Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rush Home Road by Lori Lansen

Rush Home Road by Lori Lansen was recently translated into Norwegian by Juritzen Forlag.

I saw the book on the shelf, read the blurb, and decided that I had to read it. I was in for a pleasurable and moving journey through Addy Shadd's life.

Addy Shadd is in her 70s and suddenly finds herself responsible for 6-year old Sharla who has been abandoned by her mother. Her initial misgivings aside, Addy quickly comes to realise that she can love Sharla like a mother, and the two become central in each other's lives. Addy, because Sharla needs a mother figure who loves her and who will actually raise her right, and Sharla, because Addy needs a child in her life to come to terms with all the disappointments and sorrows she's faced.

A central conflict in the story is how Addy is literally forced to abandon her home town Rusholme, leaving everything she loves behind, to start alone elsewhere. Addy's character builds strenght as she goes along, but there is always this pull to rush home. However, the wounds connected to Rusholme run too deep, and Addy resists this pull.

The kindness of strangers is a strong motif in this book. Addy herself is an example of this through taking Sharla in, but her own experiences of being helped by strangers might be the reason for her openness. Addy leaves Rusholme without money or food, but her kind heart and honest soul makes people help her and take to her. Addy finds friends she comes to love, and she manages to start a new life.

I found it interesting how important food is in the novel. For Sharla, it is central because at her mother's place she was often barely fed, and when fed, fed badly. For Addy, on the other hand, food is attached to identity, place and memory. Food is what connects her to her family. The apple snow her mother taught her to make as a young girl, is her father's favourite, and Addy knows how to make it just right. Addy in turn teaches Sharla how to make it, to heal a wound inside herself. Further, Addy's cooking skills have helped her make friends and to be useful when she's had to rely on others.

The story evolves around how Sharla and Addy interact and change through each other's influence, as well as the story of Addy's life. At times the story is deeply moving, even shockingly so, but it also has a light and funny tone. The end of the book, in which Addy finally rushes home to Rusholme becomes a symbolic home-coming for the both of them, and is beautifully, beautifully written. This is a novel that really comes full circle and that lets the reader down gently at the end.

Simply a must-read. Have your Kleenex ready.

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