The Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles Book Summary


More than ONE MILLION copies sold

A TODAY Show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

A New York Times Notable Book, and Chosen by Oprah Daily, Time, NPR, The Washington Post and Barack Obama as a Best Book of the Year

“Wise and wildly entertaining . . . permeated with light, wit, youth.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A classic that we will read for years to come.” —Jenna Bush Hager, Read with Jenna book club
“A real joyride . . . elegantly constructed and compulsively readable.” – NPR

The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett's intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden's car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction—to the City of New York.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles's third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles Book Reviews

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Great book a little slower than a gentleman in Moscow. But beautifully written

Amazing writing.

I really enjoyed the adventures of this group of young men.

This is a book I already plan to read again. Loved it.

I absolutely loved his other two books but this one is a rambling, disjointed, story that was not compelling in the end.

Too many protagonists but what a great writer….

Every person, every story is fun. This book is a great adventure!

This is a masterclass in story telling, with an air of Huckleberry Finn and his adventures, even originating in the bowels of middle American, but stretching the great big city with the hopes of turning back the other way all the way to where sun is high and bridge, majestic.

After Gentlemen in Moscow and Rules of Civility this was a big let down.


A real well written and unique story. Complex and well developed characters make this book hard to put down. I can’t wait for his next book!

Not because this book poorly written; Amor Towles is a talented writer. However some flaming idiot has decided that instead of using opening and closing quotation marks around dialog, as does virtually every other book you’ll ever read, they’ll open dialog with an M-dash, and then not even bother to close it at all. Readers are free to guess for themselves where dialog ends and description resumes. This weird punctuation is so distracting to this reader that it renders the book unreadable — literally. (And yes, that was an example of an M-dash used properly.)

His use of language is beautiful😃

Beautiful character development with activity for each that straddled tension between doubt and faith, wrong and right and the path of forgiveness and redemption. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the author’s ability to bring the internal thinking of the characters to life in full color.

What a creative story! Sometimes slow but very well written.

Towles has a way of making the ordinary spectacular. His characters are precious regardless of their wrongdoings; he restores my faith in humanity while making me chuckle.

A fabulous tale from beginning to end. An interesting twist on every page. Really enjoyable!

Such a vivid journey of leaving youth, maintaining integrity and the trials that inevitably arise. I loved this wonderful book!

Wonderful storytelling with some heartfelt twists that keeps this book moving. Some humorous observations from the eyes of an 8 year old forced into a grownup’s world.

Enjoyable- enthusiastic- smart(pretty smart)- happy-sad-happy-miserable.

Poor plot,slow reading,can’t imagine why it’s on the best seller list

Once again Towles wove an incredible story. A Gentleman In Moscow is my all time favorite but this is not far behind. What an enjoyable read from a master storyteller.


What a waist of time and money.

Brilliant telling of the tale

A story wonderfully told but it left a lot of loose ends.

Such a great book! So we’ll done, a good story, humor and a marvelous reflection on life. Couldn’t put it down

Easy, breezy, twisty, and misty. Draws you into the characters with an easy prose while still surprising you with each plot twist.

Towles gets better with each book. Not only is this Lincoln Highway story engaging, fun and exciting, it’s a very easy read…the words pop off the pages. I wish there was a sequel for the Lincoln Highway.

A great storyteller that weaves people together in the most captivating way. I couldn’t put it down.

Ironic that the characters talk about the glacial pace of The Count of Monte Cristo. This book is flat-out boring and the characters are unbelievable. The meditations of 18-year olds on life’s great truths and the profound dialogue of an 8-year old become grating. I don’t get why people like this book. Gave up on it.

This story was mesmerizing. I couldn’t put it down. The characters and individual stories of each person intertwining with each other wove a spectacular tapestry of the human condition.

Another magnificent albeit more complex tale by the talented Mr. Towles.

I first found Amor Towles when I read A Gentleman In Moscow. I loved his writing. I loved his way with words and expression and flow. I felt as if I were right in the middle of his story, watching from a distance. This book, The Lincoln Highway is now my favorite book of Towles! Such a journey. Again, his way with words is so exceptional and so rewarding to read! I can’t wait for his next book and my next adventure!

Towels does not disappoint. Written beautifully, with his subtle style of humor and excellent character development, “The Lincoln Highway “ is a trip definitely worth taking!

What a fabulous page turner of a book… in a fun, non horrific Steven King type of nostalgic romp with some not so typical young people and an eight year old boy, this story covers a lot of ground. Wonderful read!

The adventures of Emmett, Billy, Duchess, Wooly, and the rest of the characters take twists and turns on many levels … some of them humorous and some profound. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Having read Towle’s other books with great satisfaction (particularly A Gentleman from Moscow), I found this novel to be very different in tone and far less compelling. I found the jumping of narrative from one character to another distracting. Also, the young protagonist’s language, thoughts and actions seemed beyond his years. The boy was either a budding genius or a mystical, unexplained figure that I, being neither, couldn’t quite grasp. But, the author certainly has a way with language that often requires further thought.

Thoroughly enjoyable book for the interesting characters and the Odyssey of a cross country trip in 1953. Towles has a wonderful way of expressing thoughts and ideas that caused me to want to highlight sentences on nearly every page. Am not sure I enjoyed this as much as Towles other two books, but still wouldn’t have missed this journey with an ace storyteller. Highly recommend.

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in the last couple of years. Beautiful writing and fun story.

An amazing book! Going to read his others now.

I loved this book! Such an amazing and entertaining cast of characters whose travels take them to unexpected places in a turning twisting journey. Highly recommended, along with Towles’ other books, which are VERY different - from how book and from each other.

A beautiful, evocative, and perfectly crafted story in which the characters drip with humanity. This book, like A Gentleman in Moscow, is a treasure.

Stick with it, you will be rewarded

Thank you, Mr. Towles. The development of character, the depiction of events and changing morality…absolutely a wonderful enriching read.

I liked this book because placed the characters in realistic tough situations. And I liked the fiction that everything always worked out okay.

I just can’t get into this book and don’t see what the hype is about.

I just wish it didn’t end as it did. I wanted so much more. Maybe there will be a sequel?

What a wonderfully written book. I fell in love with the characters and didn’t want the story to end. I can only hope to have a sequel one day so I can spend more time with Emmet, Sally and Billy. This is hands down the best book I read in 2021.

Adventurous, exciting, beautifully written. One of my favorite books of 2021!

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There is not an equivalent to the Count from Mr Towles last book. However the characters and the story are very compelling and wonderful. Strongly recommend.

Another great book by Mr Towles

Engaging and masterful storytelling. Competes with A Gentleman in Moscow for favourite book read in the last decade.

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Interesting book with an awful and disappointing ending. As though the author just got tired and called it quits to get it over with it

Genius as always.

The Lincoln Highway is one of the best books I’ve read! All the twists and turns kept me wanting to read more! I’ve never read any books by this author, but I’ll definitely read more of his books!

Great storytelling with deep characters and interesting settings. Method of telling the tale was outstanding.

I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. This an awful follow up. I couldn’t care less about the characters. They all seem rather slow witted. And if another book I read has a precocious child in it…I guess Covid had something to do with that.

Fantastic book by one of the greatest writers alive.

The reader is left to figure out which classic and to enjoy the telling in all it's delightfulness. It is said the are really only a few plots with all stories and all literature being variants, retellings. Towels is telling us that by making professor Abernathy's book a main character. Reading this was rewarding and I suspect rereading will be even more rewarding, The characters all come to life for me. In my mind that is the Mark of a well written book. Each character follows the trajectory of their destination. The ending is fulfilling as the characters have followed their personal roads to their destiny. At first I think they don't all live happily ever after but then I realized they do.. Each characters ever after is his or her place in the story, in the tellers mind and the lenders imagination. The characters of the great myths come back to life in each retelling. They are a form living in our imagination waiting to be recalled.

SLOW! Couldn’t get through it. Story could be told in half the length. Do not recommend.

Towles’ erudite and elegant writing style could not save this book. While the narrative seemed promising at the outset, it became repetitive and fragmented by the constant shifts in point of view. The character portraits were good, and their backgrounds somewhat interesting, but the main characters were odd and difficult to relate to; nor did they change or grow. I just couldn’t get into this book. The completely unsatisfying ending was the final deal breaker for me. The ending of the story was a return to the beginning – like the Odyssey that the book continuously references. It left numerous unanswered questions that I won’t mention so as not to be a spoiler. The book was unique, but otherwise not up to the high standards of Towles’ earlier works. I give it three stars. Although this book was disappointing I look forward to Towles’ next endeavor, for he truly is a gifted writer. — dipinto

Amazing character development. So we’ll written. I didn’t want it to end.

This book reminds me of a bad dream. The characters are always trying to get to California but things just keep prolonging their plans. The ending was very disappointing. Jankbar

The Lincoln Highway was long on miles, long on words and short on what had been the eloquence of masterful story telling in his first two wonderful novels.

Much less than I expected. Never vested in the characters, superficial view of NYC, episode upon episode cliffhanger style with no return on your investment of time. Some moving moments but all too rare. At the three quarter point it got boring. Good writing, poor storytelling. I’d say stay away.

Towles’ style is an entertaining ride of a read. Each of his 3 books tells a unique story. Wishing his 4th book was out tomorrow!

The same circumstances, settings and happenings repeated thru the eyes of the 4 main characters over and over. The author is very proud of the learned Greek mythological characters as they are incorporated and used for comparison way too frequently. Funky ending - read it and wept for the money spent.

Took my time with one because I didn’t want to miss a thing. Characters and settings both developed with exquisite care. Wish it came with a study guide. Wonderful book.

Another genuine read overflowing with raw authenticity and pure honesty. Absolutely adored previous 2 novels and Lincoln Highway did not disappoint. Gratefully awaiting the next engaging Amor read with thanks.

Best book I’ve read in a long time!! Love it!

Towles writes humans the way I want them to be. The way I want them to think and feel.

A wonderfully suspenseful “escapade” full of life lessons and lovable characters. Amor Towles delivers again.

These characters take you on a magnificent journey. You will love each of them long before the last page. Where is the middle of your story?

Amor Towles - The Lincoln Highway Comments

About Amor Towles Wiki

Amor Towles (born 1964) is an American novelist. He is best known for his bestselling novels Rules of Civility (2011), A Gentleman in Moscow (2016), and The Lincoln Highway (2021). Early life and education Towles was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College and received an M.A. in English from Stanford University, where he was a Scowcroft Fellow. When Towles was 10 years old, he threw a bottle with a message into the Atlantic Ocean. Several weeks later, he received a letter from Harrison Salisbury, who was then the managing editor of The New York Times. Towles and Salisbury corresponded for many years afterward. Career After graduating from Yale University, Towles was set to teach in China on a two-year fellowship from the Yale China Association. However, this was abruptly canceled due to the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.From 1991–2012, he worked as an investment banker and director of research at Select Equity Group in New York.When Towles w...

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