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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,343 ratings  ·  348 reviews
An engrossing, epic American drama told from four distinct perspectives, spanning the first major wave of Irish immigration to New York through the end of the Civil War.
Four unique voices; two parallel love stories; one sweeping novel rich in the history of nineteenth-century America. This remarkable debut draws from the great themes of literature—famine, war, love, and
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,343 ratings  ·  348 reviews

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As the Preface begins, it is September 5th, the year is 1853, and Mary, a ten year-old girl in Raleigh, North Carolina, is lying on her bed, watching Gertie doing her stitching. The only light is from the fire, and she’s full of questions about what she’s stitching, how she knows what it’s going to end up looking like from all those itty-bitty strands of threads and scraps of fabric the Misses gives her. How does she know what she’s doing?

”You cain’t tell nothin ‘bout whachu seein when you layin
Angela M
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've come across a number of reviews and book discussions that reflect the point of view that anything less than a tragically sad ending to a story somehow diminishes its importance in the literary arena. I don't agree. While I wouldn't say that the ending of this novel is necessarily a happy one, it is definitely a perfectly beautiful conclusion to a book filled with many moments of anguish, sadness, and injustice. The story is about the despicable treatment of slaves, the starvation of The Hu ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
A wonderful first novel by Peter Troy.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Civil War, May The Road Rise Up To Meet You is a story of four unforgettable characters who have parallel lives, all are setting out on a journey in life and along the way intersect with each other lives.

The plot for this novel is so well written and unlike other immigrant stories I have read it is not stereotyped or over written which I really appreciated. The characters are believable and richly drawn. I especially
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know I know....
It sounds like a cliche.... but indeed this book will stay unforgotten and deep buried in my heart.... and that for a long, long time !!!!!

Characters so vividly depicted that you cannot but care about them;
A story grippingly told and saturated with honesty and truthfulness;
As background the American civil war full of fascination and sufferings with his legendary battles and charismatics leaders;

A wonderful narrated novel, beautifully shaped with awesome prose full of evocative c
Diane S ☔
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Four different people coming from four different backgrounds. Mary and Micah are both slaves, Ethan left Ireland after the potato famine and journeys to New York and Marcella who become a fierce abolitionist.
All face adversity in varying degrees and yet eventually all four come together. This is a wonderful historical novel, with interesting characters. Ethan had me when leaving Ireland he tried to take with him the few books he and his sister (she dies before he leaves Ireland) had, that they h
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction of the lives of four main characters before, during and after the Civil War in America. Ethan McOwen's story begins as a child in Ireland during the famine and he immigrates to America to join his "Da" and older brother, Seanny, in NYC. Marcella Arroyo is a NYC high society girl following her families immigration from Spain. Micah and Mary are slaves in Virginia. How their circumstances change and how the war affects each one brings a final intersection in their paths.

What I
Jim B
This novel (currently only in audio book form) has several creative twists going for it. First of all, there are four main characters whose lives start out as different as can be, and eventually the story comes together in one narrative. Secondly, the audio book format the four main men and women (Ethan, Micah, Marcella and Mary) each have their own narrator, and some of these narrators bring their characters to life (see review of the narrators below). Then there is the format of the book. The ...more
Stephanie Anze
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ethan is a child when the famine in Ireland forces his family to flee. However, he must make the trip alone to join his father and brother already in New York, as there is only enough fare for one. Marcella lives with her abuela (grandmother) in Spain when the letter that she has dreaded finally arrives, the one in which her father asks her to join him and the family in America. Micah and Mary, both slaves, live on separate plantations until both are taken away from their families and sold off. ...more
I loved this book - the characters were each so different and so compelling. I admit that it took me a while to get used to the sounds of the Southern and Irish voices but once I got over the first few pages and could focus on what Troy's characters were saying, I carried the book with me everywhere.

On the one hand, you might expect the book to be depressingly heavy since the lead characters go through so much - from the Great Famine in Ireland to slavery in the American South to the American Ci
Argh. Everybody else seems to love this but I just didn't and I can't even seem to sum up why. For starters, it took me awhile to really dig in and enjoy. In part I needed to pick up the rhythm of the various accents (which I find distracting until I really get into the swing of things) and partially because it takes quite awhile for the stories to begin to come together. So I had to accept and wrap my mind around the way each character thinks and speaks and I was a little impatient to get on wi ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately I've read several books that have the format of telling the story of different characters, alternating between them. Is this a trend, or have I just randomly selected such books. Peter Troy uses this format in his debut novel. Troy tells the story of four quite disparate people. First we meet Ethan McOwen, who with the help of his family escapes the Irish famine to join his father and brother in New York. Life in New York is not easy for the Irish in the nineteen century. But we learn of ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recent-reads
This book found me through my local library's list of recommendations. I am so glad I picked it up.

The story involves four characters on all the cusp of change as America is transforming itself during the Civil War.

Ethan is a recent arrival from Ireland; Marcella is a transplant from Spain; Micah is a slave that is sold to a man in Virginia separated from his family; and Mary is bought as a young girl an a slave auction when a wealthy white girl wants her for a "sister."

These characters each h
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are multiple books on Goodreads that I can't figure out why they don't have more reception. This is one of those books. Although it hasn't been released yet, I would expect to see it on more TBR lists. I enjoyed the book due to its' setting, but also the character development. These were truly characters I could sink me teeth into and get to know. One word of this book first started out I couldn't figure out where or for what purpose it was heading. Even half the way through t ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
What appealed to me at first was the title of this book as it is one of my favorite Irish blessings. Being of Irish descent I wanted to learn more of the young boy who survived the Irish famine and made his way to America at a time of critical unrest in our country. What a bold and unique novel that intertwines the stories of four characters during the days of America's Civil War. We forget how tumultuous those times were and how brave people needed to be in order for us to have the country and ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
It's hard to know where to begin. This book is so filled with characters you root for, it's like you've spent all those years with them on their journey, sharing their hopes, their dreams, their worries. On a purely technical aspect, I found that I enjoyed the informal writing style, the general lack of quotation marks that indicate talking. It somehow made it feel more...real. Even though the characters are not real, it brings to life and gives a face (faces), to part of American history that u ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful says it all for me too.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to begin with this book as it was truly a gem. Mr. Troy has crafted really three love stories in this novel; that of the two main couples and a third for what we all long for, home. Ethan leaves Ireland during "The Hunger" after losing his beloved sister and comes to America to live with his father and brother. Mary, a slave is first horribly treated and then uplifted but still enslaved. Marcella, a woman of means and family breaks from her family as soon as she can because sh ...more
I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. I stumbled a bit to get through the prologue but from then on it was smooth sailing. Four people come into play, Mica, a slave sold away, Mary, a slave also sold away, Ethan, fleeing Ireland from the great hunger, Marcella brought from Spain with her family.
Each character comes with his own set of problems and feelings brought about by all they have been through. somehow Micah and Mary find each other while Ethan and Marcella also find each other.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love reading about the Civil War... especially with the hope of freedom and the promise of America as the underlying theme. The Irish and Southern dialects in this book may be a little difficult to get used to but, I think, they lend so much to the characters! I learned about Irish immigrants and their role in some of the notable battles of the Civil War. I also enjoyed the different slavery situations portrayed in the book. Not all white masters were cruel to their slaves and, in some cases, ...more
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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Notes: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book. Some of the quotes may differ from the final version. Assume errors are mine.

Famine...Slavery...A country on the cusp of change.....
Four remarkable individuals
Two couples
One War that will change everything

"How you know whachu doin Gertie?" you ask.

"Been at dis fo' alooong time" she says, an starts hummin.

"Naw," you say, "I you know whachu stitchin when it d
Amanda - Cover2CoverMom
Feelings in a few thoughts:
- This book is about 4 hours too long – because of the length & slower moving plot, this book took me a month to read.
- The convergence of the 2 love stories didn’t really work for me. There wasn’t a significant enough connection between Ethan/Marcella and Micah/Mary. They all just kind of met up at the end, which felt a little forced.
- This book needed to be separated into two books: Ethan & Marcella’s story, and Micah & Mary’s story. I enjoyed both storie
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this epic novel. I will look forward to this author’s next novel. Highly recommend.
Deb Wilson
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. Can't understand anything lower than a five star rating. Famine in Ireland, slavery in the South, Civil War. So very well written. Could NOT put it down.
Hollen Wheeler
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very good period piece circa Civil War America.
Avid Series Reader
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers who enjoy slowly developing characters set against extensive historical details
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy is a sweeping dramatic saga of loss and redemption against the backdrop of the American Civil War. The story is told by four primary characters: Mary, Ethan, Micah, Marcella. Mary and Micah are slaves in the South; Ethan and Marcella are immigrants from Ireland and Spain.

The first half of the book slowly and painstakingly describes each character's life and hardships in detail, and also sets the background leading to civil war. The second half of th
Vivian Lowel
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Troy opens his novel with an evocative image: a child, watching a woman embroidering cloth, only sees the tangle of threads from the underside. It is not until she can see the threads stitched into a design--frontways--that the pattern becomes clear. The lives of the novel's four main characters start in very different places (Ireland during the Hunger, Spain, New York, and the American South), and Troy does not rush the characters' encounters. Each character is fully drawn in his/her own ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race
This book was better than average, but it really wasn’t anything spectacular. Ultimately it was just two parallel love stories set in the historical context of the Civil War. Not really fabulous on any level, but page turning and interesting enough.

The four main characters all had strong voices, but were still fairly similar to each other (independent women and men who respect them). I enjoyed the brogue and the southern accent and there were definitely a few funny scenes. Given the time of year
Doubleday  Books
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Hunger—the Irish famine—forces Ethan McOwen across the Atlantic, where his life eventually gets caught up in the American Civil War.

Even before the harshness of The Hunger the McOwens experience tragedy, most notably for Ethan the loss of his beloved sister, Aislinn. They had both been bookish and imaginative children, and Ethan’s later drive to learn earned him the nickname “The Professor.” The McOwens—Ethan, Da, Mam and Aunt Em—reassemble in Red Hook, N.Y., to start their new lives. Meanwh
Peter Troy manages to link the three defining man-made disasters of the 19th century: the Irish potato famine, slavery and the American Civil War into an intricate weave of powerful narrative set pieces. Ethan McOwen crosses the Atlantic to escape the famine and survives the hell of Five Points. Troy introduces a slave family with a parallel to the McOwens; the son, Micah, is sold to a new owner in Virginia, where he meets Mary, an educated house slave. Ethan eventually becomes an assistant to M ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-read
I really loved this book and especially fell in love with Ethan and Micah. What beautifully written characters! I was brought to tears by them several times. I appreciated the different voices and perspectives, and felt completely immersed in the period and the two love stories. It must be amazing to be taught history by this author, as he made it all so interesting and real. Another plus for me was that we've been to many of the locales in the book: Ireland and also DC, Fredericksburg, Richmond ...more
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Peter Troy is a former journalist and high school history teacher. He lives in New York State, where he is at work on his next novel.
“seeking completeness when we can only ever make each other better, more joyful, more grateful—but never complete.” 1 likes
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