Lullaby Road by James Anderson

Lullaby Road

James Anderson

Ben Jones, protagonist of the glowingly reviewed Never-Open Desert Diner, returns in a devastatingly powerful literary crime novel about parenthood, loss, and the desert in winter.

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Winter has come to Route 117, a remote road through the high desert of Utah trafficked only by eccentrics, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. Local truck driver Ben Jones, still in mourning over a heartbreaking loss, is just trying to get through another season of treacherous roads and sudden snowfall without an accident. But then he finds a mute Hispanic child who has been abandoned at a seedy truck stop along his route, far from civilization and bearing a note that simply reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan” And then at the bottom, a few more hastily scribbled words. “Bad Trouble. Tell no one.”.
 
Despite deep misgivings, and without any hint of who this child is or the grave danger he’s facing, Ben takes the child with him in his truck and sets out into an environment that is as dangerous as it is beautiful and silent. From that moment forward, nothing will ever be the same. Not for Ben. Not for the child. And not for anyone along the seemingly empty stretch of road known as Route 117.


Advance Galley Reviews

I found this to be a rather interesting story. I didn't know where it was going and it definitely comes off as a bit strangely written at first. However, sticking with it was definitely worth it. I found myself wanting to finish this one to see where it would end. It's definitely worth the read.

Ben Jones is a trucker who delivers packages to desert rats, hardscrabble ranchers and other assorted exiles who chose to live off 117. One morning, an acquaintance leaves him a note at a truck stop requesting that Ben take charge of his small child because of some unspecified danger. The child is accompanied by a large dog. On the same morning, Ben's 18 year old friend and neighbor dumps her 4 month old infant on him so she can go to class. Instead of taking the day off from work like any sane person would do, Ben piles the whole group into his truck and heads off into a snow storm. The author creates wonderful characters and descriptions. I liked the writing style very much. The people felt real and I wanted to know what happened to them. You really need to read the author's first book, 'The Never - Open Desert Diner', before reading 'Lullaby Road' because there are a lot of references to things that happened in the first book.

When I started reading Lullaby Road I had no idea where it was leading. I was kind of confused because I felt I was just getting a description of someone’s day; where they went, who they met, what they did, etc. But I was alos very curious where the author was leading me in this story. Lullaby Road was so captivating with all of it’s odd characters and places. I loved Ben and so many of the quirky people he comes into contact with. I would absolutely love to read more about Ben. Lullaby Road will make you feel sad, angry and maybe even a little lost at times, but it is worth the read. You won’t be disappointed!

This book was such a delightful, if dark, surprise. James Anderson has created a sumptuous desert noir world, evocative of Frank Miller's "Sin City," full of intriguing characters living on the fringes of society, each with dozens of stories to tell. Anderson fastidiously reveals these stories with the care of a professional poker player. Anderson's artful prose is sharp and distinct even when filtered through Ben Jones, the humbled yet charming champion on this world, whose voice is both callus and devoted as he traverses the microcosm created by the aberrant inhabitants of Route 117. I'm really pleased I can spend a little more time with the protagonist, Ben Jones in Anderson's first novel, "The Never-Open Desert Diner." I'm really looking forward to losing myself along Route 117 again!

I really had to think about how to review this novel without giving away too much plot. I found the characters fascinating and well developed. They all have their secrets that are kept by the desert in which they live, secluded from the outside world except for their interactions with the main character, Ben Jones. Ben is an independent truck driver who delivers essentials to the people who have chosen the hard life offered by the harsh conditions. He has his own story of loss and pain partly shared by the owner of the never open Desert Diner. Starting off on his deliveries one day he finds a mute Hispanic child left for him by a man he barely knows who charges him with looking after the boy. This begins his search for the father as well as his journey with the other intriguing characters of the book. Although this is the second in a series I found it to be quite comprehensive as a stand alone. I loved this book as much for quirky players as the interesting plot lines. I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely love Ben Jones. He is such a good hearted rural truck driver who is always looking out for others. This sequel is fantastic. James Anderson is a great author who is now on my must read list. I hope he continues to write stories about Ben Jones and his adventures on Route 117.

I read this book through First to Read, I started off liking this story of a rural truck driver who ends up with a lost child and a dog. Most of the book centers around his quest to find who the child belongs to. The book is populated with lots of loney rather sad people. I must admit I was having trouble keeping them all straight and wondering what their back story was. It wasn't until I finished the book that I discovered that it was in fact a sequel. Having read the first book might have helped. There seemed to be too many plot lines going on and while they were all tied up at the end, I can't really say I enjoyed the book. If you like convuluted tales with a varied cast of characters perhaps you would enjoy the book.

3.75 stars Thank you to First to Read, Penguin Books and Crown Publishing for this ARC. Expected publication Jan 16, 2018. I again sit in judgement of Ben Jones' life. He is the truck driver from the novel The Never-Open Desert Diner. He is still in Price Utah, running his tractor trailer delivery service on Rt 117 to a group of misfits and miscreants, still befriending and protecting Ginny and her daughter Annabelle. In this novel Ben gets involved with a child smuggling ring, one of his ex's and her new boyfriend, and a child that is mute, but way older than her years. There are a number of accidents - both truck and person - and a few murders. A number of new people join the cast, as well as characters from the Never Open Desert Diner resurface. A number of places I had to laugh and a number of places in this book made me sad. Character development is done well and the changes in the main character, Ben, from one book to the next, are probable. This novel is wrapped up well, while leaving the opening for a followup novel, possibly using Walt's son as its main villain.

I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn't get into it. When I started reading this book, I was unaware that it was a sequel. I thought I might still be able to understand what was going on, but there were quite a few veiled references and allusions made that are probably referring to something from the first book, which is why I wasn't able to follow along. I would definitely recommend people read the first book before reading this one. I also didn't really love the writing style. I found it overly descriptive, especially when it came to automobiles (which I really have no interest in). I also found the plot very confusing: there were a lot of characters introduced and it wasn't always clear how everything was going to play out. I really wanted the story to focus on the child but that was not the case here. There have been a lot of positive reviews out for this book, but it just wasn't for me. I'm giving this a 2/5 stars.

I wasn't sure how to classify this book overall. Is it a mystery? Is it literary fiction? Is it a snapshot into the life of a rural truck driver in Utah? Is it a a comment on the wide variety of people that can be drawn to life in a small area, and the dynamics that develop among those personalities. Keeping that in mind, I found that there were just too many characters and plot lines that were unnecessary in the end. I definitely liked elements of the book. Some of the characters were quite well developed, and the setting was unique. I also learned more about the life of a rural truck driver. I just don't think that I will be recommending this one to everyone I know.

Book Description Winter has come to Route 117, a remote road through the high desert of Utah trafficked only by eccentrics, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. Local truck driver Ben Jones, still in mourning over a heartbreaking loss, is just trying to get through another season of treacherous roads and sudden snowfall without an accident. But then he finds a mute Hispanic child who has been abandoned at a seedy truck stop along his route, far from civilization and bearing a note that simply reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan” And then at the bottom, a few more hastily scribbled words. “Bad Trouble. Tell no one.”. Despite deep misgivings, and without any hint of who this child is or the grave danger he’s facing, Ben takes the child with him in his truck and sets out into an environment that is as dangerous as it is beautiful and silent. From that moment forward, nothing will ever be the same. Not for Ben. Not for the child. And not for anyone along the seemingly empty stretch of road known as Route 117. My Thoughts The harsh and unforgiving environment of the desert and the author's way with words, make the setting as unforgettable as the characters. This was my first book by James Anderson, though I have since discovered that this is actually a sequel to The Never-Open Desert Diner. While I didn't feel lost the way I sometimes do when I've missed a prior book in a series, I do think if I had a magic do-over button, I would read these in order. Every character we encounter along Ben's route is unique and so well written.Not only does Ben wind up responsible for a child, but for a baby and a dog too. I'm certainly not going to spoil the journey for anyone, but I will say the author shows us how bleak and cruel the world can be as well as the good that also exists. The story was fast-paced, I felt transported from the written words on the page to the desert and I gave up some sleep to stay immersed in Ben's world. Thank you, James Anderson and Penguin's First to Read for the digital ARC. I plan to read The Never-Open Desert Diner and look forward to what the author writes next.

This book kept my attention from the first page!!! I found Ben's tale intriguing, and I was constantly trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Great story!

I was given the pleasure of reading this book by Penguin House First to Read program. I felt like this was not the beginning of the book and it continued from someplace else so it took a while for me to get into the book. The book’s main focus is on Ben Jones. He is a truck driver who mainly delivers materials to the residents along Highway 117. Upon one of his deliveries, he was given quite the surprise when he was gifted with a small child and dog from an acquaintance from one of his routes. Throughout the book, we are given the pleasure of getting a sneak peek into Ben’s past. The book goes into Ben’s childhood and his upbringing as an adopted half Jewish, half- Native American. It also gives you a look into his adulthood after his wife was murdered and the development he went through during that time. Providing us with this snip bit of information helps us understand the man Ben is throughout the book. “The desert is the country of you and if you stay long enough you lose track of where you end and where it begins.” The quote that I included above really digs into the issues that arise throughout the book. Sometimes we lose track of the happenings of the world when we are self-involved or content with our lives that it sometimes leaves us not knowing where we begin or where we end. Overall it was a good book and I enjoyed seeing the character development. I really wish the story did not end the way that it did. I wanted more answers to what happened to the girl but also I wanted to know a little bit more about Walt’s son and the events that nearly shook the town. I felt kind of lost with the murders and the illegal operation that took place. I also wanted to know more about John, the preacher who carried the wooden cross along the highway. I wanted to know more about his past and what happened to him after his accident. I figure there will be another book since it was left with unanswered questions.

This book tells the story of Ben Jones, who drives his truck up and down Route 117 in Utah, and who keeps the citizens of this remote part of the United States connected to the wider world. Through his travels we get to meet the unusual characters who choose to live in this isolated part of the world, and get a brief, but enlightening, glimpse into their lives. The book opens as Ben finds an abandoned child, and is asked to look after the young girl, whose family has been disappeared. I was a little confused during the opening few chapters (but now realize that this book is a sequel, so events that happened in a previous book were being referred to), but soon got into the rhythm of the book, enjoying the journey. The book’s setting is a desolate, cold landscape, which lends itself perfectly to the story the author is telling. Jones is obviously a tough character, but I enjoyed learning more about him as the book continued, as he displayed his humanity and kindness.

Before writing this, I reread my review of Anderson's first book featuring Ben Jones, The Never Open Desert Diner, and feel I could cut-and-paste that entire review here only changing details that pertain to Lullaby Road. Four months have passed since the earlier novel concluded, and Ben still plies Route 117 delivering essentials (even water in some cases) to the sparse population, covering round-trip 100 miles in each direction. But on his first leg of today's trip he has company. A small child and dog that have been left at his gas-up place (called Stop and Gone) as well as an infant that is a holdover from his previous story. In this book, the characters are just as colorful as you'd expect from people who choose to live in the desert and semi-ghost towns along his route, and the writing is just as beautiful in places ("The closed sign hung from the front door and the place never open seemed more closed these days than in times past. The two antique glass bubble pops were just homeless old men who had run out of conversation.") There is again more than its share of humor ("Delivering propane was technically against the law for me to deliver, but I technically did it all the time for others and I technically didn’t care.") The noir elements are all in place, but they due more to weather and desert/mesa views with gorgeous sunsets and snowsqualls visible miles off. I'm so glad Anderson has made a series of this and look forward to the next installment of Ben on the road.

I was easily able to get into this book without reading the first book. The book is an easy read and quickly draws you in, who is the mystery child Ben is asked to take? What happens when he is also saddled with an infant on his usual delivery run up 117? Throw in some eccentric characters, a desolate highway, the desert in winter, a mystery truck and a horrific accident and you have a suspenseful read that keeps you asking who, what, and why until the very end. Anderson does a great job of not giving away the ending, and it's not easily guessed, either. Anderson's writing is very descriptive and sets a nice pace. I received this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program, however the opinion in this review is strictly mine.

Most of this book is a comfortable tour of 117 with Ben Jones, a good guy who used to be a bad guy and drives a truck. He makes the same stops over and over, so we get to know the hardscrabble citizens of the wintry desert in Utah. They're all stubborn and suspicious, survivors, and maybe a little bit criminal and/or even crazy. A fantastic ensemble of characters, and I enjoyed my time with them. The plot is so slow-moving as to be an aside - the characters are front and center. I usually roll my eyes when other books are labeled as the genre 'women's fiction', but I feel like this book is almost the male equivalent of those books, maybe 'bro fiction'. It's rough and tumble, the men are honorable if perhaps too quick to draw, and the women steely-eyed. Yes, there are a couple mysteries thrown in, but they're not the centerpiece of the book. If you came looking for a fast-paced thriller, look elsewhere. A couple reviewers have mentioned that it would be better to read the first book in this series before attempting this one, and perhaps it would be, but I did not and didn't find I was missing much. The backstory is repeatedly explained, and the book stands on its own. Ben Jones drives roughly the same route into the desert every day, and so he meets the same characters in more or less the same order every day, so it doesn't take long to get each character associated with their place and backstory. The truck route makes for an interesting thread to weave the subplots together. I enjoyed it as an easy, slow read on a particularly cold winter day. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

You really need to read the author's first book, "The Never-Open Desert Diner", before reading "Lullaby Road" because there are a lot of references to things that happened in the first book and I think that it would be frustrating not to know what all those references mean. Frankly, I wasn't crazy about the first book, which couldn't decide whether it was literary fiction (with a few mysterious undertones) or a thriller. It didn't do either particularly well, the beginning was like watching paint dry and when things finally began to happen, they just weren't interesting to me. The good news is that I enjoyed "Lullaby Road" a lot more. Ben Jones is an almost 40 year old Jewish/Native American orphan raised in Utah by a Mormon couple. He's a trucker delivering packages to "desert rats, hardscrabble ranchers and other assorted exiles who chose to live off 117". He keeps stumbling upon bad situations. One morning before he starts his route an acquaintance leaves him a note at a truck stop requesting that Ben take charge of his small child because of some unspecified danger. The child is accompanied by a large dog. On the same morning, Ben's 18 year old friend and neighbor dumps her 4 month old infant on him so she can go to class. Instead of taking the day off from work like any sane person would do, Ben piles the whole group into his truck and heads off into a snow storm. The author creates wonderful characters and descriptions, like the man who has invented a solar-powered doghouse complete with reading light. Unfortunately, they all seem to be armed. However, he insists on introducing mysteries that get in the way of the character studies at which he excels. This book has a hit-and-run, an abandoned child and several murders. That's a lot of crime for a town with almost no residents. The mysteries are all resolved by the end but I confess that I was flummoxed by the child's story. It was too subtle or cryptic for me. The bad guy just appeared out of the blue and I have no idea what happened with the kid at the end of the book. Some better editing would have helped here, and elsewhere in the book as well. (If you use term "desert rat" 4 times in 3 pages, you've used it too much.") I also could have done with fewer vehicle descriptions. Ultimately, I liked the writing style very much. The people felt real and I wanted to know what happened to them. I would read more by this author, but I wish he would skip the mysteries next time. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Something in the way this tale is written puts me in mind of the barrenness of No Country For Old Men......surrounded by miles of emptiness and silence, mysteries and pain, Ben Jones travels a worn path trying to do right by an innocent child left in his care, his complex and compelling acquaintances, and ultimately himself as he tries to distance himself from a troubled past. Lonely, but never completely alone, perhaps in danger but never really afraid for his own life, Ben goes to the extreme to save the child left in his care. This is a wonderfully and subtly written story about human suffering, pain and histories hidden for as long as they possibly can be.

I hate reviews with spoilers so you won't read any here. All you'll get is my humble opinion about the quality of this novel. I'm new to this author and enjoyed the book, even though I missed the fact that Lullaby Road is the second book in a series, though that does answer a few questions I had while reading. There’s a lot going on in this book. Mr. Anderson threw in everything And the kitchen sink, but somehow made it work. I was engrossed, if somewhat confused, throughout the story, maybe due to not having read the first book in the series, though Anderson does a decent job of making this a stand-alone read. It’s probably just me, but I’m still not sure if I got everything the author was attempting to convey. The main character, Ben, is a study in contrasts. Is he the benevolent soul that cares for an abandoned child, or is he a hard scrabble trucker one step away from disaster of one sort or another? All in all, I did find this to be an interesting read and would read more in the series. I was chosen to read an advance copy of this book as part of the Penguin's First to Read program. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this advance reading copy. I think I would have benefited from reading the previous book first to understand the relationship between the characters. The main character, Ben Jones was well developed and I enjoyed his story. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and will most likely read the first in the series.

For a couple of days after finishing Lullaby Road by James Anderson I kept catching myself going to pick it up so I could spend more time out on 117 with Ben Jones and all the characters in his desert universe. I got a little sad every time I realized I'd finished it.

I couldn't figure out why I felt so disconnected to this book, then when I saw some of the other reviews I realized that this is book #2. No wonder I felt lost! I struggled to want to read Lullaby Road, which was a shame because I think it has a lot of potential. It would work well as a mini series maybe, with multiple episodes, but as a book it just seemed to drag on and on. Not something I'd read again, and definitely would need to read book 1 if I wanted to enjoy it more.

I wish the description had said it was a sequel. I don’t mind reading a series but would rather read them from the beginning. Did not finish the book. Didn’t care about the characters. Writing was fine but would not go out of my way to read another book by this author

Aside from several typos, (page 140, They all focused 'one' me needs to be "on" me. and page 191 just divorced would disappear this has already been said and page 152 gear ratio didn't allow for 'an' decent towing capacity should be 'any'), this book is a real page turner. Clever and very entertaining I would recommend "Lullaby Road" for anyone who is tired of the boiler plate books and is looking for something better. I definitely enjoyed this book.

4.5 stars. Featuring many of the same people from The Never-Open Desert Diner, Lullaby Road by James Anderson is an intriguing mystery starring independent trucker Ben Jones who once again finds himself caught up in the lives of the eccentric people along his delivery route. Set against the backdrop of the Utah desert and lonely highway 117, Ben finds himself swept into drama of other people’s making. Unable to refuse a virtual stranger’s plea, he reluctantly takes young Juan into his care temporarily. His day gets even more complicated when Ginny, the teen mom he has been helping, asks him to take her baby Annabelle for the day since her sitter canceled. With an early winter snowstorm on its way, Ben sets about making the day’s deliveries but every time he turns around, he is distracted by the problems that manage to find the people along his route. Ben remains a complex man who has left his boozing and brawling days behind him. Despite his reluctance to take young Juan with him, the alternative is turning the young boy over to social services which is something Ben will only consider as a last resort. His admiration for how Ginny pretty much singlehandedly turning her life around also makes it impossible to tell her no when she finally asks for help. Ben’s interactions with the various people along his route really showcase how kind-hearted and compassionate he is. He is respectful for his customers’ desire for privacy but he does not hesitate to push them when he needs answers. The novel is a little busy due to a number of secondary story arcs but the various storylines all play out rather neatly. Ben is quickly distracted from his quandary over Juan after itinerant preacher John is severely injured in a hit and run accident. Ben also faces the loss of someone dear to him but he also realizes that he must not interfere with their decision. He is also somewhat troubled by new information about diner owner Walt Butterfield but he avoids finding out what is going on with the elderly veteran. Then there is the stunning double homicide that takes the decision about what to do with Juan out of Ben’s hands once and for all. Lullaby Road is another intricately plotted character driven story that also features a perplexing mystery. Ben is a complex protagonist whose troubled past does not disguise the fact that he has a heart of gold. The desolate, beautiful and harsh desert is the perfect setting for the unfolding drama and James Anderson brings the novel to a somewhat hurried but satisfactory conclusion.

It's never easy when you jump into a series without reading the first book. I honestly didn't really care for this one. It had a slow, wordy start for me, then the pace picked up and I felt the ending was rushed. I couldn't really connect with the Ben or any of the other characters and I think that's the heart of my dislike for the overall story. I do appreciate the opportunity to read it.

I really dreaded this book when I first got started. I found the writing to be overly descriptive and wordy. There were a lot of the points were some of the actions completed by the main character seemed really strange and out there. I cannot relate to how he goes from being compassionate to becoming physical and maniacal. It seemed like a character flaw of sorts. The overall storyline was pretty fast paced and intense from time to time, but I struggled with understanding how Ben reached an assumption about a character without really making it visible at any point to the reader. I would have to give this two stars if asked.

James Anderson's Lullaby Road is almost as good as his first, The Never-Open Desert Diner. Ben Jones is still traveling the lanes of Route 117 and some familiar names appear in this book, too. My favorites this time happen to be a silent little girl with the speed of a gazelle and her dog. There's a lot going on in and around the town of Rockmuse and not much of it good. Ben Jones has unwittingly stuck his foot in the middle of it.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I enjoyed what I read so far. But I am unable to finish this book due to time constraints.

Thank you First to Read for the opportunity for review this book Lullaby Road by James Anderson. This book was interesting, kind of slow but then it had a strong writing to it with a long list of characters with their own drama that seem to wrap around Ben and draw him in. I found some parts interesting and then hard to believe, I will not spoil those parts for the future readers. The part that kept staying with me through the whole book was "seat belts" and the other was the synopsis "Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan” and my thought was how did whomever that left the note know his name was Ben, however when you read the book then it makes sense. There was a lot of talk of Utah, weather, and the desert description, it sounds like a lonely scary place. If you're looking for evil, suspense, shady and odd ball characters, guns, thrills, children, a dog, a horse, accidents, mystery, bad weather and a man name Ben who juggles 1 mute kid, 1 infant and a dog while on the road doing his job in a tractor trailer than this is the book for you. I do recommend this book and I will read other books by this Author in the future. thanks again First To Read Cherie'

When I started this novel, I found it that it was giving too much description. After reading few chapters it progressed very fast. After being captivated by the plot, I felt like the ending were rushed and too for a full five-star rating. You need thread book one to follow the sequence. Perhaps the third book will hit that mark. This is a good book.

Wonderfully written! I struggle reading books that are not captivating from the first page, but this book not only captivated my attention it kept me turning the pages.

A novel about a truck driver who supplies all of the unique, misfit people who live in the desert of Utah. A very bleak, uncomfortable story beginning with picking up a small girl and her dog and the terrible things that she has been involved in. Supporting cast of characters include a lot of desperate, gun slinging men and a guy who carries a giant cross back and forth on the highway all day, every day. I have to say this wasn’t my favorite. I feel as if the characters never really became human enough to relate to, so it was hard to feel attached to the story line. The main characters story was never really properly explained except for small details peppered throughout. The writing was good and the landscape he evoked was as desolate as he was hoping for, but all in all I feel as if it fell short of my expectations.

Despite not having read "Never Open Desert Diner," I found myself really enjoying this book. The story starts off slow and the setting (Utah, desert, winter) doesn't really jump out at me as being the most interesting. But James Anderson does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters with just enough detail to be compelling without being overdone. The mysteries are interesting to follow and the writing is well-done. I will definitely read more of Anderson's works after this one.

If you have ever taken a road trip, you will recognize route 117, no matter what route you were on. Closed up stores such as the "Never Open Desert Diner" (book one in this series)and a scattering of houses which will make you wonder who lives in them and what would make them choose to live in "the middle of nowhere". All that was missing was the faded billboards promising good food and clean beds. Ben Jones is a trucker with a wry sense of humor and a heart of gold. So when one of the eccentric residents along his route pins a note to a child asking Ben to "keep my son safe" Ben loads him into his Rig for the day, despite his misgivings. I thought that this book would be about the relationship that would form between Ben and his "passenger", based on the book's synopsis, but it is really about all of the 'trouble" that Ben would encounter because of his decision to help. Darker and more depressing than what I had expected, it might be a great fit for fans of Wiley Cash novels (and the like) and it can be read without reading the first book in the series. In fact, the author does such a good job of filling you in on the first book, that I wondered if there would be enough surprises for me if I were to read book one now, so, I would suggest reading the books in order if this sounds like a series for you. Thank You to "First To Read" for the ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

I'll start with something I really liked about Lullaby Road. Even though this is the second book about Ben and it tells what happens in the first book, it made me want to read the first book. That's tricky to do- to tell what happened before in such a way that the reader wants to know the hows and whys of it. The book starts off a little slow and pushes credulity. First, a veritable stranger leaves his child at a truck stop for Ben to take care of and then Ginny, his teenage renter/accountant, asks him to take her baby for the day. Just one of those things would have been interesting. Both of those things happening at once is nearing the ridiculous. After having these children thrust upon him, Ben sets about his day. For someone who grumbled a lot about needing to get going, being pressed for time, etc. he sure spent a lot of time chatting with people, but eventually, the story gets going. There are deaths, lots of deaths, and lots of men with guns looking to shoot someone. Most of the people he meets are interesting, although not much detail is given about them. That's okay. It kept the story from being bogged down with irrelevant backstory. The book has multiple mysteries to figure out. Some were better explored than others. One of the bad guys comes not out of left field, but from somewhere out in the parking lot. If you blinked, you missed him. I'm also not 100% certain about the ending either. Now, the thing I really didn't like at all was the character of Ginny. She seemed to exist in the novel only to provide elements to allow the plot to move along or a certain action to be taken. The purpose in giving Ben the baby was an excuse to return to Rockmusee. That sort of thing. I also don't like the sort of character that works hard at two jobs, goes to school, feels the pressure of not having enough money, and spends her money on frivolous expensive things like baby onesies with cute skull prints. I think her entire storyline could have been eliminated and it would have worked better. Overall, I liked this book once I got into it. I started off wondering if I should read the previous book, then decided I really wanted to read the previous one. Once Ben arrives in Rockmuse, the story became interesting and faster paced. It's slow to begin, a little cluttered in places, but definitely worth reading.

An excellent, compelling read! Anderson crafts some odd, original characters....some that you'll like, & others you'll hate! He also uses a different locale to pitch the story....& it all works really well! He is also very good at leading the reader on....into what the reader knows will be dangerous territory....he's really good at 'the build-up'! This is actually a follow up to his previous book "The Never-Open Desert Diner". I hadn't read that book, & it didn't hinder my reading experience with this one......but I will certainly look for that 1st book! If this is to be a series....I'm all over it! I received this e-ARC in a Penguin First-to-Read giveaway program...simply in return for my own fair & honest review.

This book seemed far fetched. The first few chapters took some perseverance to invest in. The focus of the novel is disjointed and seems to have the beginnings of several tales crammed into one. Once I accepted these issues and saw storylines develop, even the far fetched, I became engrossed in those living on and frequenting Lullaby Rd. I would have enjoyed the story more if it focused only on the child left behind and the portions directly related to this prominent figure. The stories of the preacher and duplex tenant seemed to want to come alive in sequels of their own. I hope Anderson will seize the opportunity to flesh these out further, while expanding the questions of despair and hope in the face of loss. Finally, leading to faith in a power greater than all of us. A power that guides us to our purpose everyday, if we intelligently follow the lead.

I feel like I am not the intended audience of this book. The voice just wasn't for me. The story felt choppy. I didn't realize it was a sequel and I think not having read the 1st made this one harder to follow. The story itself was stand alone, but made a lot of reference to the previous book or assumed I knew things which I didn't. That isn't the books fault, more mine for not knowing it was a sequel. It isn't a bad book, just not really for me. It felt like it was written with men as the intended audience.

Further foray into the exploits of Ben Jones and the quirky, eccentric and often dangerous denizens along Route 117. I enjoyed The Never-Open Desert Diner and was excited to read the next novel, and was not disappointed, still gritty, hard and compelling in its depiction of the desert community. Ben is drawn into a situation with a child and dog when asked to take care of an acquaintance's child, and it all goes sideways afterwards. Well worth a read, the characters and descriptions are all interwoven for a satisfying journey.

Lullaby Road follows up on truck driver Ben Jones, introduced in the much-loved Never-Open Desert Diner. As Ben travels across a cold, windy stretch of the Utah high desert he discovers a mute Hispanic child abandoned at a run-down truck stop, guarded by a dog. The child bears a note addressed to Ben, asking him to watch out for the child, whose name, according to the note, is Juan. Ben takes on the child, who turns out to be a girl, along with the dog, setting the stage for a dangerous sojourn across the cold, silent, beautiful but deadly desert landscape.

I received an ARC of this novel via the FirstToRead program Penguin Random House LLC in exchange for an honest review. Ben Jones is a truck driver who makes deliveries to a few remote and eccentric residents along Utah's desolate highways. When he stops to get gas along his regular route he is told that someone has left a package for him on one of the pumps. What Ben finds is a young, mute Hispanic child being guarded by a dog in the snow. The note attached says "PLEASE BEN. MY SON. TAKE HIM TODAY. HIS NAME IS JUAN. TRUST YOU ONLY. TELL NO ONE. PEDRO" Left with few options Ben reluctantly takes the child on his route hoping to figure out what to do by the time he returns that night while avoiding the trouble that he is certain will ensue...nothing will be the same again. This novel, although it is fiction, is a wonderfully written testament to the human condition and strength of the human spirit. With a protagonist that is definitely not a saint yet still manages to demonstrate that there is hope for humanity and a child that still manages to convey the deepest compassion and purity despite innocence lost to pure evil. Many of the characters in this novel are complex with intricate and often tragic histories who are trying to escape the world among the desolate stretches of route 117. I was completely hooked and completely drawn into uncovering the mystery surrounding the child and the individuals they cross along the way. Although this novel explores some dark content I would say that this is a very uplifting and "feel good" novel.

 


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  • The Never-Open Desert Diner

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