Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. ISBN 0312359446.
Reviewed by Janet Caplan
Posted on 05/25/2007
The Rhythm of the Road is the U.S. debut novel of Albyn Leah Hall, an American-born, London-based writer. Rhythm is an apt description of the theme running throughout this fascinating story; the rhythm of driving the open road high up in the front seat of an eighteen wheeler, the rhythm of the country music that accompanies the key players in the story as they drive that open road, and the rhythm of the larger journey—the journey of life—being embarked upon by the central character, Jo, as she seeks to bridge her life together.
We meet Jo in England at the age of twelve, where she is living with her Irish-born father after her mother abandoned her at birth and returned to the United States. Jo lives and loves her father's life; that of an independent truck driver married to his rig and the highway. One source of enjoyment along that road is listening to American country music. The pair's love of a particular band's music leads them to attend one of the band's concerts where they are fortunate enough to meet the group members. Jo becomes obsessed with the female lead singer, Cosima, and after her father's lapse into depression and subsequent disappearance, Jo follows the band to the States, hoping to forever endear herself to Cosima. Various adventures and misadventures ensue with Jo's journey coming to a halt when she meets her mother for the first time.
The story's dialogue is believable, as are Jo's thoughts about herself maturing, her place in the world and her questions about her family and the choices they have made. The action takes place over a six year period, until Jo is 18, and although the circumstances may be unique, the changes that occur in her personality to that point are well depicted and, I think, accurately and clearly described. The story itself is gripping and holds the reader's attention throughout. Most of us can probably relate to Jo's emotional growing pains. Couple that with a story that captivates in its originality, and I would say that The Rhythm of the Road is definitely worth the trip.
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