Monday, July 11, 2011

Long Drive Home: A Novel by Will Allison

Long Drive Home: A Novel by Will Allison is a short but fervently emotional novel, written in the form of a confessional letter from a father to his daughter, telling her about the day he will regret for the rest of his life, telling her the full truth he suspects she already knows but which he has tried to deny. When the book begins Glen's daughter Sara is only eight years old, but she was six at the time her world changed forever. Glen made a mistake, let his rage get the best of him, and by the end of the day of a teenager was dead. As a narrator, Glen is frank and honest about the events that day, as well as his reaction to them and what happened in the two years afterwards. Long Drive Home as much about coming clean as it is an apology for the role that Glen forced Sara to play in covering up his mistake. It is about one moment, and how it can change everything.

From the first page, Long Drive Home is an intense novel, one which brings up powerful moral questions: what if you felt responsible for a death, but nobody else knew? Who would you tell? What would you do? These are the heavy questions Glen is left to face, and his response to them sends his life into the kind of tailspin from which it may never recover. Everyone who reads this book may have a different reaction to Glen, at many times he comes across as a coward, and yet, he does what anyone would be tempted to do and the longer he keeps quiet the easier it is to pretend things didn't happen... until he can't anymore.

Although this story is fictional, when reading Long Drive Home it is easy to forget that the author is not Glen, that this didn't really happen. The writing is so raw and emotional, the narrator so authentic, human and flawed. The language makes this an easy book to read, but the content does not. Allison will have you question your own morals, your own version of right and wrong, at least for an instance. The writing style is suitable for the form of a confessional letter, it comes across a bit like an internal monologue, but it was what Allison was saying, not how he was saying it, that makes the novel interesting.

Long Drive Home is not a book I ever see myself rereading, it is one of those cases were the story is so unpleasant and the message so strong I do not think I would ever feel the desire to pick it up again. In the end, I'm not sure if I really want to recommend this book, fiction may serve as an escape but in this case the reader is visiting a terrible and depressing world. Still, ultimately, Long Drive Home is a memorable and powerful reminder of how easy our lives can change when we let anger and denial get the best of us and it is a message that will stick with the reader long after the book is over. 

Release Date: May 17th, 2011
Pages: 224
: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab

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