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The Breakdown Laneby Jacquelyn Mitchard
Synopses & Reviews
Where can a woman turn when her own life threatens to overwhelm her ability to keep her children safe? New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard takes the readers of her newest novel on a wry and moving journey of loss and healing.
Giving advice is what Julieanne does for a living — every Sunday she doles it out to clueless people she doesn't know, in a column in her local Wisconsin paper. But when it comes to her personal life, Julie herself seems to have missed some clues. Having worked creatively to keep her twenty-year marriage to Leo fresh and exciting, she is completely caught off guard when he tells her he needs to go on a "sabbatical" from their life together, leaving Julie and their three children — Gabe, Caroline, and Aury — behind. But it soon becomes clear that his leave of absence is meant to be permanent. The succeeding months are filled with a confusion and sadness that shake the core of the entire family. Things take a turn for the worse when Julie is diagnosed with a serious illness and the children undertake a dangerous journey to find Leo — before it's too late. As the known world sinks precariously from view, the clan must navigate its way through the shoals of love, guilt, and betrayal. Together, with the help of Leo's parents and Julie's best friend, Cathy, they work their way back to solid ground and a new definition of family.
No one illuminates modern love, marriage, and parenting better than Jacquelyn Mitchard. Written with her trademark poignancy, humor, and insight, The Breakdown Lane is her most moving, eloquent,and life-affirming work yet.
"No one could blame Julieanne Gillis, beleaguered heroine of this no-holds-barred family drama by Mitchard (The Deep End of the Ocean, etc.) for not seeing the signs. At first her lawyer husband, Leo Steiner, seems to be in the throes of a midlife crisis, informing Julieanne that he is planning to take early retirement and go and live on a commune in upstate New York for six months. The next thing she knows, he's vanished, leaving her with three children and only her meager income from her advice column for the Sheboygan, Wis., local newspaper. To make matters worse, she's diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The narration alternates between plucky Julieanne and her 15-year-old son, Gabe, a handsome Holden Caulfieldesque loner with a mild learning disability. When things get desperate, Gabe and his 14-year-old sister, Caroline, scan their dad's old e-mails and learn where he might be. Then, during spring break, lying like troopers, the two juveniles take off by bus to find their father. Surely, they think, he'll come home when he learns that their mother is sick. He comes, but the baggage he brings along means further disaster. Leo's behavior is almost campishly craven, but the novel's soap-operatic bathos is perversely satisfying. Rousing melodrama; fluid, often funny, dialogue; and the convincing portrayal of children involved in the collapse of a marriage add up to another page-turner from Mitchard." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An astute observer of family dynamics, Mitchard renders her characters flawlessly, endowing them with a humanity that is both accessibly grounded and astonishingly deep." Booklist
"Although this novel could have easily become a maudlin disease-of-the-month book, Mitchard...handles the various themes of abandonment, illness, and family disappointment with finesse." Library Journal
"Mitchard...has crafted a completely engaging book that is more life-affirming than depressing....The Breakdown Lane...unfolds with a compelling mix of suspense, humor, and abiding humanity." Boston Globe
"This definitely comes from the 'men are such beasts' school of writing, but I couldn't quit....What makes this book so entertaining is how funny it is — particularly the sections written by Julie's teenage son, who is Holden Caulfield with a spell-checker." Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
"From our petulant, prideful heroine to her sullen-yet-saintly son, each character's complexities shine..." Washington Post
"[Mitchard] takes emotional family events and makes something fresh yet familiar about them..." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Mitchard dissects feelings of loyalty, betrayal and guilt with such aplomb, the book moves along like a thriller." Life magazine
"The Breakdown Lane takes the reader on a journey of love and loss, self-discovery and synergy, a satisfying story..." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
When her husband decides to defect from their life together, advice columnist Julianne Ambrose Gillis must carry on alone. In his absence, Julie is diagnosed with a serious illness, which drives her children to undertake a dangerous journey to find their dad.
About the Author
Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times best-selling author of Twelve Times Blessed, A Theory of Relativity, The Deep End of the Ocean, and The Most Wanted. Jackie is widely acclaimed for her literary achievements, but until now, few people have been aware that she is also a trusted one — a human who has been welcomed into mouse society. It is a great honor previously bestowed on the likes of E. B. White, Benjamin Franklin, and Marie Curie. Jackie became a trusted one while still in high school by rescuing an entire family of mice from the depths of a trombone just before a performance of The Music Man. She has enjoyed the company of mice ever since, and with starring prima!, she finally realizes a long-held ambition to share her insights into mouse culture with her fellow humans. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and six children.
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