Brilliantly structured and achingly lyrical, this beautiful first novel by the award-winning author of The Girls tells the story of two unlikely people thrown together who transform each other's lives forever.
When 5-year old Sharla Cody is dumped on the doorstep of Addy Shadd, a 70-year old woman living in a trailer park, Addy does not know how completely her life is about to change. She's hardly used to company and the troubled Sharla is not the sweet, beautiful angel she had envisioned. Over time, Addy and Sharla form a bond that neither of them expected-and Sharla begins to undergo a transformation under Addy's patient and loving care. But much to Addy's surprise and dismay, Sharla's presence brings back memories of her own tumultuous childhood. As she reminisces about her days growing up in Rusholme, a town settled by fugitive slaves in the mid 1800s, she remembers her family and her first love and confronts the painful experience that drove her away from home, never to return.
Lori Lansens is the author of two bestselling novels, Rush Home Road and The Girls, which was a Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year in 2006 (and sold over 300,000 copies in the UK) and a finalist for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, Lori Lansens now makes her home in California.
"I can see Oprah, with a little makeup, playing Addy Shadd in a 5-hankie movie."
—W.P. Kinsella, Books In Canada
"Impressive…. A fascinating story that probably will be unfamiliar to most readers…. This one may leave you weeping into your beach blanket."
"A poignant novel about the power of love and forgiveness."
"Rush Home Road is a neat novel…packaged and presented with all the ends tucked in, not a thread unravelling from the smooth pages…compelling reading."
—Tara Klager, New Brunswick Reader
"Lansens writes her tale with assurance, skillfully drawing rounded characters about whom the reader quickly comes to care….It’s one of those books that ends too soon."
—Red Deer Advocate
"Lansens is a willing storyteller.... As a writer, she desires a particular kind of reader, one who wants above all to be transported--who might sit at her knee, the hearth."
—Noah Richler, National Post
"[A] poignant debut….Addy’s life — her marriage, her children, her journey to Detroit and back to Canada — is the rich core of a novel also laden with history….This is artfully done."
—Publishers Weekly, March 18, 2002
"To read Lansens's Rush Home Road is to read Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women coupled with Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, but as if both novels had been penned by Toni Morrison... In Rush Home Road ... an Ontario almost never imagined, a secret, rural black Ontario, a landscape of tobacco, corn and strawberries and a history of struggle and beauty, is given magnificent, complex reality.... Lansens is a brilliant talent, with a profound, big-hearted comprehension of human flaws and humane possibilities."
—George Elliot Clarke, The Globe and Mail
"Small-town Ontario is evoked like never before in the epic…Rush Home Road….a compulsive page-turner that keeps on chugging while shedding light on a part of Canadian history that’s not chronicled nearly enough."
—Susan G. Cole, NOW magazine (Toronto).
"Lansens proves her potential….Lansens presents us with a time and place as steeped in history as the American south; rich material indeed…..Rush Home Road has a sweetness and a charm about it."
"The characters remain sympathetic even when patience and kindsness fails them. The book contains reversals of fortune, vivid characters and a rich vein of Canadian history rarely mined in contemporary fiction. In Rush Home Road, Lori Lansens creates a teeming, forgotten world linked to our own by one woman’s life, laid down across the twentieth century like a fragile railroad track."
—Annabel Lyon, Vancouver Sun
"Rush Home Road offers an interesting storyline rich with satisfying plot twists that skilfully confute the reader’s expectations. But the novel’s true power comes from Lansens’ authorial voice -- a combinaton of grit and sensuality that exposes the full humanity of characters laid bare against an inconstant sociological landscape. The language flows effortlessly and naturally, dialogue rendered true and authentic through Lansens’ deft handling of vernacular. The author’s deep compassion for her characters evokes writers like John Steinbeck… "
"The magic of Lori Lansens’ writing lies in the way it knows its characters, and the way the characters know each other….Rush Home Road is a major triumph made up of many small, wonderful things. Dickens has written some stuff like this; so have Alice Munro and Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami and Penelope Fitzgerald, Rohinton Mistry and Roberston Davies. But not on their first try."
"immensely readable and informative about a root beginning in our history that I have not seen plumbed in other Canadian novels — the black experience at the end of the Underground Railroad, principally in southwestern Ontario."
—Noah Richler, National Post
"Lansens’ talent is evident in her ability to move beyond her own experience to recreate the hardship, loves and losses of a black woman in the last century. Her novel is a moving testament to survival."
—Margaret Macpherson, Edmonton Journal
"Rush Home Road is brilliant in its microscopic portrayal of the scent and stench, tears and screams, laughter and joy of black Canadian life in a small southern Ontario town. It draws with pulsating prose the picture of life in the developing ‘Negro’ societies formed by the proliferation of Canadian stations along the Underground Railway."
—Austin Clarke, author of The Question and The Origin of Waves
"This novel? It is the gospel of our history."
—George Elliott Clarke, author of Execution Poems and Beatrice Chancy
"Rush Home Road, the story of a 70 year old woman's journey through the nearly unbearable sorrows of her past, in order to save an abandoned little girl, is a first novel of exquisite power, honesty and conviction. Its portrait of how much has changed, and how little, over nearly a century, in the realms of race, love, hate and loss, is quite nearly without flaws."
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and A Theory of Relativity
"While wonderful novels about the black immigrant experience abound in Canada, few novelists, black or white, have written about the country's long-settled black communities. First-time novelist Lori Lansens ... does so passionately with Rush Home Road ... a compulsively readable book that leaves us feeling we know more about a time and place — and about humankind — than when we opened the cover."
—Quill & Quire advance review