lincoln Log cabin for her Liddle Kiddles, who were sleeping on a tiny pink Kleenexes. If she were in her bedroom, she would have had a Jackson Five forty-five in her Close 'N Play, but in the living room, there wasn't even a radio. pg.5

But Tully knew better. Somehow today she'd done something wrong, been bad. Next time her mommy came back, she'd try harder. She'd promise to be the president and she'd never, ever say she was sorry again. pg. 11

But things change fast. She knew that now. A horse could get old overnight and go lame. A friend could become a stranger just as quickly. pg. 16

And her clothes: low-rise, three-button jeans with huge, tie-died wedges of fabric in the seams to make elephant bells, cork-bottomed platform shoes with four-inch heels, and an angel-sleeved pink peasant blouse that revealed at least two inches of stomach. pg. 18

Mom touched her hand gently. "It's never good to sit around and wait for someone or something to change your life. That's why women like Gloria Steinem are burning their bras and marching on Washington."
"So that I can make friends?"
"So that you know you can be whatever you want to be." pg. 22

Within a week, Kate became cool by association. Kids raved over her new look and didn't turn away from her in the halls. Being a friend of Tully Hart's meant she was okay. pg. 45

Then he left her there, standing alone, surrounded by word ghosts, things she could have said. pg. 161


samantha.1020 said...

This is an author that I have heard a lot about but have never tried. Have you read anything else by her that you enjoyed more?? I'm planning on reading her at some point but I'm not in a huge rush to give her a try of anything. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

Lori L said...

This was my first book by Kristin Hannah. I picked it up in the clearance section of my local used book store thinking it would be an enjoyable summer read. I'm not planning to read any of her other books at this point. Maybe if I was a bigger fan of chick lit and Lifetime movies I would have liked it more. I just kept thinking "This is Beaches" as I was reading. She is a good writer, though...

Ελλάδα said...

This touching tale of friendship survives over decades. Makes one appreciate the friends in your life. At times I wondered how two such different women could build a friendship that survived life changing events