Home Stretch by Graham Norton. (2020).
**3.5 out of 5 stars**
1987. A small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony a group of young friends, including the bride and groom, drive to the beach. There is an accident; 3 survive, 3 die. The lives of the families are shattered and rifts form. Connor is one of the survivors but staying in the angry town is as hard as living with the shame of being the driver. He leaves, taking his secrets with him. His journey leads to New York. The city is somewhere he can forget his past and forge a new life. But the secrets, unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. Connor will have to confront his past.
I can definitely see why people describe this author as an amazing storyteller. For me though while I appreciated this particular story, parts of it were just a bit dull as I think I prefer a little more action throughout. The book starts by glossing over many different characters before the accident – I understand why this was done to set the scene but it was a bit confusing at first switching between so many people. This settles down quickly as after the accident we predominately alternate between Connor and his sister Ellen, and later on a character introduced as Finbarr, with some look-ins from various other characters. While the book begins by concentrating on the accident and the effect of this on the town, when we go further into Connor’s timeline it is clear that he is ashamed of something else which results in him cutting everyone off for many years, which was quite sad really. Having been born in later years in a country on the other side of the world, I can only imagine that the author’s depictions of the attitudes of the time and place are accurate; it certainly felt realistic reading it. With many high reviews, if the synopsis interests you I’d certainly recommend picking it up.