Graham Norton is one of the UK’s best loved broadcasters. This is the authors third book and the first one I am reading by him.
‘Home Stretch’ is set in 1987. The core of the book is about grief and how it can have a devastating impact on a person and the people around him. But ultimately it’s also about acceptance.
A small Irish community (near Cork) is preparing for a wedding for two young local adults. They have just left school and are celebrating with a group of friends. The friends head home from the beach the night before the wedding when tragedy strikes. A car accident kills three of the friends, the other three survive. The ramifications of the accident are felt throughout the small town.
Graham Norton talks about finishing Home Stretch during lockdown
The driver of the car, Connor Hayes survives. The accident not only impacts him but his parents and sister. He is forced to leave his hometown in shame. He eventually ends up in New York (after Liverpool and London). He tries to forget his past and find a new home for himself. Connor is also a young gay man and the book chronicles his struggles and the homophobia he experiences.
The main characters are memorable but I think the beauty of this book lies in how real the story feels. The book is set from 1987 to 2015. It also tracks the changes to Irish society during the book. Although the book is filled with sadness and melancholy, I think there is a bit of hope that human spirit can eventually triumph and lead you on the right path. Even if it takes a while.This is not an easy read but if you finish reading the ‘Home Stretch’ you may find it rewarding.