I had never planned to read a Nicholas Evans book. I saw the movie of The Horse Whisperer, and while I love all things Redford (I've had a crush on him since The Sting), I thought the story was only so-so. It all felt a little too Lifetime Movie for me. But then, one day at school, I was alone in the teachers' lounge, bored, and there it was, The Divide. Someone had left it on the table, our universal sign for these cookies/chips/magazines/books are fair game. I will admit I was so desperate for something to read I didn't even peruse the dust jacket. For the first chapter I thought it was going to be the story of a man and his son lost in the wilderness after a skiing accident (it's not). 300ish pages later I know what it is about, but I'm still not sure I would plan to read a Nicholas Evans book.
The Divide is the story of a family torn apart by...well, I'm not really sure. The husband being oversexed, or the wife's indifference to sex in general? Mid-life crisis? Thwarted dreams, both his and hers? Whatever it was that brings this couple to the point of divorce, it really does a number on their daughter, Abbie. She falls in with eco-terrrorists, does bad things, ends up on the run, and then ends up dead. I'm not really spoiling anything for you with the above sentence. All of this the author tells you in the first 50 pages or so. He then spends the next eternity...I mean, 200 pages or so-explaining how the above mentioned things happened. After the excitement and drama of the first several chapters, it felt a little like driving behind someone going 10 miles below the speed limit on a two lane road with no passing lane.
Despite this, I persevered, because the story was just engaging enough to keep me hooked. The last 70 pages or so were actually quite good, and if Evans had told the beginning of this family's story at the same pace the novel would have been quite improved (and about 100 pages shorter). The book does offer some interesting commentary on eco-terrorism, and why so many wealthy, privileged young adults reject their upbringing and turn to extremism (think Patty Hearst). The fact that I didn't really like most of the characters probably didn't help. I found the father a little clueless and indulgent, the mother cold and distant, and the daughter spoiled and selfish. The son, who had previously been the "problem" child, was the only one I had much sympathy for in the end. And the character of Ty was just too good to be true-methinks that Mr. Evans, who interestingly enough is actually English, has a little thing for American cowboys! More bromance than Brokeback, but still...Overall, this was an OK read. Not great, and not enough that I will go out of my way to pick up another of Evans' books. Now, if one happens to be left on the table when I'm bored, well, then all bets are off.