The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Penguin 3. Rawlins Postcard [CC BY 2.0] via flickr 4. Fireworks [Public Domain] via stockvault

Emmett has just been released from juvenile detention. With his eight-year-old brother Billy, he embarks on a road trip along the Lincoln Highway to California. However, before they leave, two of his mates Duchess and Woolly reveal themselves as escapees from the detention centre, and they persuade Emmett to drive them to New York.

This is a very enjoyable adventure story. The Guardian puts it this way: “Towles gives us what all great road novels give us: the panoramic sweep of the prairies and hills, adventures that seem to spring from the landscape itself, the propulsive rhythm of the road.” And NPR agrees: “There’s so much to enjoy in this generous novel packed with fantastic characters — male and female, black and white, rich and poor — and filled with digressions, magic tricks, sorry sagas, retributions, and the messy business of balancing accounts.” Even though I agreed with Forbes that the “characters were frequently hard to believe”, and “hard to take seriously”, I was able to put this aside to fully engage with the characters.

“All we have to do is take the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco …”


”… a farmer with a mortgage was like a man walking on the railing of a bridge with his arms outstretched and his eyes closed. It was a way of life in which the difference between abundance and ruin could be measured by a few inches of rain or a few nights of frost.”

”… when you put it all together like that, with the beginning at the beginning, the middle in the middle, and the end at the end, there is no denying that today was a one-of-a-kind kind of day.”

Author: Amor Towles

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