Review: HARD ROAD by Bob Spearman
Rated 5 out of 5 stars by Iris Chacon.
The reviewer received a complimentary download of the novel in exchange for an objective and honest review.
Author Bob Spearman transports the reader to modern day Charleston, with its natural beauty, historical significance, and rich Low-country cultural aura, in his novel, Hard Road.
The road of life has indeed been hard, even tragic, for truck driver and war veteran Hank. It has been even more brutal and horrific for Laurel, who is trying to kill herself when the story begins. Unfortunately for Hank, Laurel throws herself in front of his truck, causing him to run over her. He leaps from the truck to try and help the seriously injured (and highly ungrateful) woman, and his life is linked to hers from that moment onward.
But do not be misled; this is no standard boy-meets-girl story. No romance, nor even friendship, suddenly blooms from Hank and Laurel’s bizarre, macabre encounter.
These two people could not be more different — one from poverty and one from the elite families of Charleston — but they will begin to discover many ways in which they are the same. Their relationship and their experiences include addiction, depression, alcoholism, and loss. Author Spearman reveals the present and past in alternating scenes that will wrench your heart and mesmerize your mind. I dare you to shed no tears.
As the story progresses, and both Hank and Laurel go into separate spirals of desperation, their disparate dilemmas become woven together into a narrative, the climax of which you’ll never see coming. Oh, you may make a few lucky guesses, but prepare to be surprised, as well.
This work of fiction is a treasure for many reasons, not least of which is that Spearman educates the characters, as he does the readers, with regard to mental illness, bipolar disorder, depression, and PTSD. For the many people (and their loved ones) who suffer in secret, there are positive, encouraging, helpful lessons here.
Spearman’s fluid prose delights the intellect and the emotions simultaneously. For example, Hank justifies his questions about Laurel’s past with, “I think the story is important, otherwise I’m not gonna know how to think about the ending. I think you need to know the journey to appreciate the destination.” Of Charleston high society, Laurel comments, “Destroying a person’s self-esteem was a sport for them,” and at another time, “Words are a southern lady’s most potent weapon.”
There are other gems scattered throughout the story. I noted, “…she once used a phrase that still haunts me, and has built my fear since I first heard it; she said that people unsuspectingly fall prey to the silent, swooping taloned grip of mental illness.” And there was also, “I’ve heard about other couples that die weeks or months apart. Maybe their lives beat with the same heart.” I also enjoyed this short burst of truth, “The struggle adds value to success.”
I recommend Hard Road to readers who enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) or A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving). The writing is top notch and the story inventive and original. Note that, although the novel contains a minimum of questionable language or other offensive matter, the plot and subject matter may be too intense for tweens or teens. There is incidental violence.
and be sure to visit Bob’s Author Page on Amazon.
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