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First Look: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

First Look: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction—to the City of New York.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’ third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.

Rich and introspective prose

Clifford: So many stories have been set in the postwar American period that world-building leaves little to the imagination, but it gives greater emphasis on character development. I’m glad that the author kept the main cast to a handful and the narration to multiple points of view, giving the reader an almost 360-degree view of events occurring at the same time.

Jean: Amor Towles’ rich and introspective prose shine once again in this propulsive tale that takes place over just ten days and is told from alternating points of view. 

Heartwarming and nostalgic

Clifford: The Lincoln Highway is a six-hundred-page novel written by A Gentleman In Moscow author Amor Towles. I never read summaries and blurbs, so I initially thought this was going to be a period-piece road trip novel, or perhaps a fictionalized account of how the titular highway is built. Instead, I was proven wrong upon reading the first few chapters: it’s heartwarming, it’s nostalgic, and it’s full of detours.

Jean: Redemption, ambition, and compassion are woven throughout the novel, as each character (and some of the friends they meet along the way) struggles to atone for their sins, or free themselves from the past, in order to find a fresh start.

A well-paced novel

Clifford: The Lincoln Highway is, instead, an adventure that will take you from a small-town Nebraska to the dark recesses of 1950s New York City. It almost didn’t seem like a 600-plus page book, thanks to its well-paced story. And you know what? I’d love to read more about where the highway ultimately leads to.

Jean: Towles does an outstanding job in clearly showing each character as they are—virtues, vices, and all—without preaching or condescending. You will find yourself caring deeply for each one, and hooked from the first page to the last. Beautifully written by a master of the craft, The Lincoln Highway deserves a spot on everyone’s shelf.

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