Author: Graham Norton
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: June 22, 2021
Book Description: In this “compelling, bighearted, emotionally precise page-turner” (Sunday Times), the New York Times bestselling writer and acclaimed television host explores the aftermath of a tragedy on a small-town to illuminate the shame and longing that can flow through generations—and how the secrets of the heart cannot stay be buried forever.
It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony, a group of young friends, including the bride and groom, are involved in an accident. Three survive. Three are killed.
The lives of the families are shattered and the rifts between them ripple throughout the small town. Connor survived, but living among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as carrying the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, he eventually makes a home—of sorts—for himself in New York, where he finds shelter and the possibility of forging a new life.
But the secrets—the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind—will not be silenced. Before long, Connor will have to confront his past.
A powerful and timely novel of emigration and return, Home Stretch demonstrates Norton’s keen understanding of the power of stigma and secrecy—and their devastating effect on ordinary lives.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review: Let me start this review, by saying I almost marked this as a Did Not Finish, but I am absolutely so glad that I stuck with this, as the payoff for this book was just so satisfying.
The book starts in 1987 when an accident happens the day before a wedding in a small Irish town. The bride and groom from that wedding were involved. Some people did not survive, but for the ones that did, this leaves their lives shattered and upended.
The story centers around Connor and Ellen. We do know that Connor was involved in the accident, and survives, but quickly leaves town not to be heard from again in many years. Ellen his sister, is left wondering about her brother for many years to come. Both of their lives diverge on a path that was very unlikely to happen, if this accident did not occur.
This was a wonderful rich story that is told over multiple decades. I found myself completely engrossed in this book, that I did not want this to end. This is a complicated families novel at it’s core, which is a big plus for me. There are so many hidden secrets, that Norton provides that it will have you turning the pages as fast as you can. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Thank you NetGalley and HarperVia for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.