Raeford “Junebug” Hurley has had a hard life. At the age of eight, his parents die, and he goes to live with his grandparents on their tiny farm. There he meets Fancy Stroud and her brother Lightning, children of black sharecroppers, and they become fast friends, almost unheard of in 1950’s North Carolina. Tobacco farming is hard, desperate work, and Junebug is grateful for Fancy’s support when things grow even harder, and soon they are more than friends.
A moneymaking scheme gone bad and a visit from the KKK have Junebug and Fancy setting out in search of different dreams. She, a place free from the casual bigotry and hatred that infuse every day in the rural South. He, looking for a place he feels at home, a place where his darkest secrets will be safe. The connection between Junebug and Fancy is strong, but will it be strong enough to withstand war and thousands of miles of distance?
The Last Road Home is a deep, emotional book about friendship and love in the midst of hardship and hatred. This is not an uplifting, breezy novel, but one with unexpected depths that delves into the darkness inside us all. The ending was not what I had hoped for, but it was true to the story. This is well-worth reading.
(Galley provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley.)