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The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. Viking 2021 576 pp.

The Lincoln Highway was a route that ran from the East Coast to California. This tale starts in Nebraska.

Emmett who was eighteen years old had been serving a term at a work farm for involuntary manslaughter. He was not a bad or violent teenager, but during a fight with another teenager he knocked his opponent down who then hit his head when he landed and died.

Emmett has an eight-year-old brother and their mother left them years before. While he served his time, his father died and left his eight-year-old brother Billy alone with no parent or relative to take care of him. Also, the family farm was foreclosed on, and Billy had to be taken in by a neighbor.

The warden drove Emmett home, but unbeknownst to him two other prisoners – Duchess and Woolly – were hiding in his trunk and ended up at Emmett’s. Since they no longer have a farm, Emmett’s plan is to drive the Lincoln Highway to California where he believes their mother is living.

So, the four of them set out. Duchess and Woolly have their own agendas, and, with many stops and adventures along the way, they end up in New York City for a while. The whole story takes place over ten days but so much happens that it takes 576 pages to tell it.

Towles is an amazing writer. He has written Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow which were wonderful books.


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