Home stretch - Graham Norton

Reading Challenge Category: Free ARC from NetGalley

Official Blurb:

Shame and longing can flow through generations, but the secrets of the heart will not be buried for ever.
It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony a group of young friends, including bride and groom, drive out to the beach. There is an accident. Three survive, but three are killed.
The lives of the families are shattered and the rifts between them are felt throughout the small town. Connor is one of the survivors. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, he makes a home - of sorts - for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life.
But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to confront his past.

My Thoughts:

I went into this book blind; I didn’t know what it was about or even what genre it was. All I knew was that I’d enjoyed the one other Graham Norton book I’d read, so I took a leap of faith on this one when it became available on NetGalley.
I’m certainly glad I did, the story is beautifully written, and it draws you in, right from the start.
There are a lot of characters to get to know in the first chapter, which was overwhelming, as trying to keep everyone straight in your head and get into a new book can be quite challenging. Fortunately, this does settle down, and we predominately follow two main characters, Ellen and Connor. There are other voices interspersed throughout the story, and again it could be quite confusing whose head you were inside as it jumped from one to the other with no partition between the characters.
The story itself moves very swiftly through time. We started in 1987, and by the end, we were in 2019. The jumps were quite shocking as you were just getting to know the circumstances surrounding the characters, and then you were propelled through time. The time jumps did fill in the gaps of the past though, again, this was quite confusing trying to keep up with where you were in time. You could be in 2012 but reminiscing about the past five years. I’m not sure if there was a better way to do this and I can see what the author was trying to do, but it did just leave me a bit whiplashed trying to keep up.
The time jumps were needed though to really press home how one event in the past could affect the whole lives of our characters. If it had have been over a shorter period I don’t think it would have had as much of an impact.
I would put this in the contemporary fiction category; it is a story being told about secrets, hardships and consequences. Even though the two main protagonists were quite morose, you did really feel for them and want them to have a happy outcome.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I really must find the time to go back and read Graham Norton’s back catalogue. Despite the confusing layout of the book, it still made a profound impact on me, and I am giving this five stars.

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Home Stretch
by Graham Norton
Date Started
23rd September 2020
Date Finished
25th September 2020
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