Jonathan Adams is an outwardly successful man. He is a well-liked and well-respected college professor and state senator with a lovely house, and he regularly dates women much younger than him. However, his is a classic case of appearances being deceiving. A trip to Iraq to help establish local governments turned tragic, and Adams is having a lot of difficulty coping with the fallout. The entire event is causing him to reexamine his life, and what he finds is not to his liking. His old friend, Tom Walker, visits him for a long weekend, and, through their discussions and reminiscences, a whole host of turmoil is brought to light.
Though Tom is the narrator, he almost completely disappears in this story about the more charismatic and troubled Adams. This is very much a story about Adams’s struggle to reconcile the things promised to him in youth with what his life has now become. During the course of the weekend visit, Tom and Jonathan talk a lot about Maplewood, the town where they grew up, and the stories they tell do an excellent job of explaining who these men are and also of simultaneously grounding and furthering the overall narrative.
Byron’s Lane is a wonderful book. It is slow in the way that a conversation between old friends is slow – comfortably and interestingly languid rather than dull. There is definite tension throughout the book, but it acts as a gentle tug through the pages rather than a sharp pull. Rogers does an excellent job of examining the myriad ways in which the places where we grow up continue to influence all aspects of our lives long after we’ve left. This is a beautiful story about friendship, the long-term consequences of our decisions, and the choices that define who we become.
|Langdon Street Press
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