The Girl in the Road

Byrne’s debut novel is difficult to contain: in a near future marked by rising sea level, two girls embark on ambitious ventures. Meena leaves from India, bandaged from an assault, to cross a water bridge known as The Trail to Ethiopia. The Trail harvests wave energy; it isn’t meant to be crossed, but its swaying metallic stepping stones invite the desperate and forsaken. Decades earlier, Mariama, only 8 years old, also heads towards Ethiopia, stowing away on a truck leaving from West Africa over the Sahara. The girls’ stories intersect in surprising and haunting ways. The Trail is a mesmerizing vision of the future, and Meena’s travels over it are otherworldly and hallucinatory—at times evoking Tarkovksy’s Solaris. I’ll be reading this book again.