BKMT READING GUIDES



 
Dramatic,
Fun,
Beautiful

64 reviews

Firefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah

Published: 2008-02-05
Kindle Edition : 0 pages
134 members reading this now
138 clubs reading this now
132 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 56 of 64 members

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the ...

No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to

Introduction

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness. 

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.


Editorial Review

A Conversation with Kristin Hannah

Amazon.com: Why did you choose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane? Is there something unique about growing up in the Northwest that helped you to define the kind of women Kate and Tully become?

Kristin Hannah: Quite simply, I chose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane because it's so much a part of who I am. I've lived in the Northwest for most of my life, and obviously, in all those years, I've seen this part of the country evolve from an undiscovered gem into the Emerald City. So many of the places from my youth are gone, or changed, or moved, and I guess I wanted to remember the physical reminders of those bygone days. And while Kate and Tully are absolutely Northwest girls, I like to think their story will speak to women who grew up in vastly different, more populated areas. After all, it's ultimately about friendship, and those seeds can be planted anywhere.

Amazon.com: While you were writing, at any point did you find yourself feeling more sympathetic to Kate or to Tully? How did you keep the weight of the plot balanced between them as their stories evolved?

KH: There's no way to avoid the truth that Kate is more than a little like me. Thus, I identified with her from the very beginning--she was the small town girl who had to get up in the pre-dawn hours to feed her horses, and read The Lord of the Rings during every family vacation, and felt lost in the first few months at the sprawling University of Washington. All of that was me, so naturally, the problem was not in feeling sympathetic toward Katie; it was much more about holding her at arm's length, seeing her not as an extension of myself, but as a completely fictional woman. Tully was a different story entirely. While many readers might be surprised by this, I really fell in love with Tully. In the final analysis, she's one of my favorite characters of all time. I know she's bold and selfish and myopic and ambitious to a fault, but she's also terribly broken, wounded by her parents, unable to believe in love, and ultimately very real. I think all of us know a "Tully" in our lives, and they bring a lot of drama...and a lot of fire and sparkle.

Amazon.com: You have a beautiful way of showing both the tension and tenderness between mothers and daughters. Was it a challenge to write Tully's painful history with her own mother, and later, the conflict that builds between Kate and her own daughter?

KH: Honestly, I believe that the mother-daughter relationship is magical, complex, potentially dangerous, profoundly powerful, and deeply transformative. To put it simply, all of us have this relationship, and in a very real way, "none of us comes out alive." We are all formed first as daughters and then tested as mothers. There's nothing like motherhood to make us reassess how we were as daughters. One of my favorite parts of Firefly Lane was the circle of Kateâ??s relationship with her mom. First we see her as an angry teen, slamming the door on her mother...and then later her own daughter does the same thing to her. There's a real symmetry in that, a truth that many of us have learned. I have often wished in the past few years that my mom were here to help me as I raised my own teenage son. As a girl, with my own mom, I thought I knew it all; now I know better. Somewhere, I know my mom is smiling.

Amazon.com: Throughout the novel, both Kate and Tully question the reliability of love. Is it that question that creates the rift between them and, ultimately, reunites them in friendship?

KH: You're right, they each do continually question the reliability of love. For Kate, it's a self-esteem issue. She absolutely believes in love--she's grown up surrounded by it--but she constantly questions Johnny's commitment to her. I always felt that was largely because she felt like a moon to Tully's bright and shining sun. For Tully, she honestly doesnâ??t believe that true romantic love exists, and for all of her overblown ambition and belief in herself, she has been wounded by her mother's repeated abandonment. The result is that she feels she's unlovable.

Amazon.com: Kate and Tully are each big personalities in their own way. Was it hard to create male characters who really understand them?

KH:The challenge with regard to male characters was not so much creating men who understood Kate and Tully, it was rather to create love stories that equaled the power and emotional intensity of the friendship. After all, the men in the story were important--Johnny particularly--but it was really a story about the women.

Amazon.com: When Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone first came out, many readers were shocked that a man could write such an intimate portrait of a woman. Do you think women are in fact the best writers of women's fiction? Would you ever consider writing a novel where men take center stage?

KH: One of the great things about being a writer is that we get the chance to inhabit the minds and souls of a variety of individuals. I really don't think male/female is the central question in terms of the viability of a voice and/or vision. We writers can "become" murderers, animals, psychopaths, vampires, lawyers, doctors, wizards, children. In short, our storytelling skills and character-building abilities are limited only by our own imaginations. Until recently, most of my novels--while female-centric in vision--were equally narrated by male characters, and one--Angel Fallsâ??was primarily narrated by men. I didn't see the writing of that any different than anything else.

Amazon.com: Do you see yourself as a writer of romance or women's fiction? What do you see as the differences in these two genres--is one an evolution of the other, or is the label unimportant?

KH: I began as a romance author and moved into women's fiction about ten years ago. While many definitions abound, mine is this: romance is a subsection of the broad, all-inclusive women's commercial fiction market. Women's fiction in general is not an evolution of romance; much of women's fiction is completely unrelated to any romantic elements. However, it is true that many current commercial women's fiction authors began in romance.

Amazon.com:Many women read fictional romance to escape the stress of everyday life and find inspiration in a happy ending. Is there a primary experience that you hope your readers will have after reading Firefly Lane?

KH: I am a sucker for a happy ending myself. In fact, my husband and I often go round and round about movies in which I hate the ending and he loves it. He always says I'm only comfortable with happy ever after, but that's not true. What I want is an emotionally satisfying, organic ending. I want to be totally engaged until the last page, and I want to believe every moment up until I close the book. Sometimes I want to laugh, sometimes I want to cry, and sometimes I want to scream that it canâ??t really be over. (Harry Potter comes to mind on this one). The point is, I want to be moved deeply. That's what I look for in other books and what I hope to deliver in my own.

Just FYI, here are some of my favorite endings: Gone With the Wind, Middlemarch, Prince of Tides, An Inconvenient Wife, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, It, Shadow of the Wind. Some are happy, some are sad, some are bittersweet. All are memorable.

Amazon.com: If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you ask them?

KH: There are, of course, dozens of choices here, and I could certainly go through the classics and come up with many names and questions, but the truth is that I would love to sit down with Stephen King and listen to some rock and roll, and ask him how in the world he has stayed so good for so long.


Excerpt

No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

From the Author:

1. One of the first things Tully says to Kate is a lie. Indeed, Tully isquick to lie throughout her life. Do you think this trait is her way ofhiding the shames in her past or is it a willful reinterpretation of self? Dothese lies and manipulations, big and small, help her ultimately to be morehonest about whom she is or do they undermine her ability to face her ownshortcomings?

2. From her earliest memory, Tully feels abandoned by her mother and father. How does this sense of being unwanted influence her life? How does her troubled relationship with her mother lead to the decisions she makes in her life? Do children have an obligation of some kind to forgive their parents, even inthe face of repeated disappointment? How much do you think childhood heartaches make us who we are?

3. The Kate-Johnny-Tully triangle is one of the fundamental underpinnings of the novel. How does Johnny really feel about Tully? How does Tully feel about him?

4. Kate believes she is Johnny's second choice for love. How does Johnny contribute to her insecurities? How did Tully? How much of a relationshipis set in the beginning and how are changes made as we grow?

5. When Chad leaves Tully, she rationalizes away her broken heart by saying,"if really loved me, he would wait for me." What does this reveal about Tully's perception of romantic love? How do these perceptions setthe stage for the rest of her life? Do you believe that Tully will ever fall in love?

6. Near the end of the novel, when their friend is on the rocks, both women feel wronged. Certainly Kate has ample reason to feel betrayed, but what about Tully's similar belief? Do you understand why Tully was upset, too? Do you believe that a friend should always reach out, even when great pain has been caused? Or do you believe that true friends would never hurt each other?

7. If you could think of one word that personified the seventies, the eighties,the nineties, and the new millennium (so far), what would those words be?

8. At which moment in the novel did you first notice a hint of tension between Tully and Kate? Who do you feel was to blame for this turning point?

9. Music plays an important role in this novel. What musical memories do you have of your teen years, your twenties, and today? Do you feel, as we get older, that music plays less of a role in our lives? Why do you feel that music so profoundly impacts us when we're "coming of age?"

10. What do you feel Kate was most jealous about with regards to Tully? And what was Tully the most envious of in Kate's life? Jealousy is often wanting what we cannot have. Do you feel that these characters truly could not have the things they wanted? If not, why not?

11. Under what circumstances do you feel a betrayal is unforgivable? Do you feel that any of these characters crossed that line?

12. What role do you see Tully playing in Mara's life, after the pages of the novel are closed?

Suggested by Members

The Kathe-Johnny Tully triangle is one of the fundamental underpinnings of the novel. HOw does Johnny really feel about Tully. How does Tully feel about him?
At which moment in the novel did you first notice a hint of tension between Tully and Kate/ Who do you feel was to blame for this turning point?
Under what circumstances do you feel betrayal is unforgivable? Do you feel that any of these characters crossed that line?
by btubandt (see profile) 06/21/13

What do you think was Tully's mom's secret?
by vrtikapa (see profile) 06/02/10

What was your favorite song that was referenced in the book?
by DarlaClarkPayne (see profile) 05/01/10

How friendship impacts your life
How the choices we make shape our lives (marriage, careers, children)
by GrandmaNaNa (see profile) 11/20/09

share stories of close friendships you have personally had
talk about what you know about media
by GrandmaNaNa (see profile) 10/27/09

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Reminiscing about High School/College
by RockinRenee (see profile) 04/30/14
In our book club we went around the room to share memories of our own pasts. We were instructed to share something interesting/embarrassing/or previously unknown about ourselves from high school. We were also supposed to bring in pictures from high school, but most of us forgot.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 10/15/20

Incredibly touching story of the ups and downs of a beautiful, deep friendship. An absolutely must read!

 
  "Firefly Lane"by showmekk (see profile) 01/24/20

I absolutely love this book. Holds your interest and is unpredictably. Story of two friends totally different that become best friends

 
by momin0306 (see profile) 02/26/17

 
by AlyssaB (see profile) 12/10/15

 
by grmajudy (see profile) 12/10/15

 
by brenstuhr (see profile) 08/17/15

I really enjoy her writing style. Loved the characters.

 
  "Blast from the Past"by kjp39640 (see profile) 08/18/14

Good read, kept me interested and brought me back to my own teen years long ago.....:-)

 
  "A Very Well Written Novel about the Ups and Downs of Women's Friendships"by RockinRenee (see profile) 04/30/14

This novel was incredibly well-written, so much so that I couldn't help but draw parallels to my own life and relationships. That's probably why I couldn't rate it higher, it hit a little too close to... (read more)

Rate this book
MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search
FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...