In this “compelling, bighearted, emotionally precise page-turner” (Sunday Times), the New York Times bestselling writer and acclaimed television host explores the aftermath of a tragedy on a small-town to illuminate the shame and longing that can flow through generations—and how the secrets of the heart cannot stay be buried forever.
It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony, a group of young friends, including the bride and groom, are involved in an accident. Three survive. Three are killed.
The lives of the families are shattered and the rifts between them ripple throughout the small town. Connor survived, but living among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as carrying the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, he eventually makes a home—of sorts—for himself in New York, where he finds shelter and the possibility of forging a new life.
But the secrets—the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind—will not be silenced. Before long, Connor will have to confront his past.
A powerful and timely novel of emigration and return, Home Stretch demonstrates Norton’s keen understanding of the power of stigma and secrecy—and their devastating effect on ordinary lives.
TV host Norton's excellent third novel (after A Keeper) explores the aftermath of a tragedy as it plays out over decades. In 1987, a car accident outside a small Irish town leaves three dead the day before a wedding including the bride and groom and sends into a tailspin two young men who were also in the car when it crashed, Martin Coulter and Connor Hayes. Over the years, Martin and Connor deal with the repercussions of the accident and wrestle with guilt over the deaths in diametrically opposite ways. While Martin attempts to make amends, Connor buries the past and lies to those around him about his involvement. With surprising twists and touching moments, Norton explores the immense sense of loss that comes with being a survivor, and how nothing is ever truly forgotten for the families of those who died. While Martin and Connor settle into new lives in London and New York, a chance encounter and Martin's entreaties to the families of those who died in the crash force Connor to confront his role in the accident. Norton delicately covers themes of abandonment, death, and loss with sophistication and thoughtful empathy: "time might be able to numb, it could distract, but it was incapable of truly fixing anything." This gripping and compassionate outing is Norton's best yet.