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
"Mitchard dissects feelings of loyalty, betrayal and guilt with such aplomb, the book moves along like a thriller." Life magazine
"From our petulant, prideful heroine to her sullen-yet-saintly son, each character's complexities shine..." Washington Post
"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
"The Breakdown Lane takes the reader on a journey of love and loss, self-discovery and synergy, a satisfying story..." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"[Mitchard] takes emotional family events and makes something fresh yet familiar about them..." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Every family has its catastrophes . . .
Julieanne Gillis's family collects them. An advice columnist for a local newspaper, Julie dispenses wisdom to her readers, but somehow missed the signs that something was wrong in her own home. Devoted to being a good mother and keeping her twenty-year marriage fresh and exciting, she is shocked by her husband's surprise announcement that he needs a "sabbatical" from their life together -- and devastated when he disappears, leaving Julie with no funds to raise two teenagers and a small daughter alone. But it is the discovery that Julieanne suffers from a serious illness that truly crumbles her family's foundation -- setting her children on a dangerous, quixotic journey to locate their missing father . . . before it's too late.
About the Author
New York Times bestseller Jacquelyn Mitchard's novels include The Deep End of the Ocean, Twelve Times Blessed, and The Breakdown Lane. She is also the author of The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship, a collection of her newspaper columns. She lives with her husband and six children in Madison, Wisconsin.