There is a rest stop near Mile Marker 139 on the Ohio Turnpike. It is here that we come to meet the characters of this compelling novel. Lost souls all, they come to find themselves through friendship and empathy.
Disparate and unique, these characters consist of a real cross-section of humanity. We are privileged to get to know them a little as they experience some very tough life challenges.
Mike Popkins – a sixty-something widower, works as a janitor at the rest stop. Lonely, out of shape, and still grieving for his wife who passed away five years ago. He lives alone and seldom visits his grown son and grandsons.
Russ Jacobs – a handsome though solitary trucker who has just celebrated his fortieth birthday. Years ago, Russ was betrayed in love and he has been wary of relationships ever since. He drives his rig long distances to forget is heartbreak.
Sarah Wilcox – a young recent university graduate, she works selling coffee to the myriad customers who stop during their travels. Sarah wants more from her life, yet she cannot decide which direction her life should take. She is deeply dissatisfied with living at home with her parents. She wants to travel the world – much as her beloved grandfather did before he recently passed away…
Each of these three characters come to notice Shelley, and attempt to befriend her, causing their own lives to be impacted in a dramatic fashion.
Shelley Parkinson – a mystery – an enigmatic woman who arrives during the middle of the night at the rest stop. Shelley might once have been attractive, though now her appearance seems ravaged from her inner turmoil. Her once long hair has been shorn by manicure scissors. She sits outside, chain-smoking, at one of the picnic tables no matter what the weather. She sits alone – for hours on end muttering to herself “One thirty-nine. Three fourteen. Eight-twenty”.
Why does she come to this rest stop every night? What has caused her so much emotional distress? The other characters can sense how very ‘broken‘ she is. Will one, or all of them, be able to bridge the chasm and really get to know her – and her story?
From the very first pages I was completely immersed in this novel. The characters all came to life and I was anxious to learn more about them, and how their lives might intersect.
The narrative jumps from one character to another, yet this does not in any way deter from the enjoyment of the read. All of the characters were written with deep understanding and empathy showing that loneliness can be experienced by anyone – not just by those who are actually ‘alone’.
As we go about living our messy, busy lives, this novel serves to remind us that every person we encounter has their own story to tell. Their stories are often tragic, so we must practice kindness whenever we can. Ordinary people, yet all extraordinary in their own way.
A rare little gem of a novel that I probably wouldn’t have picked up if not for being approached to take part in the blog blitz. For that reason I wish to express a huge thank-you to Rachel’s Random Resources and the author, Cynthia Hilston for a fantastic read which I shan’t soon forget. Highly recommended!
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Rachel’s Random Resources in order that I might participate in the one-day blog blitz.
ASIN: B07Y7MJQM4 ISBN: 9781695005662 275 pages
Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.
In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.
Social Media Links – www.cynthiahilston.com