December 31, 2019


review: fast lane, by kristen ashley

Rating

It’s been a while since a book has stayed with me long after I put it down. Fast Lane was that book. Which is ironic, because the author, Kristen Ashley, was inspired to write this book after reading Daisy Jones & the Six, a book that stayed with her. She said it was the first time she had prolonged reading a book because she was enjoying it so much. I haven’t read Daisy Jones & the Six, but you better believe it’s on my TBR list for 2020. (Ashley also cites truly listening to the lyrics of the The Eagles song, Life in the Fast Lane, as added inspiration.)

Fast Lane is written in an interview format. The narrator, whose identity is revealed at the end of the book, is interviewing current and former band members of Preacher McCade and the Roadmasters, and those they encounter along the way.

Now, I’m acquainted with my fair share of rock and roll stories—Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll, The Heroine Diaries, the Dirt, VH1’s—Behind the Music (totally dating myself), however this was my first time reading a story told like this.

Preacher McCade and the Roadmasters are a fictional rock band. The members come from humble beginnings and in some cases, abusive homes. The band comes together in what you imagine to be a classic tale of a young band trying to make it on the club circuit. There are groupies, there are fights, and the plot gives way to a true sex, drugs, and rock and roll plot.

However, what’s threaded throughout is the love story between Preacher and Lyla. It is sometimes gripping, sometimes heartwarming, and sometimes flat out tragic. Lyla is a combination of muse, little sister, and mama bear all rolled into one—but primarily, she is the love of Preacher’s life, and vice versa.

Having lost so many of our own iconic music heroes over the years—Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tom Petty, and Glen Frey—gaining insight into how rock stars really live is eye opening. Being on the road, performing, needing to promote your work… First you need something to stay up, then you need something to fall asleep, if you get injured, then you need something for the pain. It’s a never-ending cycle with constant demands to perform. Pair all of that pressure with trying to have a relationship with a sense of normalcy and it may seem virtually impossible.

What Ashley does with Fast Lane is shine a light on a band’s life on the road, their meteoric rise to the top, and how it can take its toll on essentially, everything. She brings to the forefront the emotions that cause band conflicts, the inner demons plaguing the members, and what happens to those who are left behind.

One scene in the book that continues to stay with me is when Lyla tells Preacher that she’s leaving him—after having given up any semblance of her own identity and life on her own. Preacher’s response is to ask how she’s going to do that since she actually has no home or money of her own—she is 100% financially dependent on him. It. Was. Gripping.

If I could, I would make Fast Lane, my first 5-star read of 2020, but I read it in 2019—suffice to say, it is just that good.

Excerpt

I don’t need you to exist. I don’t need you to breathe. I don’t need you to survive. I just needed you to be there.–Lyla

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