The Rhythm of the Road: A Novel

Albyn Leah Hall

Thomas Dunne Books,  January 2007

The mesmerizing debut novel about driving trucks, loving music, and growing up

A truck driver's daughter who grows up in the front seat of her father's truck, Jo shares her father's love of country music, junk food, and the open highway. Jo's life is a perfect slice of Americana, except that their "open road" is in England, and her father -- the gentle, melancholy Bobby Pickering -- is from Northern Ireland. The only truly American thing about Jo is her mother, whom she has never met.

Jo is twelve when she and Bobby pick up hitchhiker Cosima Stewart, an American country singer whose band is touring England. They become dedicated fans, and Cosima, touched by the unlikely duo, comes to regard Jo with an indulgent, even sisterly, eye.

But when Jo is sixteen, Bobby sinks into total despair and Jo seeks refuge in Cosima and the band. Jo's adoration becomes obsessive as she follows her idol all the way to California. Here, in the sweltering Mohave Desert and alone for the first time, Jo must face the painful truths of her own life, the mother she has never known, and the father she can't force from her mind.

With shades of Zadie Smith and Mark Haddon, Albyn Leah Hall's debut is a page-turning study of what frightens us about one another and ourselves -- of how we run away, and from what we can't, ultimately, escape.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780312359447 | Publication Date: January 2007

"One of those rare literary novels -- a fascinating story that keeps you gripped to the end, written in some of the finest prose I have read in a long time. It explores the themes of love, loss, grief, and eventual redemption with sparkling prose that is often funny and sometimes frighteningly chilling. A tender and compelling read!"
--Andrea Levy, author of the Orange Prize-winning novel Small Island

"A stunning novel, a story of obsession and loss played out in the consciousness of a desperate and engaging young woman who was born on the move. Hall has powerful gifts of observation and sensitivity. She renders complex characters in sudden, deft strokes and unfolds with marvelous authority a vivid, funny, touching, and suspenseful world of wonders. I couldn't put this book down."
--Valerie Martin, author of The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories

"A wonderful, full-hearted story, with one of the most memorable heroines in recent fiction. Everyone deserves to read this fine book, and this book deserves to be widely read."
--Hilma Wolitzer, author of The Doctor's Daughter

"I have not stopped thinking about Hall's beautiful and engrossing novel. Her chronicle of a young woman's descent into madness is so rich in compassion and so believable, it should be required reading."
--Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha