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A Cross Country Trek Filled with Richly Imagined Settings, Fascinating Characters and Diverse Themes: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

20 Jul

If you are fond of the absorbing and adventurous novels of John Steinbeck or William Faulkner, I
highly recommend The Lincoln Highway by the New York Times bestselling author Amor
Towles, whose style is reminiscent of both of these classic authors.

Set in the 1950s, this mischievous, wise and wildly entertaining novel follows four boys who set
out to travel the country in search of a fresh start, three of them have just been
released from a juvenile work farm. Emmett and Billy want to find their mother in San Francisco
who left them when they were young, and Duchess and Woolly are on a hunt for a stashed wad
of cash in upstate New York. Sometimes their dreams are aligned, but often they are not. In other
words, adventure ensues that involves train hopping and car stealing and with that comes the
inevitability of trouble sparked from both good and bad intentions. Each of these young men is
chasing his dreams, but their past, whether violent or sad, are never far behind.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, these quirky yet endearing
characters draw us into their action-packed and compulsive hijinks as they travel throughout the
U.S. on the Lincoln Highway or I-80 and experience encounters filled with digressions, magic
tricks, sorry sagas, retributions, and the messy business of balancing accounts. Each character’s
back story is parceled out along the exciting journey and we develop feelings for them as they
relay the hardships they have endured as well as the joys.

Each character seems to provide a lesson for the others to learn. Billy, Emmett’s 8-year-old
brother, who seems to be wise beyond his years, is full of historical facts that he gained from
repeatedly reading “Professor Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers…” He even has
the good fortune of meeting the wise Professor in his New York City office who autographs his
earmarked copy of the book. Woolly has been damaged by the untimely death of his father in
WWII, but possesses an unsurpassed kindness and childlike quality. Duchess is the rogue of the
group who grew up in an orphanage and has many old scores to settle along the journey. And
Emmett, the protagonist, is the level-headed and practical one who had the misfortune of serving
15 months in a juvenile work farm for involuntary manslaughter.

This multi-layered, propulsive novel is very satisfying and intriguing as the adventures unfold
during the cross country trek filled with an array of new and richly imagined settings, fascinating
characters, and diverse themes.

Written by:
Ethan Galvin
Information and Digital Services Librarian

Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

4 May

Check out a variety of terrific adult fiction and nonfiction books for AAPI Heritage Month available as ebooks from eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and Hoopla. Also available in print from BCCLS libraries.

Adult Fiction
Interior Chinatown
Charles Yu
A deeply personal story about race, pop culture, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play. Willis Wu discovers the secret history of Chinatown & the buried legacy of his own family.

You can also read a previous post about Yu’s How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe.

Win Me Something
Kyle Lucia Wu
A nuanced coming-of age debut story about a biracial Chinese American woman in NJ who asks what it really means to belong and how she might begin to define her own life.

The Verifiers
Jane Pek
A young Chinese American woman is hired by a detective agency to verify people’s online dating personas. But when a client turns up dead, she investigates.

My Year Abroad
Chang-Rae Lee
An entertaining story of a young American whose life is transformed when a Chinese American businessman suddenly takes him under his wing on an adventure across Asia.

A Song Everlasting
Ha Jin
A timely story that follows a famous Chinese singer severed from his country as he tries to find his way in the U.S. and reclaim his ethnic identity and maintain his art.

Homeland Elegies
Ayad Akhtar
A Muslim-American family struggles to survive in the U.S. following the tragedy of 9/11. The compelling story takes us from palatial suites in Europe to guerilla lookouts in the Afghan mountains.

Pachinko
Min Jin Lee
A saga that follows a Korean family from the 1900s through 8 decades & 4 generations. A Korean girl’s unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame her family so she leaves Korea starting a chain of events.

Searching for Sylvie Lee
Jean Kwok
A drama untangling the complicated ties that bind two Chinese sisters and their mother as the eldest daughter disappears and family secrets emerge.

Adult Non-Fiction
Rise: A Pop History of Asian America From the Nineties to Now
Jeff Yang
A mass media and pop culture tribute to Asian Americans. This vivid scrapbook focuses on voices, emotions and memories from an era in which Asian culture was transformed.

On Monday, May 23 at 6:00 pm, join us for a special AAPI Book Club discussing “Rise” led by Jennie Pu, Hoboken Public Library Director in the Small Programming Room (lower level, 500 Park Ave, Main Branch). See the HPL calendar for other great AAPI Heritage Month events!

Crying in the H Mart
Michelle Zauner
A powerful memoir from the indie rock star of Japanese Breakfast fame about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother & finding herself.

The Groom Will Keep His Name
Matt Ortile
A collection of tender essays on sex, dating, and identity from a gay Filipino immigrant learning to navigate race, resistance, and romance in America.

This is What America Looks Like
Ilhman Omar
An intimate memoir by the first African refugee, first Somali-American, & one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Facing the Mountain
Daniel James Brown
A true story of the Japanese-American heroes in WWII. Interviews with the families of 4 soldiers who were part of the Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe.

Flying Free
Cecilia Rodriguez Aragon
The compelling story of how Filipino Cecilia Aragon broke barriers and became the first female Latino pilot on the U.S. Aerobatic Team.

Book List Adapted from 2022 AAPI Heritage Month Brochure created by:
Ethan Galvin
Information and Digital Services Librarian

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