Friday, October 24, 2008

The Breakdown Lane by Jacquelyn Mitchard

From the back cover: Giving advice is what Julieanne does for a living – every Sunday in an advice column in her local paper. But in her own life, Julieanne missed some clues. She is completely caught off guard when her husband, Leo, tells her he needs to go on a “sabbatical” from their life together, leaving Julie with three children. Things worsen when Julie is diagnosed with a serious illness and the children undertake a dangerous journey to find Leo – before it’s too late. As the known world sinks from view, the clan must work their way back to solid ground and to a new definition of family.

The characters in this book are at first difficult to like. Julieanne with her WASP’y upbringing and ballet dancing isn’t very sympathetic. The teen daughter Caroline is such a caricature of a selfish teenager that she is simply Sharpay on the page rather than the screen. There’s nothing to like about Leo – bastard – he never redeems himself in my eyes. And then there’s the son. I liked the teen boy character but I wasn’t sure that I liked his alternating narrating the story with his mother Julieanne. His voice was just enough “off” that it felt contrived. But then I just kind of let the story wash over me, suspended reality, and enjoyed it. I really wanted to know what happens to this family. I wanted to know so badly that I stayed up half the night to finish it and was a zombie at work today!

Jacquelyn Mitchard has a good batting average with me. This one didn’t “hit it out of the park” but it was solidly entertaining – and that’s why I read! Compared to the others that I have read, this ranks third. It’s behind number one – Deep End of the Ocean, and number two – Cage of Stars. But it is way in front of The Most Wanted (blech). The thing I hated about Most Wanted was the lead young male character and the poetry. Those two yucks are both in this one too but as I said the boy character is not that hard to endure and the poetry is much sparser than in Wanted and, thus, easier to ignore.


Beth F said...

Thanks for the review. I loved Deep End of the Ocean and I have Cage of Stars here waiting to be read. I think I'll either avoid or at least hold out on the other two.

Kim said...

I read this one a few years ago and didn't think I liked it at first, but the further in I got, the more the young male character grew on me. I haven't read Cage of Stars...will have to look for it.