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HOME STRETCH
by Graham Norton
HarperVia. 320 pages, $26.99

 

On top of his TV stardom, Graham Norton is the popular author of two memoirs and three novels. The latest novel, Home Stretch, is his most personal to date. It traces the repercussions over the years for the people who are involved in a tragic car accident on the day before a young couple’s marriage in a small town on coastal Ireland. Of the six people in the car that day in 1987, three survive and three do not. The bridal couple perish along with a bridesmaid-to-be; two young men survive, and a young woman who’s maimed for life. The main character is Connor Hayes, who bears the double burden of being the driver of the car and a young gay man who has not come out to his small town.

            The cascading aftermath of the accident haunts everyone in town. Connor is the most aggrieved: how can he live with this and who he really is? Driven from the town by his own torments, he goes to England to find work, first as a laborer, then as a barkeep, something he knows from his family pub back in Ireland. Other than a brief Christmas card from London, he cuts off all contact with his family. Eventually, time and circumstance bring Connor to a comfortable place as a gay man living in New York City in a long-term relationship. Still, he tells no one back home of his life or whereabouts. After fifteen years away, dramatic revelations and new connections lead Connor to brave going back to his hometown, wondering what kind of reception he will receive.

Joe Ryan

 

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