Rush Home Road

Rush Home Road

[a Novel]

Unknown - 2002
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A lonely 70-year-old woman takes in an abandoned girl in this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss set in the black communities of southwestern Ontario.

Rush Home Road , a dramatic début novel by an adept storyteller, was compared to John Steinbeck and Alice Munro and is poised to become beloved by readers around the world. While exploring the rich history of the Underground Railroad, whereby fugitive slaves from the United States found freedom in Canada, it also speaks broadly of motherhood, understanding, the importance of goodness and the power of love.

Rusholme, Ontario, is an all-black town born of the Underground Railroad. Its inhabitants farm land cleared by their ancestors who escaped slavery, and are grateful for modest comforts and richness of life; but for the taint of the bootleggers, it is a strong and peaceful community. At fifteen, Addy Shadd has learned to bake a pie crust better than her mother's, and is happy to pick vegetables in the fields in summer so she can show off her strong, smooth calves to Chester Monk, the young man she hopes to marry one day.

At the annual Strawberry Supper, her dreams go horribly awry. A series of terrible misunderstandings lead to the tragic death of her brother, and blame falls on Addy. Shunned by her family, exiled from the community, she leaves home to find a new life. One refrain fills her head: Rush Home. But she is no longer welcome in Rusholme. Her courageous journey takes her to less-sheltered places, first to Detroit, then Chatham, where she finds a home for a while -- until tragedy strikes again. Addy has learned to accept the tribulations life deals her as merely "what is."

Many years later, in 1978, we meet Addy at 70, living in a trailer park near Lake Erie. She grows flowers and keeps a tidy house, her only company the voice of her little brother Leam, which has stayed with her through the years. Her quiet existence is ruptured suddenly when a neighbour offers to pay Addy to look after her young daughter for the summer. Before Addy can act on her second thoughts, the girl's mother has disappeared, and odd, mixed-race Sharla Cody is Addy's responsibility.

It is not the first time Addy has had a five-year-old to care for, and although long-neglected Sharla has much to learn about how to behave, her warm, grateful presence brings back a deluge of memories for Addy, who carries an unwarranted burden of guilt. As we watch a relationship unfold between the aging Addy and the little girl she chooses to care for, we are transported through flashbacks into the harsh life of a strong woman who endured more disasters than triumphs, suffered through racism and prejudice, but still has faith in the redemptive power of love.

With its depictions of human nature at its most despicable and most admirable, Rush Home Road is heartbreaking but optimistic, passionate but funny, intimate and readable, with skillfully drawn characters and compelling plot twists. Although Knopf Canada was the first publisher to buy the manuscript, a U.S. publisher quickly paid a large advance for the remaining rights to this first novel by a Canadian author, and within two months of acquiring the manuscript had sold it in eleven countries. Shortly after the book's publication, film rights were bought by Whoopi Goldberg, who plans to play the lead role.
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf, 2002.
ISBN: 9780676974515
Branch Call Number: FICTION LAN

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