Friday, February 02, 2007

The Rhythm of the Road

I'm fifty pages in to Albyn Leah Hall's debut novel, The Rhythm of the Road about an Irish/American girl, Jo, growing up in England, on the road with her truck driving, depressive father, Bobby. Bobby and Jo love country music, junk food and the feel of the lonely open road. Jo seldom attends school or has any other interaction with kids her own age and often feels a heightened and confusing awkwardness around young people, especially young women. Here Hall captures a "tweens" angst perfectly-

I was standing between the prettiest girls in the world, working hard to make me one of them. I wouldn't have swapped the moment for any other, apart from one thing: me. I had never thought I was ugly exactly, but now I saw that I was. I had a small mouth and a flat nose and a hint of a double chin. I had three spots: on my nose, on my forehead, to the side of my mouth. And my body! It was a tree-stump wedge, straight up and down, soft from all the fried food we ate. Bobby hadn't said those things because he was in a mood. He'd said them because it was true.
Cosima snapped the compact open and smoothed powder over my face. "This will take the shine away."

I'd never thought about the shine before. Now that she'd said it, I could see that it was very much a thing - another thing - to be taken away. She dabbed on some more powder and, using her fingers, she spread it on the oily bit around me nose. She was taking the shine away, but she'd never take my face away.

Albyn Leah Hall
The Rhythm of the Road
St. Martin's Press


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