• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

As the young men in The Lincoln Highway face challenge after challenge, they grow, learn, and fight for resolutions to difficult situations.

“...those who are given something of value without having to earn it are bound to squander it.”

It's June 1954, and eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson has just served fifteen months on a juvenile work farm for involuntary manslaughter. The family farm in Nebraska has been foreclosed upon, his mother is gone, and his father has recently died. Emmett's planning to pick up his eight-year-old brother Billy and head west to start a new life.

But when the warden drops him off at home, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm hitched a ride in the trunk, and they're set on having the group of boys light out for New York City instead.

Things continue to go awry for Emmett and Billy as they meet hiccup after hiccup in their plan, and they have problematic, sometimes dangerous encounters requiring quick thinking, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

The boys and the members of their entourage also each fight to tie up loose ends in their lives, explore new paths they might take, and learn about themselves.

I was curious about what would happen to the boys collectively and individually, although I didn't feel any emotional connection to their plights. Towles crafts a solid historical fiction adventure for his young-men protagonists, balancing weighty consequences and satisfying resolutions.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Towles is also the author of A Gentleman in Moscow, which I really liked, and Rules of Civility, which I was even more taken with--the old NYC setting was so vivid, it felt like its own character.