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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You Hardcover – February 28, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Debut novelist Troy spins a sprawling mid-nineteenth-century novel, tightly interweaving four separate narrative strands into a vivid tapestry of Civil War–era America. As the U.S. teeters on the brink of civil war, issues of immigration, slavery, and abolition vie for national attention. Young Ethan McOwen, a refuge from the “Great Hunger” makes his way to New York City, a bustling metropolis in which opportunity abounds, but young Irish lads are not always welcomed with open arms. Pampered Marcella Arroyo defies her family and social conventions to become an outspoken abolitionist. Slaves Micah and Mary pursue the ever-elusive goal of freedom and self-determination. As these four young lives intersect, their personal stories are played out against a backdrop of critical historical events. Troy does an adept job of imbuing each character with a distinctive voice and point-of-view, keeping the story line flowing while providing a panoramic overview of a significant juncture in history. --Margaret Flanagan



“This big tale takes us from the world of the Irish Famine to the American Civil War—a wonderful family saga of poignant history, thrilling action, and romance.  But what I like best of all is the way Peter Troy writes it: This book is rich, it’s warm, it’s got heart and it’s got guts.  I highly recommend it.”  
—Edward Rutherfurd, New York Times bestselling author of New York: The Novel and The Rebels of Ireland

“Peter Troy weaves an epic tale of triumph and sorrow in the years before and during the war around the lives and voices of four individuals struggling to survive a world packed with noble hopes and chaotic events. Through the lives of Ethan, Marcella, Mary, and Micah, Troy reminds us again and again why the American Civil War remains the single most important moment in our history. Beautifully told, Troy has given us a story that will be with me for many years to come.”
—Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You is a generous and sweeping Civil War saga about Southern slaves and newly arrived immigrants linked by a shared desire for abolition and freedom. Ranging from the clawing hunger of the Irish Famine to the abusive captivity of South Carolina, from rough-and-tumble Five Points to the genteel streets of Richmond, Virginia, this affecting and moving tale links disparate lives of impressive integrity, suffering and triumph, and yields a deeply personal portrait of the immigrants who fought the war and the people they fought it for. A hopeful, magnanimous depiction of America at its most vulnerable.” 
—Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter, winner of the Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385534485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534482
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book- I'm completely engrossed. I haven't felt this pulled into a book since I read the first Harry Potter 12 years ago. The time period is so beautifully depicted in the story- the imagery is incredibly vivid-- when Ethan was on the vessel sailing toward America- I can just feel for him- trapped in there, holding on to hope. No matter where life leads him, Ethan never lets go of hope. Ethan's hope is inspired by his love for his late sister who died during "the Hunger" in Ireland. The hope that Ethan has nourishes his faith and enables him to deal with an incredible hardship as his family adjusts to life in America- and the struggles and challenges that face them.

While the book is set during the Civil War, I still find myself relating to the characters in a truly dynamic way- I can feel the emotions they are going through. For instance, Ethan has a bravery that is motivated by the love he has for his family, the desire he has to succeed - it just makes me wonder if I would have been as brave as him if I were in the same situation- perhaps if my immigrant relatives were who came through New York when they first arrived in America.

While reading this book, I felt completely pulled out of my reality and into the story. It was a moving experience. As an avid reader- I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not someone who spends too much time dabbling in the genre of historical fiction, but I have to say, this piece of work had me hooked from the first page. I don't ever remember reading through an entire book as quickly as I did this one. If I didn't have to go to work I would have had the whole thing read within 24 hours.

The four characters are each so unique and are easy for the reader to relate to. This tale will deliver you a mix of emotions, and as you become more attached to the characters you'll find yourself empathizing and celebrating with them throughout the whole novel. Although May the Road Rise Up to Meet You focuses on four characters, I take a special interest in African American history and therefore quite enjoyed the characters of Micah and Mary. I do believe there is something for everyone in this book.

If you're looking for a recommendation, here it is: you won't be sorry if you purchase this book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You: A Novel
Wonderful! This book goes beyond just the entertainment that a novel can bring. This book made me reflect on my life. It reminds me that wherever I am in my life is exactly where I'm supposed to be, but if I want to change where I am, I can do it. The characters, in their colloquial language and accents, written so honestly and purely by Peter Troy take you on a personal journey that makes you laugh and cry at times, but most often, makes you think. You can't help but root for all of them to overcome obstacles that might thwart someone on the path to where they wish to go, as they press on with the help of the kindness of others of this Earth and those gone by. What an inspirational tale of the hope that something better than where you are in life is capable. Once you read this book, you will want to pass it on to someone, which is just want Ethan McOwen would want you to do!
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Format: Hardcover
In "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You" we encounter four remarkable characters in this memorable debut of historical fiction spanning the mid-nineteenth century through the end of the Civil War.

Ethan McOwen leaves Ireland in 1847 at the height of the famine and sails to America under squalid conditions joining his father and brother in New York. He becomes a successful photographer and volunteer in the Civil War with the Irish Brigade. Marcella Arroyo is a young Spanish woman whose wealthy family moves to America. She yearns to be independent and join the abolitionist movement as soon as she turns 21 and can move out of her parents home. Mary and Micah are slaves. While each has suffered harsh treatment in the past, Mary now has a better position as a house slave and companion for her owner's daughter while Micah is considered a prize possession as a skilled carpenter and works long hours.

The four characters have parallel lives. Each is setting out on a journey, a new beginning, and along the way their stories intersect. Ethan has moved to American to escape the famine, Marcella begins anew when her family shuns her for leaving home, and Micha and Mary both experience being sold to new owners and separated from everything they have ever known. We learn their history and experience their present as the period comes alive with richly detailed descriptions. We feel the despair of a people suffering a famine, the grim conditions on a ship crossing the ocean, the harshness and pain of life as a slave, the horror of the Civil War battlefield and ultimately the beauty of love. There was much to like about each of these strong, complex characters.

The story is told in alternating points of view, rotating between the four main characters.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book - the characters were each so different and so compelling. I admit that it took me a while to get used to the sounds of the Southern and Irish voices but once I got over the first few pages and could focus on what Troy's characters were saying, I carried the book with me everywhere.

On the one hand, you might expect the book to be depressingly heavy since the lead characters go through so much - from the Great Famine in Ireland to slavery in the American South to the American Civil War and an escape to freedom. But while Peter Troy gives us a full sense of what it must have been like - undoubtedly drawing on his background as a history teacher - he also delivers characters with such heart, hope, and integrity that we come to care about them.

The book opens with the funeral of Ainslinn, the young sister and closest friend of twelve-year-old Ethan McOwen in Ireland during the Great Famine (The "Hunger"). The Hunger killed one million people and forced one million more to migrate to other lands to survive. Ethan and his family are on the verge of starvation and have decided to leave their home for New York. Ethan, his mother and his Aunt Em can only bring what they can carry during their 50 mile walk to the harbor. They have some raw potatoes, Aunt Em carries some of her wedding china and Ethan carries the six precious books he shared with his sister Ainslinn. There's this heartbreaking scene that sort of reminded me of The Gift of the Maji when Aunt Em can't carry her china and Ethan leaves behind some of his books to carry the plates for his Aunt Em. It had me crying as I read on the subway.

"Ethan watches his Aunt unwrap the six ceramic plates her husband had bought her as a wedding present.
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