Saturday, December 29, 2007

Firefly Lane

I think that you can judge the quality of a small town upon its gas stations. We live in the third largest town in Oconto County (whoopie! 1365 people), but we do most of our living in the second largest (again whoopie 2800 people). Jesse drove into the largest town, Oconto, yesterday to pick up the kids for the weekend. On the way through town, he got a flat tire. After lying on his back in the slush to retrieve the spare from under the van and switching tires, he had to put air in it. One gas station charged 75 cents, and the other didn't have it at all. We live in Gillett where one gas station charges 50 cents for air, and the other is free. It's air, why do you need to charge your already overpaying customers? In Oconto Falls, air is free at all of the gas stations, and I think it says a lot about the sensibilities of the town. If you pull up to a gas station in a strange town, take a look at the air pump. If they are charging you for it, you're likely to receive stares and uncomfortable glances without so much as a welcome. In towns where it's free, you'll see more smiles and friendly clerks. Test it out for me and let me know if I'm wrong.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah is the story of TullyandKate. Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey become friends in 1974 when they are both 14-year-old girls in Washington State. Their friendship weathers the changes of fashions, careers, children, and miles as they grow up, apart and together. Tully is the daughter of a drug addicted hippie who wanders in and out of her life. Kate is grounded by her strong Irish Catholic family, and each envies the others' lifestyle. Tully provides Kate with a much needed makeover, and Kate gives Tully a family and direction in her life. Tully quickly grabs hold of the dream of being an anchorwoman and depends on it to take her from foster care into a world where everyone loves her. Kate follows along on Tully's coattails for awhile until she falls in love with John, a TV news producer who at first only has eyes for Tully, but soon falls for Kate's sweetness and stability. Tully's career takes off like a rocket while Kate makes time as a stay at home mom, but both have regrets and questions about their chosen careers. Their friendship waxes and wanes through the years, but it's an amazing journey. The pop culture references make it a joy to read as well from Tully's Farrah Fawcett hairdo to the Norville/Pauley spat on the Today Show. The book is a homage to vintage snack foods and fashions; remember TaB? Hannah has a way of writing that makes it difficult to put the book down. Her writing is both lyrical and earthy, capturing moments with almost painful poignancy: But no matter how hard they all tried to be normal, their life was a dirty window that couldn't be wiped clean. Everything, every moment was coated by illness. The story of TullyandKate is one of love and forgiveness and kept me up until 1:30 in the morning until I finished it in tears.

You still have a couple more days to enter my book contest. Just drop an email to and you'll be entered to win a copy of Sharon Jayne's The Power of a Woman's Words plus the study guide! The contest ends at midnight on Monday.


Timothy Fish said...

I don't know if the price of air says anything about quality of service, but while air is free, air compressors and the electricity or gas required to run them are not. The choice to provide air for free is usually for one of a couple of reasons. Service stations usually provide air for free because they use compressed air for their tools and it is more trouble to charge for air than it is worth. Other placess may choose to provide air for free because they hope to impress their customers and get them to return for things like gas and candy bars. Charging for air helps to keep the drive clear for paying customers as well as pay for the air compressor.