The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles was not at all what I expected, but it was a terrific read. In 1935, the actual Lincoln Highway began in Times Square, New York and crossed the entire country, ending in San Francisco. I expected a “road trip” story, but this novel centered on characters and their journeys, with only snippets of time on the Lincoln Highway.
The trip begins in Nebraska as a warden is taking 18 year old Emmett Watson home to his family farm. Emmett has been at a juvenile work farm, but has been released early to care for his brother, Billy, after their father’s death. Their plan is to drive along the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco – Billy hopes to find their mother, and Emmett wants to start a new life. But the journey is sidetracked almost from the beginning as the boys are joined by Duchess and Woolly (two of Emmett’s friends from the work farm) and quite a few other interesting characters. The adventures just keep coming in this novel and Towles really lets you see into the minds of the characters through his great writing.
This is a long book – about 600 pages, but an enjoyable read. Along the way, the adventures made me feel so many emotions – surprise, fear, disappointment, hope, understanding, and more. There are moral dilemmas for several of the characters and eight year old Billy changes the lives of several people they meet. I hope you decide to take a trip on the Lincoln Highway with this book!