The Long Road Home: The Death and Birth of America is Nick West's second novel and the sequel to his first book, The Great Southern Circus.
In this story, we follow the lives of the same characters from book 1 as they traverse the difficult and painful years of the American Civil War. Four people, four lives: two men--one white, one black--join the Union; one joins the Confederacy, one young woman tries to hold it altogether while war rages around her.
I enjoyed reading this story of friendship, hardship, hope and heartache; it's a poignant story of friends divided then reconciled by the darkness and bitterness of war. I learned many facts about the Civil War I didn't know before. The book is well researched and West writes with a lot of attention to detail, making this a must-read for Civil War history enthusiasts and a valuable book for group readings. The prose flows nicely, too, and the author's love of writing and this part of his family history really shine through the pages.
This isn't your standard novel, however, in that it is mainly biographical--the characters and their stories are real--and there are a lot of facts and information mixed in with the story. Since I was kind of expecting it, though, it didn't bother me, but if you're not particularly interested in this time of American history and you're more in it for the characters and the story, you might find the informative paragraphs a little distracting. That said, West's clear, smooth writing style alleviates the problem and, as I mentioned, the information is interesting and at times even fascinating.
The Long Road Home is definitely worth reading and should be on the shelves of Civil War history and fiction fans. Recommended.
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Read my interview with the author on The Dark Phantom Review.