Son of a murderer, Ned Hawkins has resigned himself to an outsider’s existence until he meets Erica Romano, daughter of the town’s new doctor. Their love of the mountains overcomes their dissonant background, and they fall in love and create a life for themselves as forest rangers in the North Cascades—until the release of Ned’s father from prison disrupts the harmony. When Erica rebels against Ned’s renewed fatalism and over-protection, her recklessness sets off a chain of disasters that begins with a near fatal accident and ends with the disappearance of Bonnie, their daughter and finding the body of Ned’s brother in the stream below their house. The search for their child and the investigation into the death brings both face-to-face with the destructive power of their pasts and an uncertain future.
Ned Hawkins dealt with the last hiker of the day and looked at the clock that hung above the backpacks. Five o’clock. Five minutes later, he called goodnight to Paul Stagg, closed the outfitter’s door behind him, and stepped into McKenzie Crossing’s main street. A pair of teenage girls jumped away and made a wide circle around him.
There was a time he would have tipped his hat to their backs. But he’d given it up, like most everything else.
Gisela Dixon on www.readersfavorite.com wrote:
An engrossing story of the influence of family in our lives, and of the struggle by two people to triumph over tragedy. You’ll be captivated from the first page!
Kirscht has penned a poignant story of two good people who struggle to escape their past and carve out a fulfilling life together. At its very core, this novel asks the compelling question of whether you can overcome the influences of family, and also, whether you can survive the consequences of your own actions.
As far as the people of the small town of McKenzie Crossing are concerned, Ned Hawkins is from the wrong side of the tracks. And that’s putting it mildly—his father is a convicted murderer, his brother an alcoholic with a violent streak. Ned has spent his entire life feeling trapped and attempting to outrun his family’s legacy.
As Hawkins Lane opens, Ned has escaped on his daily trek into his beloved Cascade Mountains to find peace and solace. By chance, he comes upon a young woman, Erica Romano, fishing in a creek far from town. Erica is also escaping from the demands of her family, though their circumstances are very different: Erica is the daughter of the town’s new physician and related to the rich and powerful McDonald family, owners of the local mill.
For both, it is love at first sight. Ned has grave reservations about exposing Erica to his family and wants to protect her by keeping his distance. Erica persists, convincing him that she needs him as much as he needs her.
Unfortunately, family almost always finds a way to impact one’s life, and depending on the family, that impact can lead to tragedy. Ned’s brother, who has been spiraling out of control ever since their father was sent to prison, ends up in trouble with the law. Erica, who is by nature a risk-taker, places herself in danger far too often, and the mountains are not always a forgiving place. However, when Ned’s father is released from jail he spreads his own brand of poison, driving deep wedges and creating divided loyalties. Erica and Ned are challenged in ways that even they could not predict nor expect.
Hawkins Lane is an excellent and ultimately redemptive story about the heart-wrenching tragedies a family can survive, and about the healing powers of nature and friendship. The characters and the story will linger long after the last page is read.
Hawkins Lane is written in a lyrical manner and the plot and characters are very realistically portrayed. The struggles and prejudices are described very empathetically. This is definitely an eye-opener of a novel in the sense that it reminds us that all of us as individual human beings ought to be judged solely on the basis on our characters and not on any external circumstances. I highly enjoyed reading this novel and, at times, it felt so real that I had to remind myself this isn’t a true story, but a work of fiction.