The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles is a tour de force of a book. Settle in as a passenger as Towles takes you on quite a multilayered journey with rich settings, cleverly fleshed out characters, and themes of honor, choice, friendship, and family.
It's 1954 and Emmett Watson (18) has returned to Nebraska after a stint at a juvenile work farm. His father has passed, the family farm is foreclosed. Emmett has his little brother, Billy (8) and his Studebaker, plus some cash that his father had hidden. Time to hit the road for California. Emmett's plan is to find an old home, fix it up, and sell it and keep moving up with real estate. Billy's goal is find the mother that left them years ago.
Speaking of hidden, turns out two friends from the work farm, Duchess and Woolly managed to sneak in a ride to Nebraska. The big plan is to go to New York, get Woolly's family fortune, split the money, and then move on. Duchess is the schemer, working the deals, paying back both good and bad. Woolly's a sensitive soul who came from money and has drifted through the world lost, but with a life code. Emmett's got the burden of the world on his shoulders and needs to be the leader and a voice of reason. Little Billy turns out to be a grounding factor for all and at times the most level headed.
The author gives backstories and weaves the past, present, and future together with the Lincoln Highway (a road that starts in Times Square NY and finishes in San Francisco, CA) to provide an incredible tale. I loved this book, the characters; I worried for them; I laughed with them; I feared for them; and I was very sad when I finished The Lincoln Highway. I just wasn't ready to exit the vehicle.