I took a little break from blogging to focus on other interests. My sister K. still blogs actively. You can read up on her adventures raising two active boys, training for races, and learning to play the guitar here on her blog. My sister and her family also travel for fun adventures. In fact, K. and her husband (Mr. K.) both finished the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia last month! Our family is very proud of them.
In the meantime, let me tell you about a novel that I read about a month or so ago. Jonathan gave it to me last Christmas (I think). This novel is “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles.
The actual Lincoln Highway is the first transcontinental highway in the United States. Here in Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Highway is Route 30. I graduated from college at Saint Vincent along Route 30. Tourists can drive to both the Flight 93 Memorial and Gettysburg by choosing Route 30. Jonathan and I travelled home from my sister’s wedding in Eastern PA back to Western PA by driving Route 30 to Greensburg. My parents used to travel Route 30 from our our home in Central PA to visit our family in the Pittsburgh area. I’ve blogged here before about interesting and reputedly haunted places along Route 30 in Pennsylvania.
Absolutely nothing in the fiction novel “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles takes place in Pennsylvania.
The novel begins in the 1950’s in the Midwest. (Rural Nebraska.) The story jumps from several different points of view. I’m not completely sure who the protagonist is. At the beginning, I thought that the protagonist was 18-year-old Emmett Watson. Then, I decided that the protagonist was his eight-year-old brother, Billy. Now, I think that the novel has several protagonists.
Anyway, the first chapter begins when Emmett is released from a prison farm after an encounter with the town bully that turned deadly. Emmett and Billy’s father has recently died of cancer. The bank has foreclosed on their bankrupt farm. Emmett initially planned for the brothers to start over in Texas. Billy convinces Emmett that they should instead travel west along the Lincoln Highway – to start over in California, and also to look for their mother in San Francisco. (She walked out on the family when Billy was an infant.) Okay, California it is!
Some adventures happen before the brothers can leave Nebraska and all of its terrible memories. Some additional protagonists appear. The brothers are finally on their way to travel the Lincoln Highway west – or so they think. Something happens to cause them to travel east instead. Some of the protagonists have an adventure in Illinois involving an Abraham Lincoln statue. After several chapters or so, everyone arrives in New York City.
Several more adventures happen. Finally, a bunch of the protagonists set off to travel from Times Square (the eastern beginning of the Lincoln Highway), through the Lincoln Tunnel, west on the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco (the western end of the Lincoln Highway). They are actually ready to go this time, guys! Or so they think.
This novel is all about the Hero’s Journey. The author gave us several pretty big clues to help us figure this out. Billy carries around a book of stories about heros and their journeys. One of the characters is even named Ulysses. It’s fun to pick out all of the Easter eggs about Greek Mythology.
Also, even though the book takes place over the span of a few weeks in June 1954, several of the protagonists have flashbacks to stuff that took place in the 1930’s and 1940’s. So, even though it’s postwar America, the protagonists are still dealing with trauma from the Great Depression and World War II.
This was a fun book to read. Pennsylvania readers, don’t be disappointed that none of “The Lincoln Highway: A Novel” took place in the Keystone State.
2 thoughts on “The Lincoln Highway: A Novel”
I would not have expected the locale. Like you I equate the Lincoln Highway to route 30….
Thanks for your response, Chrissy! Even though I was disappointed that our little stretch of the Lincoln Highway didn’t show up in this book, I really liked the story. Every major character in the book was in search of something or else running away from the past.