In Firefly Lane, Kristin Hannah takes us deep inside a 30-year friendship between two unlikely cohorts-Kate Mularkey, high school nerd, and Tully Hart, glamorous new-girl. But the bond between the two is so strong that in the summer of 1974 they form a single unit: TullyandKate, BBF, best friends forever. And they are.
During college and later in their mid-twenties, the two are inseparable, both following the course set out for them by Tully-TV news stardom. Tully, in particular, is driven to fill an inner void carved out by her mother’s abandonment. Smart, talented, and beautiful Tully pursues her career with an intensity that pushes aside desire for husband and family. She craves approval and adulation, not love and commitment-except from Kate.
Kate eventually finds her own path, separate from that of Tully: first as writer and advertising exec, then as wife and mother. She, along with her own parents, creates the family that Tully returns to time and again as haven.
Any friendship, of course, is not without strain-and author Hannah explores those natural tensions between the two women. Everyone, men especially, is captivated by Tully’s beauty and powerful presence. Kate feels the lesser one, even within her own family. Her husband, daughter, and mother are all drawn in by Tully’s aura-a source, at times, of fear and resentment for Kate. Nor is Tully above appropriating Kate’s family for her own needs.
The plot’s conflict also reflects tension between career and family. Kate and Tully came of age during the first wave of feminism when those competing choices were front and center for women. What gives this book its immediacy-and poignancy-is that the issue has yet to be resolved. Witness Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who by her own admission feels an emptiness in her personal life-the result of sacrifices made in pursuit of a top-flight legal career. It’s hard not to notice that the same choice-family vs. career-has been required by few to none of her male peers.
If there’s a weakness in this book it’s that the writing is somewhat facile…and plot-driven. There isn’t enough devoted to the inner-lives of its characters. At times it reads like a screen-play in search of a film-crew…and it wouldn’t be surprising if, in fact, we someday see Firefly Lane, the Film. It’s a terrific story…and it made me want a little more from the two characters.
About the author