28 November 2021

Review: HOME STRETCH, Graham Norton

  • this edition published by Coronet 2020
  • ISBN 978-1-473-66517-0
  • 362 pages

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Shame and longing can flow through generations, but the secrets of the heart will not be buried for ever.

It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony a group of young friends, including bride and groom, drive out to the beach. There is an accident. Three survive, but three are killed.

The lives of the families are shattered and the rifts between them are felt throughout the small town. Connor is one of the survivors. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, he makes a home - of sorts - for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life.

But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to confront his past.

Graham Norton's powerful and timely novel of emigration and return demonstrates his keen understanding of the power of stigma and secrecy - with devastating results. 

My Take

Connor knew there was no place for him in the town after the accident, especially now everyone knew he had been the driver of the car. Three of the passengers were killed, including a young couple who were to have been married the next day. A girl was left in a wheel chair. Just Connor and the car's owner, the son of the local doctor were virtually unscathed. Connor finds it impossible both for himself.and his parents and decides to leave. 

Over twenty five years later his nephew, the son of his sister and the doctor's son, accidentally finds him in New York, and Connor realises that he owes it to his parents to go home, and to reveal the truth of the accident. He has carried the burden for too long.

This novel is about far more than the accident and it's legacy. It is about a young man who needs to come to terms with his own sexuality, and the needs of the community to accept it too.

An intriguing book, which raises many issues in an empathetic fashion. Well worth the read.

My rating: 4.6

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