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Ancient Highway

3.1  ·  Rating details ·  143 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In 1927, a fourteen-year-old boy hops a boxcar in a dusty Texas field headed for Hollywood and life in the flickers. His aim is to get as far away as he can from the farm he thinks holds nothing for him. In 1947, a ten-year-old girl dreams of a real home, with a real family, far away from the crowded Los Angeles streets where her handsome father chases an impossible dream ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 383 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Center Point (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I am still pondering this book. I didn't really like any of the characters, and I actively disliked several of them! Also, it was about three generations, so while I learned about their lives in different 'seasons', I still feel like there were gaps in my understanding of what brought them to the final resolution. How did they all get so messed-up? It was really depressing to see how much hurt and confusion resulted from selfish behavior.

I read this right after seeing the movie "Slumdog Million
I found this book on the "librian's choice" at my library. Now that I'm home, have already read about 50 pages, and am reading the goodreads reviews I'm not sure I want to keep reading it. So far, it's unnecessarily wordy. I keep getting slowed down by some awkward lengthy sentences.
Kristen Gehrman
If you flip to the back cover of Bret Lott’s, latest novel you might notice that though the College of Charleston professor and bestselling author has been praised by a variety of book reviewers, the jacket of Ancient Highway boasts no notation from the New York Times. Upon release on July 8, Times book reviewer, Lisa Fugard, wrote, “Brett Lott’s seventh novel, “Ancient Highway,” explores the failed dreams and rifts of the Holmes family… these winning characters often mired in less than winning ...more
Teri Stich
I chose this as part of my library's 2017 Reading Challenge, a book about a road trip. Well, though the title makes you think it is, it isn't a true road trip book. It is more a road trip through the lives of three generations: Grandfather, mother and son though it did crisscross across the county with them. Moved along very slowly, each chapter focusing on one of the three. Their trials and tribulations in life and the difficulties each had with each other. The back and forth through the years ...more
After reading this book, I still don't feel I understand the characters in it. I feel I got a good overview of Earl, Joan and Brad, but I didn't get a sense of what made them tick. I think instead of telling the story in 3 voices, Earl's, Joan's and Brad's, and skipping from the early 20th century to the present, it might have been better to have chosen a character and ran with the story from solely that character's point of view. Earl himself was a goldmine to write about. What the heck happene ...more
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book for the strong voices of each character and for the realistic details of life for would-be actors in 1930s Hollywood versus their lives in present-day Pacoima. The writing was evocative and elegant and in places downright lyrical ("...I also know hope, though it is a kind of scuffed up and scarred hope, a kind of hope that's had an eye gouged out and lost an arm and has only the clothes on its back an no hope for anything other than the hope of itself, because no one out there ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have this method of finding books, walking by the new book section of the library and picking up whatever jumps out at me. After a number of duds I have thought about giving up this method, but then I find a book like this and decide my method isn't so bad.

Ancient Highway goes back and forth between three generations of individuals focusing in on a short period of their lives. Earl the grandfather we get to know as a teen and young adult, his daughter Joan we follow when she is 9, her son Bra
I didn't enjoy this book. I couldn't get past 100 or so pages. The book tells the story of three generations of one family, what their hopes and dreams are and how they get screwed up. The story bounces back and forth between the characters, each in a different period of time. I found that a little confusing, but I could have gotten used to it if it were not for the slow paced and depressing writing. At one point, it took the author two full pages to make a point that wasn't that important anywa ...more
David Clark
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful Brett Lott novel. His character and place descriptions are fantastic. He has described the costs of unfettered desire. Costs that ripple through the lives and psyches of generations and at times seem overwhelming. And yet, in the struggle hope is not completely crushed. Also, in the process of his tale Lott gives us a wonderful look at 1930's Hollywood and a sobering description of Saigon in 1974.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing and bleak, though one can feel the author attempting to be hopeful. It describes the failures of parenthood down through 3 generations and how that begins to be righted. I kept thinking it would redeem itself so I kept reading, but Lott's characters were not likeable and his writing not easy to read. I felt my time was wasted with this one.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the characters and the story, but the writing bogged down everything. There were too many sentences along the lines of "She felt like such-and-such, not like she felt when this happened or that happened, but like..." I don't need to be told what things were NOT like, especially not repeatedly.
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am almost two thirds of the way finished with this book and I am struggling to finish it. It provides the story line by skipping back and forth from character and from various points in time. It's very wordy with lots of discriptions that provide nothing to the story so it moves along very slowly.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
just OK book about depression era TX boy who goes to CA to try to make it big as an actor. Much potential unrealized in the plot although the ending was good. Very irritating style of using the same word multiple times in a sentence for emphasis.
Erica Meats
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book at times because it bounces between characters, stories, and generations. But if you can stick with it and follow it, it is worth the read. Ultimately it is about the dreams we have and the decisions we make because of them. And the results of those decisions.
Monica Copeland
The premise, the three wandering lives in three generations, is interesting, and the voices of the characters are consistent. It falls short of delivering all the details to which it feel a little disappointed at the end.
Lex Poot
Jan 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I found this book in the ramsj I should have been warned. Alas I bought it and when I started to read the book I immediately regretted it. Too many repetitions of the story line. Page after page of building up to a climax that never comes. Then the ending is worthy of a pulp fiction novel.
One of those books given to me by a friend, that I just wasn't able to engage with at all, I finally just gave up reading it, and felt guilty until I found out that the friend, and everyone else she'd given the book to, couldn't relate to it either.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bret really digs deep into family's and family dynamics (particularly the struggles), gracefully steering clear of stereotypes, perfecting the real life language, and presenting his characters and their situations with intention and focus. His style defines good writing.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
I am really striking out this summer. I read over 100 pages of this and no plot was at all evident. The characters were boring and repetitive.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. I love Lott's writing style, and the story is poignant.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book but the characters were sometimes smothered by the words. Each of the characters seemed round, but spare, and I think their story might have been told better with fewer words.
Michael Plewniak
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not a good as other Bret Lott books.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wonderful portrayal of our longing for family. Lott's characters are very real, dysfunctional people, but unlike most Oprah picks, there's an element of hope in Lott's writing.
seeing as brett lott ripped my heart out with "jewel", i can only imagine what this book will be like. i can't wait to find out.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked the back and forth between the 3 characters. Love the depicition of life in California in the 30's/40's.
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it was just ok which surprised me because i thought jewel was a great book, this one is not long but seemed long. just took him a little too long to say everything
Aug 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Although it took me a few chapters to get interested in this book, it turned out to be very good. I liked how the story intertwined between the main character, his daughter, and his grandson.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unique style of writing. Wasn't sure of the book when started reading it, but it was worth finishing. A quiet story; no big "AHA!" moments. Enjoyed it!
Aug 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I gave it a couple of chapters, but it just didn't hold my attention.
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Bret Lott is the bestselling author of fourteen books, most recently the nonfiction collection Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (Crossway 2013) and the novel Dead Low Tide (Random House 2012). Other books include the story collection The Difference Between Women and Men, the nonfiction book Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life, and the novels Jewe ...more
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