The Lincoln Highway – by Amor Towles – independent book review – Historical Fiction (U.S.)

I wanted this book to never end! Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

When I read (and loved) A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, I worried that I’d be disappointed in any future book from Amor Towles. But, not so! THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY is just as wonderful, though in a completely different way.

The title of the book references one of the earliest transcontinental highway routes cars used to cross the United States, running from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, CA. But this Lincoln Highway is not actually the focus of the story.

The Lincoln Highway (image from Wikipedia)

Instead, the book explores the exploits of three orphaned boys who originally meet in a reform school in Nebraska in the 1950s:
Emmett – a well-intentioned and responsible boy whose temper can sometimes trump his best intentions.
Duchess – the street-wise son of an itinerant actor with a deep sense of and commitment to justice.
Woolly – a child of wealth who experiences the world is his own naive and distinctive way.
On their travels, these three are joined by Billy, Emmett’s little brother, who adds to the story all the innocence, exuberance, blind devotion, and curiosity of a young child.

Although there is plenty of action and the four boys certainly have unusual adventures and meet some strange characters, I don’t see this as a plot driven novel. It’s much more a coming-of-age story for the boys and, for us, coming to know and understand these four main characters, all of whom you will come to love. Author Amor Towles has created four complex, interesting, and fully fleshed out people. Not one is perfect. All are victims in some ways, but also masters of their own fates.

Amor Towles
Photo from his Website

If there’s one theme they all end up exploring, it’s heroism. Drawing on both legend and history, each in his own way ponders what actions make a hero, how is justice best served, and when is it right to enact vengeance?

It’s a page-turner but also a deep, rich, and thoughtful read that touches both intellect and emotion. And there’s plenty of humor too. Don’t miss it!

More about Amor Towles.

You may be interested in my review of another book by Amor Towles:

A Gentleman in Moscow

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