Book talk: “Firefly Lane”

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin’s Press, 2008 (ISBN 0312364083)
Fiction, 496 pages

First sentence: They used to be called the Firefly Lane girls.

Book Description: They were known as the Firefly Lane girls — a single, inseparable unit. On the surface, they were as opposite as two people could be. Kate, doomed to be uncool, had a loving family. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, had a secret home life that was destroying her. The best friends promise to be there for each other forever — and for thirty years, that promise holds strong. Then events and choices make that promise impossible. Firefly Lane is.. the story of a generation of women who were blessed — and cursed — by choices. It’s about promises, secrets and betrayals. Ultimately, it’s about the one person who has the power to hurt — and heal you.

Comments: This is the first book I have actually been offered for review (via Authors on the Web). I had heard of the author, but associated her name with the romance genre, and since I don’t read in that genre at all, I haven’t read any of Kristin Hannah’s books before. However, the premise of this one interested me; I find lifelong-friendship stories appealing, maybe in part because I haven’t been fortunate enough to have one of my own (besides my sister, of course).

Firefly Lane was a pretty quick read for me, because I found it to be essentially plot-driven, and the plot was pretty involving. The course of Tallulah “Tully” Hart and (the unfortunately named) Kate Mularkey’s friendship over more than thirty years follows them through college, careers, families, bonding, fighting, and Life. While they come of age at a time when women are encouraged to go for “having it all,” they essentially find themselves each having part of it and missing out on another; Tully has the big career, and Kate’s family becomes her career. The history between them keeps them together as their paths diverge and each comes to envy the other to a degree, until that history is unexpectedly betrayed.

I would have liked more character development here, although I did come to like both Tully and Kate. I thought their main qualities were established early on – Tully’s abandonment issues and ambition, and Kate’s drive for security – and although a lot happened to them, neither seemed to grow all that much as people beyond those traits. Many of the other characters were even sketchier, and I never really got a sense that any of them had much of an internal life.

Because the book moves forward mainly through plot elements as opposed to theme or character, I don’t want to get too detailed in discussing it, so as to avoid spoilers. I did find it compelling, in a melodramatic, Lifetime-movie sense, although the male characters weren’t all duplicitous and mean. That probably sounds more negative than I intend it to be. The story follows a fairly classic women’s fiction framework – which is not the same as a “chick-lit” model – and takes its characters through life passages and crises that many women can identify with; work, love, kids, etc. Although some parts of the story were predictable, I wanted to see how they unfolded; and I even though I would have liked to have more of Tully and Kate, I did get invested in their story.

This really isn’t a novel I would have sought out on my own, but I think there’s probably a good-sized audience for it, and if it is your kind of thing, I’d recommend it. As I got further into the book, I found myself liking it more – more in general, and more than I expected to. Kristin Hannah’s writing is solid throughout, and I found Firefly Lane to be an enjoyable place to spend a few days.

Rating: 3.25/5

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4 comments

  1. Books like this are hit and miss with me. I can see why this one interested you. It does me too. Great review, Florinda. I love how you add a part of yourself to your reviews.

  2. Literary Feline – I try to include objective information about the books when I write about them, but as you know, much of one’s reaction to a book is subjective. Books like this are rather hit-or-miss with me too, but this one was mostly a hit.

    If you’d be interested in a slightly-used copy of Firefly Lane, e-mail me – the link’s in my Blogger profile – and I’d be glad to send it to you.

  3. I don’t tend to like books like that: plot is nice, but characters and emotions are integral, for me. Like you say, it’s often hit or miss. I’m glad it was a hit for you.

  4. Rebecca – As I said, I liked this better than expected. Even though it was more plot-driven, I cared about how the characters were affected by the plot, which is probably why it worked for me.