Laura Tonwe’s The Road Home is a well-crafted, creative novel revolving around a young career woman’s life in the months following the 9/11 attacks.
Tech professional Stephanie Willis has been working in New York for the past five years. When she left home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, her head was filled with TV shows, novels, and movies of New York success stories—and the idea that a Big Apple career was worth sacrificing everything to pursue. But having escaped the World Trade Center tragedy, Stephanie is “now, not sure of anything.”
Job promotion comes at a price when she’s asked to escort fellow executives to alcohol-induced dinners at local strip clubs, and a trip home has her entertaining thoughts of returning to a simpler life. But soon opportunities in Los Angeles draw her to new possibilities.
The story is built on a common premise: small-town woman sets out to make a career in the big city. Yet it takes on a creative edge as Tonwe laces Stephanie’s activities with advice and observations from the ghostly presence of big-screen actors/characters. Whether its guidance on men from Angelina Jolie’s sarcastic, witty Lisa of Girl Interrupted; career tips from the feisty Tess in Working Girl; or the jaded thought that “Living the same day over and over again is such a drag” from Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day character, the conversations add a multi-layered dimension to Stephanie’s search for happiness and peace.
As the story plays out in the aftermath of 9/11, Tonwe reverently details the reminders of the event: homemade altars lining the streets, an open skyline missing the Twin Towers, etc.
There are a few minor typographical errors, and some may find the plot well-worn. But Tonwe takes familiar material to interesting heights with ponderings about love, relationships, family connection and the inclusion of the wisdom of characters from memorable films.
Also available as an ebook.