Book review: Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne

28 Jul

redemption roadThe crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she’s spent her life remembering little – her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?

Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne kept me hooked from its explosive opening chapter right to the end. This is the story of Margaret Holloway who is rescued by a stranger from her car following a motor way pile up. As you would imagine, her near death experience has a profound affect on Margaret and she is keen to know more about the mysterious scarred man who saved her life. But the crash also throws up frightening and confusing memories and feelings for Margaret forcing her to confront her past and childhood events that had been blocked from memory.

I thought Margaret’s reaction to the crash was realistically written and my sympathies for her grew stronger as I learned more about her job as a teacher, her role in helping struggling students and her relationships with her husband and children. Ballantyne paints a picture of a strong, capable and successful woman and I found it fascinating, emotional and sometimes painful to read as Margaret tried to come to terms with what has happened to her.

The novel is mainly narrated from three key perspectives and moves easily between the past and the present to tell Margaret’s story. In addition to Margaret we hear from Angus Campbell, Big George and Kathleen Henderson and I enjoyed the perspectives that the different characters bought to the sotry. This isn’t a novel of big shocking reveals but it subtly builds and as a reader I enjoyed the way that Ballantyne delved into the character of her narrators and kept me guessing about what would happen next. Angus has the honour of being one of the least likeable characters I’ve encountered in a while – he really did make my skin crawl! My feelings for Big George were completely mixed and Ballantyne skilfully takes the reader on a journey of discovery with George as he finds himself in an increasingly complicated and hopeless situation.

George’s relationship with his daughter is heartbreaking yet beautiful to read and I thought Ballantyne made the point well that what the outside world sees or can be led to see by the press is often very different to the situation as it really is. This would make a great novel for discussion with a book group as I imagine opinion could be quite divided on the events of the story and their consequences.

The book features some excellent ‘extras’ including an interview with Lisa and an extract from her previous novel. The theme of redemption is strong throughout the book and I thought the ending particularly poignant and well done. Ballantyne writes about difficult issues with sensitivity and emotion whilst keeping the reader engrossed with a well paced story. I enjoyed this family drama and the different perspectives given and I’m now keen to read Lisa’s debut, The Guilty One.


Redemption Road is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Lisa and her writing at:

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