Ford Road

Written by Amy Kenyon
Review by Jessica Brockmole

Ford Road stretches across southeastern Michigan, from Detroit almost to Ann Arbor. Growing up at first one end, and then the other, I was eager to read this story of love and family in suburban Detroit.

Unable to describe the pangs of nostalgia gripping her since the death of her mother, Kay Seger leaves her almost bohemian lifestyle in California and returns to Garden City, Michigan, the idyllic sprawl of suburbia outside of Detroit where she grew up. Back in the old neighborhood, she rekindles a romance with her first love, Joe, a Vietnam veteran and longtime Ford autoworker. Like Kay, Joe can’t move forward, longing for the carefree days before he was drafted. They try to reconcile their divergent presents by dealing with the past: Joe by ignoring it, Kay by burying herself in it. With his encouragement, she begins sifting through family history, looking for the ties binding her to Michigan, the invisible wires that yanked her back. Her great-grandfather Jacques, a melancholy out-of-work printer; her grandfather Fred, devoted worker on Henry Ford’s new assembly lines; her grandmother Ada, a young girl with a big family secret. All suffused with the same nostalgia that keeps Joe and Kay from moving forward together.

This is a quiet book, delicately strung between time, exploring love and loss and memory across generations. Kenyon skips in and out of each story, following emotion rather than chronology, building up each character bit by subtle bit. She paints a rich picture of 20th-century Detroit, with notables from Henry Ford to Charlie Bennett. Being from this area and being a researcher of Detroit history myself, I was soon caught up with the same nostalgia afflicting the characters.