Sunday, November 9, 2008

BOOK: Drive Like Hell by Dallas Hudgens

Drive Like Hell by Dallas Hudgens, 322 pages

well rounded challenge: A - Zed Title challenge, "D"

Part southern-70s time capsule, part coming of age, Drive Like Hell follows Luke Fulmer in the six months of his driver's license suspension for 'borrowing' a neighbour's car. Raised in a tumultuous home, with a mother teetering on alcoholism, a father who drops in from time to time, and a brother just out of jail for drug related offenses, Luke is trying to find his place and walk the straight and narrow. It's not easy when the moral boundaries are so very blurred. His father taught him to drive at ten years of age and his brother is his pot supplier. Yet they are not terrible people, and I imagine there are many people who grow up with an exposure to options that make the regular lawful existence seem the unusual, rather than the norm.

Hudgens presents a quick moving, tightly written novel. The southern setting in the 1970s provides a backdrop of cultural references, but I never got a sense that this had to be written in that time period other than to be able to mention Burt Reynolds and television shows like Dallas and The Rockford Files. The story itself, with the drugs and juvenile delinquency, could easily have been set in the present. Luke and his brother talk about going legit and living lawful lives, but I don't think they know what exactly that means. Still, these drug dealing and taking people have dreams and a real sense of family. Luke often felt older than sixteen and was, in most cases, more mature and aware than most of the adults around him.

recommended for fans of southern fiction/country music, coming of age stories. (it had some slightly raunchy/violent moments for people who don't like that. Or for those that do.)