Twenty-nine year old Jamie Kellogg is looking for love.
Unfortunately, she's looking in all the wrong places. Depressed due
to a bad marriage and nasty divorce, the recent death of her mother
and a go-nowhere job, Jamie is vulnerable. When she meets a
good-looking computer entrepreneur in a bar and proceeds to have a
one-night stand with him, she thinks she has met her dream
Appearances can be deceiving though, and before Jamie gets to know
the real Brad Fisher, she takes off with him on an impromptu jaunt
from her home in Florida to Dayton, Ohio to see Brad's estranged
son. What Jamie doesn't know is that Brad Fisher is really Ralph
Fisher, and while he may want to be reunited with his son, what he
hasn't shared with Jamie are his diabolical plans of revenge
against his ex-wife.
It doesn't take long for Brad/Ralph's true colors to become
apparent, but by then Jamie is in too deep and escape seems
unlikely, if not impossible.
In the meantime, two women are living on Mad River Road. Both have
had bad marriages, both have small sons, and both are learning to
trust again. It's only natural that they should strike up a
friendship. The thing is, neither of them are being completely
honest about who they are or where they come from.
Emma and her son, Dylan, are having a hard time of it. She is
unemployed, desperately looking over her shoulder, and trying to
convince Dylan of the need to use their "new" names instead of
their "old" ones.
Lily, Emma's neighbor, is also raising her son alone. Trying to get
her writing career off the ground, working at Scully's (a fitness
center) and dating a police detective keep her busy, but she still
has time to befriend the lonely Emma. The two women find a lot to
bond over, but their deepest, darkest secrets keep them from
becoming true friends.
Jamie, Emma and Lily have no idea that their lives are all about to
cross paths due to one Ralph Fisher. As Jamie and Ralph speed north
on I-75 on their way toward Dayton, Jamie tries desperately to
think of a way to get away from him. In the meantime, Lily has made
a few discoveries about her new friend Emma that lead her to wonder
what the true story is behind Emma's behavior.
While it seems obvious where things are headed, Joy Fielding
manages to insert enough twists and turns into the pages of MAD
RIVER ROAD to surprise the reader and keep those pages turning. The
book ends with a climactic scene where Ralph holds the fate of all
three women in his hands. Who will come out the victor?
While this book is a work of fiction, the actual road, Mad River
Road, is not. I live in Dayton, Ohio, only a few miles from the Mad
River Road that is in this story. While I'm unaware of Joy
Fielding's connection to the area or what gave her the idea for
this particular story set on "my" Mad River Road, I do know that
I'll probably not travel that road again without thinking of this
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 7, 2011