I didn't find "The Nightingale" to be the work of utter perfection that so many others did, but I liked it enough to check out other Kristin Hannah books. I then liked "The Great Alone" enough to try a third, which is how I landed here, with "Firefly Lane." (Which unfortunately led to the waste of Kindle battery charge that was "Fly Away," but that's a whole other review.)
I enjoyed "Firefly Lane" well enough as a light, rather vacuous beach-type read, and the three stars are a tribute to the fact that I didn't think of it as a waste of time. It does have its issues, though, and they appear throughout the book like an annoying Greek chorus. They're a bit like being stung by a jellyfish: You forget how painfully annoying it is until it happens again.
Foremost among "Firefly Lane's" jellyfish Greek chorus is an issue many other reviewers have already pointed out. Prepare to be hit over the head by every product, piece of apparel, type of hair accessory, toy, TV show, song, game and more from each of the decades we spend with Tully and Kate. How many times can we hear about "low-slung bell-bottomed jeans" in the 70s? "Banana clips" in the 80s? And this is coming from someone who usually loves descriptions of clothes in period pieces. (Can you imagine if, each and every time one of Scarlett's dresses was described in "Gone with the Wind," Margaret Mitchell had repeated that under her dress, Scarlett wore a hoopskirt, several petticoats and pantalettes, just in case you somehow didn't catch that we're in the 1860s? That's what you get here.) Not only is this tedious and annoying, but sometimes it's even a detriment to one's reading comprehension. (At one point Tully asks Kate why she's "being so Joanie about this." Having spent only babyhood in the 1970s, I haven't the foggiest what that even means.)
Throughout, there's a general absence of adherence to the old writer's standby, "Show, don't tell." And frankly, it really annoys me when I see bestselling authors getting away with that. Kristin Hannah gets away with it in the worst kind of way.
And are the good guys always drop-dead gorgeous? Do we need to be told twice of Johnny's "black Irish" handsomeness? (Did we even need to be told once?) And are the drop-dead gorgeous good guys always emotionally unavailable loners who wear rock band T-shirts? And if they are, do we need to be told this about them each and every time we have a scene with them?
I found the TullyandKate friendship to be way over the top, and frankly don't think a "best friends forever" relationship could actually survive 30 years if it really were like the relationship described here. The codependency would have putrefied it eventually, and it would have died a natural death somewhere in young adulthood. Friendships can and do survive for one's whole lifespan -- I have several that have and do -- but not on such unhealthy terms.