Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Breakdown Lane” as Want to Read:
The Breakdown Lane
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Breakdown Lane

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,782 Ratings  ·  261 Reviews
Where can a woman turn when her own life threatens to overwhelm her ability to keep her children safe? New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard takes the readers of her newest novel on a wry and moving journey of loss and healing.

Giving advice is what Julieanne does for a living -- every Sunday she doles it out to clueless people she doesn't know, in a column i
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published April 5th 2005 by HarperTorch (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Breakdown Lane, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Breakdown Lane

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 23, 2007 Stephanie rated it liked it
I just started listening to this one for my commute. So far I am drawn in and intrigued by the main character's children more than by her or her cheating husband Leo.

Since I am listening to this book, I won't be able to critique the writing style...but I will be forced to pay attention to the details of the story.

I am at the end of disk two and honestly, I am not really that in to the book. Normally, even novels that I would have difficulty reading, I listen to with great attention and enthusias
Nov 17, 2013 Christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good read, and it probably would have gotten 5 stars if the ending wasn't so out of left field.

The book is told through the journals of Julieanne and her son, Gabe, a teenager who has problems with school-learning but has a gift of writing. When we meet Julieanne, she has quite the enviable life--a posh pedigree, a handsome, high-earning husband, loving in-laws, and two great kids, plus another one on the way. But then her husband Leo, tells her he needs to go on a hiatus to "fin
Jan 08, 2009 Joanieinnc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the story was captivating. It was so realistic that you wanted to know how JulieAnne would come to terms with her illness (MS) and her husband Leo who walked out on her. You just wanted to shake Leo for being so insensitive by disrupting the family unity to embark on his idealistic and unbelievable trek into a commune lifestyle. It was pure escapism from responsibility!

The stress JulieAnne endured acerbated the MS symptoms. Not only does she have to deal with the grief of a husband le
Jul 07, 2013 Nicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mostly liked this. It does lose it right at the end with the appearance of Matt. Just way too convenient.
Before that, was a very good book similar to a Jodi Picoult.
I have to admit, I could kind of understand why Leo left. He had been trying to tell Julianne how unhappy he was with his lifestyle and over working, so she pulls an "oops, pregnant " on him to make him stay. I could never have too much sympathy for a woman who intentionally does that.
However, what happened to Julianne with the
Apr 07, 2009 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a person angry at any man in your life, this might not be the right time to read this book because my overriding sense was that I was so infuritated with the husband/father character I wanted to strangle him.

The Breakdown Lane, in my opinion, is a story of a 15-year old boy who has to grow up quickly to care for his quickly deterioriating family. I felt every emotion imaginable for this young man, Gabe. I wanted to reach through the pages of the story and give him a hug. His normal te
Jan 16, 2015 Roos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gifts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Wardrip
I actually picked up this book on the recommendation of--don't laugh!--Stephen King. As one of the ten books he recommended for late summer reads in an issue of Entertainment Weekly Magazine, the premise hooked me.

The book centers around a woman who not only loses her husband to a wacky desire to live a simpler and more-fulfilling life, but has to single-handedly raise two teenagers and a young daughter by herself, all while dealing with her diagnosis of MS.

THE BREAKDOWN LANE is women's fictio
Aug 12, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Jacquelyn Mitchard's other books. And "Breakdown Lane" starts out wonderfully, as Mitchard sets up the family of characters, weaving little bits of information and vital images together. It's the plot that disappoints here. It's not so much the flood of terrible and challenging things that happens to Julieanne--her illness, her feckless, faithless husband, her colorful children and the lengths they go to, to get their father to return. It's the miracle rescue that set my teeth o ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In my (continued) pursuit of trying to read more “women’s fiction” I decided to give this book a shot, based on some positive reviews from respected authors. About a third of the way into the 464 page novel, I really wanted to stop, but forced myself to soldier through. While Mitchard is clearly a skilled writer, I’m coming to the conclusion that, try as I might, I just don’t like this genre. The reoccurring themes of petulant wives and wish fulfillment in the form of the rich, handsome, age app ...more
Melinda Elizabeth
a story from two sides of some terrible tragedies that unfortunately coexist. Julie has MS, and her marriage is falling apart. Alas, she doesn't realise either of these things until its far too late.

I struggled with the idea of Gabe writing a journal, from his mothers perspective, whilst some sort of savant, I didn't get the impression that he was able to write such verbose monologues. However the tale of his search for his father was one of the stronger chapters in the book, so I do have to sa
Sep 01, 2015 Frosty61 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book is much longer than it needs to be and the fairy tale ending is disappointing. While it's interesting and beneficial for the reader to learn how the characters are feeling, the internal dialogues in this story were redundant and too long. That said, I like Mitchard's writing style when she helps you get to know the characters through their interactions and thoughts. There was simply too much of it in this book. The sudden switch between points of view were annoying and sometimes confusi ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Another case where I am not sure if my negative feelings are about the book or how it's read.

The author reads the book. She writes about a family in Wisconsin, and she lives in Wisconsin. Her voice has an unmistakeable upper midwest accent. Every character has this accent, regardless of where they live. I had trouble at times getting past it.

Julieanne is proud of her body, her ability to dance ballet, her flexi
Sep 12, 2009 Ceevee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Mitchard's writing style and some of the character development much of the way thru the book, but as far as I am concerned it fell apart with the unrealistic arrival of her Prince Charming. I couldn't finish it. For once I would like to see women going thru tough times prevail on their own. Authors, give me material showing that women dumped and sick as well have the courage to enjoy life without the rescuing super-men. A surgeon yet.
Jun 15, 2015 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the book but I mostly listened to the audio while I walked and because I was listening to it, I think I enjoyed it a little more than I would have if I was reading it. Some books just appeal to me more when listening than they would if I was reading.
I really liked Gabe (son) the best and admired Julie for being able to work her way through all the troubles (Cathy was a very good friend and Julie probably would not have been able to handle it all as well without her). Liked getting the inf
Feb 05, 2008 Lindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-read
A hard read from the standpoint that this mother of three is experiencing MS symptoms as her husband is leaving her for a younger woman. I learned a lot about MS, but the author gives the reader a bit of an unrealistic ending. However, overall, this was a good read.
It's not that the writing was lyrical or musical but the characters were so raw and the truths in the book so real. I intitally rated it 4 stars rather than 3 but downgraded it due to a slightly over the top ending.
Aug 14, 2015 Lester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a family who go from living in perfection to braking down completely. The first person narrative is first told by the mother, who is oblivious of the fact that her husband is about to desert her, that she has a disease which will change her life, and that her elder children are about to be tested in ways which no children should. The narrative is then enhanced with that of her elder son. It took me a while to get into the book, but then it turned into a rather compelling sto ...more
Apr 15, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: the year of pleasures

I thought the story was captivating. It was so realistic that you wanted to know how JulieAnne would come to terms with her illness (MS) and her husband Leo who walked out on her. You just wanted to shake Leo for being so insensitive by disrupting the family unity to embark on his idealistic and unbelievable trek
Robin Moore
Dec 16, 2015 Robin Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has all the makings of "chick lit". The main character's (Julieanne) marriage breaks down. Her husband (Leo) takes off, leaving his wife & 3 children, and is incommunicado for about 6 months, after having told all that he'd be in contact. During this time Julieanne is diagnosed with a severe illness, and so her 2 oldest children (Gabe & Caroline) go off in search of their father, without revealing their intentions to anyone. When they eventually find their father, which wasn't easy ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was entertaining enough - a little too tidy of a wrap up for some of the issues that were covered. Overall fairly good though.
Apr 15, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, up until the end, which was just a bit too pat. The structure of the narrative is superb, however.
On the surface Julianne and Leo Steiner have a perfect life and a happy family. Leo is an up-and-coming business lawyer for the local college and Julianne, ex-ballerina, has taken a job at a newspaper as the advice columnist. The have three beautiful children: Gabe, a 15-year-old with learning disabilites but exremely intelligent; Caroline, a 14 year-old 'good girl' who hopes to be a famous dancer someday; 2 year-old Aury, the unexpected baby. Minute cracks begin to show in the marriage as Leo b ...more
Miss Framboesa
Gostei de ler este livro, de entrar no mais íntimo desta família.Gostei do modo como todo o drama ía sendo interrompido por excertos da coluna que Julienne escrevia numa revista, na ironia dela dar conselhos quando a sua vida estava caótica e fora de controlo e do fato de podermos ver a perspetiva de mãe e filho enquanto se desenrolava toda a ação.

Senti que o desfecho foi desnecessário, acabou por estragar bastante a coerencia do livro.Depois de tanta frieza e de um modo tão cru de mostr
Aug 11, 2008 Carrol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed "Breakdown Lane". Jacquelyn Mitchard is a local author. I first read her columns in the local papers many years ago and then have read several of her novels. She hit the national spotlight as Oprah's first bookclub choice with her first novel, "Deep End of the Ocean". Over time, some of her books have been very good and some only so-so. I thought this one was one of her best. Her main character, Julieanne, is left with 3 children when her middle age lawyer husband decides he ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-words-wine
1) I disliked virtually all of the characters. Only the paternal mother-in-law and father-in-law were very decent. Gabe junior was also a nice lad. The other characters were hideous (in my humble opinion!) The main character was a self-indulgent creature before the disease struck. (As an aside, I know MS sufferers and I know what a dreadful condition it is.)
2) Just disliking the characters is not a reason for giving only 2 stars. However, I didn't enjoy the writing style either. I found it very
Jan 05, 2012 Daniela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever picked up a book and from the onset it gave you that bitter taste of the first sip of morning coffee? Well,The Breakdown Lane is one of them...until you take the second sip getting used to the flavour and just shortly thereafter the jolt of caffein is going into your blood stream and buzzes on...
It is a book about myriad tribulations in one woman's life, Julieanne, who is simultaniously left by her husband and being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as well as dealing with two teen
Jan 24, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so slow at the beginning that I almost gave up. It was worth sticking with it though as once the story took off I found myself reading until 3 am!
I found Leo to be a total selfish moron. I just couldn't understand how someone could leave their wife and 3 children to go start another life. What makes it so ruthless is that he left saying he was just taking a 6 mo sabbatical (from his family) but would be accessible. Not until he left did his family find out he didn't want to be con
Dana Schroeder
Jan 20, 2013 Dana Schroeder rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Julieanne seems to have it all....a loving husband whose job as a lawyer allows for them to live comfortably, three beautiful children, a part-tine job writing an advice column, a supportive best friend and great in-laws. So she is shocked when she comes to the realization that her husband, Leo has left their family to raise another on a commune with his new love, Joyous.

At the beginning of the novel, I wasn't at all impressed with the storyline. I'm not sure if this is due to Mitchard's writing
Marika Gillis
Nov 15, 2010 Marika Gillis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"...I would take out his letters to me, our honeymoon scrapbook, and stare into the faces of those smug, slim, utterly sensual young people and think, Where was the clue? ... His pinch of arrogance? His touch of impatience? I was a dozen times more arrogant and impatient any day of the week, even back then. But I never, not ever, would have slipped through my wedding band and fled." p297

Julie's husband, Leo, unexpectedly leaves her alone and reeling, trying simultaneously to care for their three
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The World Below
  • Never Change
  • Hoopi Shoopi Donna
  • Disobedience
  • The Law of Similars
  • Eden Close
  • Family History
  • Everything Must Go
  • Everything She Thought She Wanted
  • Happiness Sold Separately
  • Cranberry Queen
  • Breaking Her Fall
  • Confinement
  • Her
  • The Grave of God's Daughter: A Novel
  • Fall Down, Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody
  • Daughter's Keeper
  • Blue Water
Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years – second only to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (but second by a long shot, it must be said.)

The Deep End of the Ocean was chosen as the first novel in the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey, and transformed into a feature film p
More about Jacquelyn Mitchard...

Share This Book

“There's a strange sensation - you recall it from childhood - about sleeping in the afternoon. You rise into a different world from the one in which you lay down. The shadows have been rearranged. There's a sensation of sad sweetness, as if something has been overlooked. I used to feel it coming out of the movies just before dinnertime, after the matinee. How, I wondered, did Broadway actors face it, this bittersweet sense of time's slipping past.” 23 likes
“Don't ever let anyone tell you that knowing how you should be reacting to a loss has anything to do with how you react when it's your loss.” 1 likes
More quotes…