Cover image for Rush home road : a novel
Rush home road : a novel
Publication Information:
Little, Brown, c2002.
Physical Description:
387 p. ; 24 cm.
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In the spirit of "White Oleander" and "The Color Purple" comes a heartbreaking and page-turning story about an 80-year-old woman who confronts and relives her life when a five-year-old girl is abandoned on her doorstep.

Author Notes

Lori Lansens has written several screenplays. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Certain novels recall fairy tales. Their heroes are banished, repeatedly challenged, until finally, foes vanquished, they make their triumphant homecoming. Though it opens in 1978 in a Chatham, Ontario, trailer park, Lansens's poignant debut is just such a novel. At its heart is Adelaide Shadd, a 70-year-old black woman who takes in five-year-old Sharla Cody when Sharla's "white trash" mother abandons her. As Addy turns Sharla from a malnourished, heedless child into a healthy, thoughtful girl, she recollects her own past. Addy grew up in Rusholme, a fictional cousin to the many Ontario communities founded by fugitive slaves brought north by the Underground Railroad. By 1908, when Addy is born, Rusholme is settled almost entirely by black farmers and is close to idyllic. But a rape and subsequent pregnancy force Addy to run away from Rusholme (she thinks of it as a command: "Rush home"), not to return for many years. Addy's life her marriage, her children, her journey to Detroit and back to Canada is the rich core of a novel also laden with history: Lansens manages to work in not only the Railroad, but also Prohibition and the Pullman porter movement. This is artfully done, but Lansens doesn't handle the novel's smaller scenes quite as well: she tends to drop narrative threads and confuse chronology. Some readers will resent the repeated plucking of their heartstrings, too, given how much Addy and Sharla suffer. Nonetheless, Lansens has created in Addy a truly noble character, not for what she suffered in the past but for what she does in the novel's present. (May 1) Forecast: This is resolutely women's fiction, as jacket copy comparisons to White Oleander and She's Come Undone underscore. Though it lacks the finesse of either of those two novels, the well-drawn portrait of Addy will capture and hold readers' attention and could make the book a popular reading group choice. Time Warner Audio; foreign rights sold in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Five-year-old Sharla Cody, a child of mixed racial heritage, is abandoned by her mother, who takes off with her latest boyfriend. Addy Shadd, their 70-year-old neighbor in the trailer park, takes Sharla in and finds new meaning in her long and tragic life. Addy has never fully recovered from a series of traumatic events in her life, beginning when she was hurt and deserted by her family and friends in the small town of Rusholme, a town settled by fugitive slaves who arrived in Canada via the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. Emotional demands triggered by Sharla's presence in her life reignite many painful memories. As the story moves back and forth over much of the 70 years of Addy's life, the reader learns of her personal struggles and the changes in race relations along the border of Canada and the U.S. But as Addy's flashbacks become more pronounced, they hint at her deterioration and heighten the need to find a home for Sharla. A poignant novel about the power of love and forgiveness. --Vanessa Bush

Kirkus Review

A plot-driven first from Canadian Lansens strains to affirm love and redemption as an ailing slave-descendant becomes guardian of a mixed-race child. The story explores the lives of those Canadian blacks whose ancestors fled north during the American Revolution or by way of the Underground Railroad. Addy Shadd, who grew up in Rusholme, a town settled by fugitive slaves, must now survive not only racism but additional story-demanded tragedies and sorrows in a tale that makes her victim less of character than of plot. The story moves between past and present as Addy relates how the white woman Collette Depuis asks her care for her five-year-old daughter Sharla for the summer. Addy lives in a mobile home in the black section of a trailer park, and when the grubby and unkempt Sharla arrives with neither baggage nor the money Collette promised, Addy sees that the girl is of mixed race, though Sharla has no idea who her father is. Collette vanishes, and, touched by Sharla's plight, the 80-year-old Addy sets out to raise her as memories of her own childhood and past come back to her. She recalls her first love, the death of her only brother, and her rape, when she was 15, by her father's bootlegging associate. When her pregnancy began showing and she was locked out of the house, she fled to Detroit, where a black family took her in. She describes now how the baby died at birth; how she moved to nearby Chatham and married Mose, a porter; bore a daughter who died with Mose in a railway accident; and the lonely years that followed. With Addy's health now failing rapidly, she and Sharla both find redemption and closure when they finally make it back to Rusholme (as in Rush Home Road). Brimming over with good intentions, but a relentlessly churning plot makes for an unconvincing ride.

Library Journal Review

As this first novel opens, 70-year-old Addy Shadd is living a peaceful trailer-park existence in the company of down-and-outers like Collette, who leaves her daughter with Addy and then disappears. Five-year-old Sharla is neither lovely nor lovable, and Addy's habit of solitude is hard to break, but as the two outcasts learn to care for each other, they begin healing from the abuse that they have suffered. Memories of Addy's childhood days in Rusholme, a Canadian border town settled by runaway slaves in the 1800s, come rushing back and carry the reader away. Addy recalls intimate details a small brother who died, past lovers, children now gone, and the many people who betrayed her while historical events like the Underground Railroad, the Pullman porter movement, and Prohibition frame her account and reflect some of the hardships suffered by African Americans, even in Canada. Though Addy has led a hard life, her beautiful, gentle spirit, her wise and loving way with Sharla, and an ultimate message of hope redeem the book from melancholy. A beautiful debut; recommended for all public libraries. Jennifer Baker, Seattle P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Fish Addy didn?t know where to go. The rain had stopped, but she was still soaked and shivering and her clothes grew stiff in the ill wind. She imagined the child inside her was shivering too, so she wrapped her arms across her stomach, whispering, ?We gonna be fine. We gonna be fine,? even though she knew they weren?t. She looked into the black night and was grateful she was bone cold and so hungry she could think of nothing beyond food and shelter. All but one of the houses in Rusholme were dark and silent. Addy had wandered in circles for a time, then found herself standing in front of the little house on Fowell Street. She could see Laisa sitting in a hardback chair near the window. Her mother?s lamplight flickered, and a dark oil cloud settled above her head. She was mending a good white-collar shirt of her husband?s, ashamed her son had not a good shirt of his own to be buried in. Addy remembered how Laisa?d scolded Leam for the grass stains on his Sunday shirt after the church supper in June when he?d been showing off for Beatrice Brown. Laisa had hated his love for the pretty young girl, believing it was drawn from the same well as his Mama love, and she?d go thirsty if he loved Birdie too much. She?d said, ?Fine, you keep your coat on then, Leam, no matter how hot it gets this summer, ?cause them grass stains never coming out them elbows and that teach you about showing off.? But she couldn?t bury her son with grass stains on his elbows, and she was glad to have a chore and to do for him this one last time. Laisa?s hands had stopped shaking when she picked up her needle and thread, and there was comfort in the dance of her fingers and the tiny perfect stitches they made. Addy watched her through the window for some time before she willed her feet to move in the direction of the church. In the mile between her home and the church, Addy felt the shroud of darkness settle on her shoulders. The rain was hard and lashed her face. The doors to the church would not be locked but Addy could not go inside. It wasn?t God she feared but the fat Pastor and the way his eyes had hated her. The old shed near the graveyard was unlocked and although Addy was afraid of the restless spirits, she opened the door, squatted on the ground, and was glad to be out of the wind. She leaned up against the shovels, telling her teeth to stop chattering and her baby to be still. Then Addy told herself, as she would tell herself all her life, that although she was the cause of what happened, she did not cause what happened. It was then she thought of the lake and the cliff across the road and how simple to raise her arms like Jesus and spiral down. She imagined what it?d be like under the water, walking on the deep sandy bottom, seeing Chester and Leam swimming there like fish. She thought how they?d wave and say, ?Glad you come, Addy. We can all be together now and it ain?t even so bad down here.? But she felt terror at the notion of gulping for air and finding water instead. Near dawn Addy woke, remembering the horror of the previous day and that it was not a dream and time to go. The gravediggers would be along any time now, and her brother put to rest by sundown. She stood with some effort and opened the shed door to the dark November sky. The graves of her ancestors were grouped together at the far end of the yard and she went there now, for it?d be Leam?s final home and her last chance to say goodbye. She looked at the gravestones of her father?s people, unknown to her, feeling little for their dead souls. She looked up to Heaven and saw sky. She looked at the ground and saw earth. She closed her eyes and whispered, ?Leam? L?il Leam? Are you there?? And because she couldn?t hear him, but was certain he was there, Addy imagined a talk with his ghost, and whispered it out loud to make it feel real. ?L?il Leam?? ?Yes, Adelaide?? ?When we was children and you got sick and near died, I prayed the Lord take me instead and leave you to grow to a man. Did you know that, Leam?? ?I knew that, Little Sister. I know you loved me well.? ?We never did fight and hate each other like other brothers and sisters. I always felt proud of that.? ?I did too, Addy. You were always my good friend.? ?And I told Birdie Brown all the good things about you and never said how you chewed your fingers and weren?t fond of a bath.? ?I know that too.? ?It weren?t Chester done me wrong, Leam. Do you know that?? ?Chester told me how he loved you. He?s sorry he never got to say so. Don?t worry, Addy. The Lord knows the truth.? ?But if the Lord knows the truth, why am I here in the graveyard instead of shaking you awake for your day?s work? Why can?t the Lord tell Daddy the truth so he can take me back in his house?? ?That?s all a mystery, Addy. It?s just what is.? ?I got to go now before the gravediggers come.? ?I know.? ?You cold?? ?I?m not cold.? ?Goodbye, Leam.? ?Goodbye, Addy. I?ll be with you.? Addy opened her eyes, felt the wind whip up around her, and heard a gull scream overhead. She knew the bird was Leam, showing off his new flying spirit, and felt better. The trees were bare but the woods were thick and gave enough cover to hide. Addy couldn?t walk on the road for fear of being seen. She couldn?t stand the shame. Besides, she didn?t yet know where she?d go or what she?d do. She ached from the cold and felt dizzy as she crouched near a fragrant evergreen. Addy was surprised when she awoke that she?d fallen asleep. She could not feel the tip of her nose. She was poised to come out of the bush when she saw the first of the mourners arrive for her brother?s funeral. She moved through the trees, closer to the church, so she could watch and listen and even join in a hymn. Leam Shadd had been a loved boy and all of Rusholme showed up to send him on his way to the Lord. Addy shivered, wishing she were inside the big warm church. She imagined the Pastor telling the congregation that the best thing to do was pray for the souls of the sinners, exalt the righteous, and never speak to each other about what had happened. God moves in mysterious ways, Addy knew, and today, she thought, that was true. Excerpted from Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.