Q Road
Bonnie Jo Campbell
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Q Road
Bonnie Jo Campbell
288 pages
August 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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As carefully constructed as a patchwork quilt, with colorful squares of quirky characters marching boldly from border to border, the denizens of Greenland Township, Michigan, are bound by the continuity of daily labor and an innate love of a rich and productive land. This is the very core of America, earth that sustains generation after generation of families.

Outside the city confines, sprawled across the countryside, each clan hones its particular idiosyncrasies. Q Road's main protagonists are three wildly different personalities inexplicably attracted to one another, forming their own familial trinity: father, child-bride, son, almost predestined to form a unit that fills the painful gaps in each other's hearts.

The iconoclastic Rachel, a seventeen year-old bride who marries for the security of land ownership, beats a path through life with virtually no guidance or social context, save that of her own invention. Her middle-age-plus husband, George Harland, a sixth-generation farmer, knows only that his days are bearable, even mysteriously joyful, with Rachel sharing his backbreaking work and love-drenched nights. He cannot imagine life without her. And twelve year-old David gravitates towards the Harlands, craving fatherly protection and the pure female strength of the stalwart Rachel, while his own mother becomes ever more distant and self-involved. On a day just waiting for trouble, David becomes the catalyst for catastrophe, one lapse of judgment forever changing the landscape of their future in ways none of them could have predicted.

Encroaching suburbia threatens Greenland Township as much as a failing farm economy; reconstituted city people are willing to tolerate only so much discomfort in their newly constructed rural environment. Sprinkled with quirky individuals, neighborhood malcontents and busybodies, Q Road overflows with the many faces of humanity, many of whom reach bravely toward their better selves.

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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