Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah: A review
Kristin Hannah is the hugely popular author of at least twenty books, many of which are best sellers. I had never read any of them. I'm not sure if Firefly Lane is typical of her writing, but it is essentially a love story between two best friends. It follows the history of their friendship, begun in high school, for thirty years.
Kate Mularkey is the least popular girl in her school. In 1974, she is the nerd with glasses that everybody ignores. Then Tully Hart moves into the house across the street. Tully is the absolute opposite of Kate. She is the coolest girl in school and everybody wants to be her friend. But something terrible happens to Tully at a party one night and when she goes home, she happens to meet her neighbor Kate. Still distraught from her experience, she confides in Kate and Kate is sympathetic and comforts her. On the basis of this shared moment, the coolest girl in school chooses the most unpopular girl in school to be her friend. And soon they are best friends and inseparable. In high school, they come to be known as TullyandKate. They are thought of as a single unit.
Tully's dream is to become a television news anchor. She is single-minded in the pursuit of her dream and she pulls Kate into it. She assumes that Kate also wants to be a television news reporter and she promises that when she is hired, Kate will be hired also and they will work together. Kate, ever eager to please, goes along with the dream. And finally, when Tully is hired at a television station, Kate is secured a job there, too. And that's where they both meet John, a producer. Kate falls in love with him, but he only has eyes for Tully.
Tully continues to pursue her dream. Nothing can stand in the way of her pursuit. She has no time for love. She has serial sexual relationships, including a one-night stand with Johnny but none of this is serious. The only thing serious to her is her career.
Kate's dream is no longer to be a television journalist. She wants love, marriage, a family, but she can't admit it to Tully. Until finally she does and finally, the man she loves returns her love. They marry and settle down together and Kate's dream comes true.
Meantime, Tully's dream also comes true. She becomes an anchor on network news and eventually gets her own popular talk show. Through it all, she and Kate remain best friends and Kate's husband is the producer of her show. It's all in the family, so to speak.
The narrative continues to follow TullyandKate through the '80s, '90s, and 2000s through all their triumphs and tragedies, the joys and heartbreaks. It's not always smooth sailing for the friendship. They do have their disagreements and fallings out, but in the end, they are always there for each other. The book starts as a coming-of-age story and evolves into a lifelong love story between two best friends. It is essentially chicklit. While it has some nice moments in the portrayal of the friendship, I, frankly, began to feel manipulated by a writer who seemed to be guiding me toward the emotional highs and lows that she was trying to achieve in her readers. I don't like being manipulated.
Most readers of this book seem to absolutely love it. I found it tiresome and clichéd at times, although it also had its redeeming qualities and was rather successful in fulfilling the writer's goals. I wavered between a three and four-star rating and, as usual, ended up being generous.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars