The Breakdown Lane
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Julieanne Gillis is no snob, but she is pretty darn good at the business of living — so good that she makes a living advising the lovelorn, through her newspaper column, on what they might have done.
But Julie’s castle, with all its towers and spires, is made of paper, and it goes up in flames when her husband of twenty years, Leo, deserts her, twenty-first century style, leaving a desperate housewife truly deserving of the name, a woman who, though she is beautiful and gifted, has to face the sudden realization that the odd physical symptoms she’s been having are not little hints of being a fortysomething, but the opening bars of a terrifying opus, that will crescendo in Julie’s discovery that she has a serious, chronic illness.
Suddenly, her gifted but quirky son, her lovely but self-centered daughter, her confused preschooler and her best friend are Julie’s caretakers — a situation that wounds her pride and sears her heart.
Her older children take it upon themselves to use a ruse to cross country by bus to find their father, but what they discover is much worse that what they could have expected.
Julie’s fate seems sealed, but everyone underestimates the moxie and grit of this indomitable woman. Refusing to see herself as a tragic mope, Julie not only writes her way to a kind of glory, but finds unexpected joy and new love — while her husband, in fitting fashion, gets precisely what he set out to find, in spades.
The instruction manual on dumping a wife has been done, by John Updike and Olivia Goldsmith, among others. Julie’s story would be a cliché if it weren’t for the new face of duplicity and courage — which may be the face you see over your backyard fence, in the next car at your corner, or even in the mirror.
“There are chick lit writers, and then there are novelists like Mitchard who write about—and for—flesh-and-blood females who must cope with the vagaries of life and marriage. . . . In her sixth novel Mitchard, who also writes children’s books, mines the landscape of a shattering family to illuminate the moments of forgiveness and grace.”
“Jacquelyn Mitchard’s new novel beautifully captures the tribulations of a family facing several battles, but it’s the way her characters relate to each other that earns the accolades. . . . Mitchard is one of the country’s most tender writers about families.”
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
“. . . The Breakdown Lane is a totally refreshing read because Jacqueline Mitchard is a skilled and insightful novelist. The author of many books, chief among them The Deep End of the Ocean, Mitchard has fleshed out her fiction with wonderful, original characters…Gabe is marvelously drawn . . . The Breakdown Lane takes the reader on a journey of love and loss, self-discovery and synergy, a satisfying story about determining which of the signposts of our lives we should follow.”
—Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
“Mitchard’s work . . . is filled with vivid characters who live out loud, and in vibrant color.”
—The Capital Times
“That she takes emotional family events and makes something fresh yet familiar of them is what keeps her readers returning and her bestseller status shiny. The Breakdown Lane—catch that title!—should do nothing to dull that sheen.”
—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“. . . Mitchard does not fail to instill a belief in life and humanity in the reader.”
—Cedar Rapids Gazette
“In her latest novel, Jacquelyn Mitchard offers an honest, moving, passionate portrait of what happens when we fall off the track of a comfortable life — and more importantly, how we might learn to rise again, and soar. Reading just doesn’t get any better than this.”
—Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper and Vanishing Acts
“Jacquelyn Mitchard is among the most wry and observant chroniclers of love at mid-life that we have. Everyone who energetically turned the pages of The Deep End of the Ocean or enjoys her often laugh-out-loud funny newspaper column will be thrilled with both the wit and the sensitivity that marks The Breakdown Lane.”
—Chris Bohjalian, Midwives and Before You Know Kindness
“Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Breakdown Lane is a novel of consequence. The tale of Gabe and his mother, Julie, determined to rescue their crippled family from the double blow of desertion and catastrophic illness, is told with wit and deadly accuracy. Mitchard’s portraits are faultless. I read it in one sitting. It’s a book to read again and again.”
—Judith Guest, Ordinary People
“Reading this is like finding out what really went on at your neighbor’s house when everything fell apart. Julianne and Gabe’s voices are fresh and energetic and their story is harrowing, inspiring, and plain old brave. This is Jacqueline Mitchard’s best book!”
—Alice Elliott Dark, author of Think of England
“Jacquelyn Mitchard is in her element again, writing with candor, empathy, and wit about a family in extreme crisis, enduring the unendurable because they must. And yet again, she’s written a book whose pages seem to turn themselves.”
—Julia Glass,Three Junes
“An astute observer of family dynamics, Mitchard renders her characters flawlessly, endowing them with a humanity that is both accessibly grounded and astonishingly deep.”
“Mitchard…handles the various themes of abandonment, illness, and family disappointment with finesse….this is an optimistic novel and is recommended for most popular collections.”
“Rousing melodrama; fluid, often funny, dialogue; and the convincing portrayal of children involved in the collapse of a marriage add up to another page-turner from Mitchard”
“Author Jacquelyn Mitchard offers an intriguing study of a quintessential American family in her latest novel . . . Mitchard smoothly moves the story forward, emphasizing the complexities under-lying familial relationships in this thought-provoking, introspective novel.”