The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles surprised me. I was surprised that the story involves many more characters than the four mentioned in the publisher’s summary. I was surprised that it wasn’t about a road trip on the Lincoln Highway. I was really surprised by the ending. And, to my disappointment, I was surprised that I found the main characters often to be either too vanilla or too over the top.
The Lincoln Highway is a coming-of-age adventure story that takes place over 10 days in June 1954. It centers around eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson, who has just been released from a work camp after serving time for involuntary manslaughter. His father recently died from cancer and the family farm in Nebraska has been foreclosed. Emmett plans to take his child-genius brother, Billy, to a new city so they can build a new life together. Billy convinces Emmett that they should travel along The Lincoln Highway to San Francisco, which is the last city where their missing mother was known to be. This plan is hijacked by an unscrupulous young man called Duchess, who along with Wooley, an addict, has escaped from the work camp. Wooley, who comes from a very wealthy family, has told Duchess about a large stash of cash at his family’s summer compound in New York. Duchess will do whatever it takes to get to the money.
Instead of heading out west, Billy and Emmett are tricked into traveling to New York City. During the high jinks that ensue, they meet an entertaining cast of characters. These include an unsavory preacher, nuns, a war veteran who has become a hobo, a Professor, Wooley’s sisters, and some whores. My favorite character was Sally, who is Emmett and Billy’s neighbor. I wish she had a larger role in the story.
4-stars. This is my book club’s January 2022 selection. I can’t wait to discuss the ending with them. I listened to the audiobook which was 16 hours and 39 minutes. The hardback is 576 pages. This novel was first published on October 5, 2021.