Firefly Lane (2008) – Kristin Hannah

Title:Firefly Lane
Author:Kristin Hannah
Publisher/s:St Martin’s Press/Pan Books/Pan Macmillan
Date published:St Martin’s Press (2008); Pan Books (2020)
Star Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:Pan Macmillan SA kindly sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“They became to everyone who knew them simply TullyandKate, and for more than thirty years that friendship was the bulkhead of their lives: strong, durable, solid. The music might have changed with the decades, but the promises made on Firefly Lane remained. Best friends forever.”

Tallulah ‘Tully’ Hart and Kate Mularkey have been best friends since they were 14 years old. They met on Firefly Lane, where they spent the first few years of their 30-year friendship always together. Flying down the street on their bicycles at midnight, smoking cigarettes, dancing to ABBA, and talking about how groovy Donny Osmond is. On Firefly Lane Kate and Tully vowed to be friends forever.

Tully Hart’s mother is a free-spirited woman who never wanted a child. Throughout Tully’s childhood, her mother, who called herself ‘Cloud’ would wander into her daughter’s life, only to leave it just as suddenly. Tully’s grandmother was the one who took the little girl in whenever Cloud disappeared, and to Tully, her grandmother was her whole entire world. When she was 14 Cloud took her away again, and moved them to Firefly Lane.

Kate Mularkey has a stereotypical loving family with loving parents and an annoying brother. She also used to have friends. Then one day she suddenly didn’t. She wears large spectacles and buries herself in books, and tries to ignore the other kids at school who constantly tease her – including her old friends. Then one day whilst waiting for the bus to school, Kate sees Tully, the coolest girl she’s ever seen. They don’t become friends immediately, in fact, Kate is pretty much invisible to Tully who is already popular at her new school and has been invited to a high school party by a senior. Tully doesn’t even have a curfew and goes to the party where something happens that will change the way she sees men, sex, and romantic love forever. That same night she shares her secret with Kate, and that night they become best friends.

Kate and Tully go through high school and remain best friends even when Cloud leaves again, and Tully has to move back in with her grandmother and away from Firefly Lane. They write letters and tell each other everything, and when Tully’s grandmother dies, she moves in with the Mularkeys.

It’s the 1980s and the two friends are in college studying to be journalists, and whilst Kate is starting to think she made a mistake and dreams of becoming a writer, Tully is having an affair with her professor. Tully’s ambition and determination soon get her a job at a local TV station, and her biggest dream is to be a TV news anchor, and to have Kate right alongside her, producing her show. Kate, however, has other ideas and falls for war correspondent Johnny Ryan, an ambitious journalist disillusioned with the future of the news. Of course, before she even gets to kiss Johnny, Tully Hart has already had a drunken one-night stand with him.

Years later, when Kate and Johnny are married with kids, she still can’t stop feeling a hint of jealousy and resentment towards her best friend who seems to have everything – the career and the fame, whilst Kate is now a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t written a word in ages and has a tumultuous relationship with her teenage daughter Marah. Marah however, is obsessed with her godmother – the cool aunt Tully.

By the 2000s Tully Hart has her own popular talk show The Girlfriend Hour, and Johnny is her producer. She is wealthy and adored by her fans, and even though her life appears perfect, Tully is miserable and often wonders if she made a mistake, and should have opted for a family like Kate. So close, and yet so far apart, Kate and Tully are both searching for something they believe they don’t have, even if they’re both too afraid to admit it. They fight and make up over and over again, and they always come back to each other, that is until Tully does something that Kate can’t forgive her for.

Hannah’s novel is a story about a friendship that spans four decades and revolves around best friends, soul mates, who despite all the tragedies and changes in their lives, have always had one constant: each other. Tully and Kate’s story races through the ’70s, dances through the ’80s,
starts all over again in the ’90s and settles into the early 2000s, and does so through the eyes of two women struggling through the world of family and careers, and the desire to do both. Sometimes it’s paced a little slowly, but the reader’s inevitable investment in Kate and Tully’s lives will keep the pages turning. A heart-wrenching story that will have you smiling and then weeping, and at the end, quite possibly, doing both.

Laughing, Tully turned to her. These words, these memories had, for a glorious moment, made everything normal. “How could you be friends with me?”
Kate smiled back. “How could I not?”

Firefly Lane is now a popular Netflix show starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke. Season two is set for 2022.

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