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The Breakdown Lane
By Jacquelyn Mitchard

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The Breakdown Lane

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The Breakdown Lane
By Jacquelyn Mitchard
Large Print Edition
HarperLargePrint (2005)
ISBN: 0-0607-5947-X
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Laura Hortz Stanton - September 22, 2006

If you enjoy reading novels about family drama then this is the book for you. Julieanne Gillis, the central character in The Breakdown Lane, seems to have one problem after another. While the drama in Julieanne's life is what moves this story forward, it is not what this story is about. Rather, the author has crafted a novel about family, love, heartbreak, perseverance, and triumph.

When the novel opens, Julieanne is a contented mother and wife with a job as an advice columnist for her local Wisconsin newspaper. She is married to her college sweetheart and together they have fashioned what appears to be a fulfilled life in their community. That is until Julieanne's husband, Leo Steiner decides that he needs to be free from the trappings of family life and virtually abandons his family. Shortly after Leo leaves his family, Julieanne discovers that she needs him more than ever before when she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The remainder of the story follows Julianne and her children through the hills and valleys of their lives.

Mitchard's writing is fluid and her characters and well developed. The chapters in the book alternate between Julieanne's point of view and that of her teenage son Gabe. The two perspectives on the same situations give the reader an insight into the many dimensions that surround family dramas. Mitchard's characters could be real people; she shows their flaws and their love and compassion, which allows the reader to empathize with the Gillis/Steiner family.

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