78 pages 2 hours read

Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2008

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Summary and Study Guide


Firefly Lane is a 2008 young adult novel by the New York Times best-selling American author Kristin Hannah, who has written more than 20 novels. Firefly Lane begins in 1974 and tells the story of two women whose 30-year friendship becomes the stabilizing force in their lives.

Plot Summary

Firefly Lane tells the story of Kate and Tully, best friends since eighth grade, as they navigate life, love, and friendship. The narrative begins in the summer of 1974, a time of self-examination and reflection in the life of eighth-grade student Kate Mularkey, who has accepted her position on the lower rungs of the social ladder to be her inevitable fate in life. Much to her surprise, Tully (Tallulah) Hart moves into her neighborhood and wants to be her friend. That summer marks the beginning of a relationship that stretches over more than three decades.

Tully moves to Firefly Lane with her mother, Cloud, who has a history of abandoning her. Cloud is an addict, and in their new home, Tully is forced to care for her. While attending a high school party, Tully is raped, and she finds a confidante in Kate Mularkey, the nerdy loner from across the street. The girls are inseparable until Cloud is arrested and Tully returns to live with her grandmother. During their years apart, the girls write to each other faithfully. When Gran dies, Tully turns to Kate and the Mularkeys for solace, moving in with them to finish her senior year.

As Tully and Kate go to college, Kate starts to emerge from Tully’s shadow. Tully focuses on becoming a journalist, taking advanced classes and sending resumes all over. Kate finds that her interests lie less in journalism and more in writing, or, even more, in finding love and settling down. At the end of her senior year, Tully secures an internship at a local television station and gets Kate a job there, too. Their boss is a former war correspondent named Johnny Ryan, with whom Kate instantly falls in love. Worrying that Johnny only has eyes for Tully, Kate keeps her feelings a secret. 

After Tully is shot while live broadcasting a robbery in progress, she starts to move up the journalistic ladder. With Tully out of the office, Kate reveals her feelings to Johnny, and they pursue a relationship. As Tully’s career takes off, Kate marries Johnny, and they have children. Tully and Kate stay connected, but their lives are very different; however, both women find that they want more or need more in some way.

After a chance encounter with an old boyfriend, Tully feels the need to find Cloud and rekindle their relationship. Johnny suggests that Tully film the search and encounter. The footage of Tully’s failed attempt to reconnect with her mother is immensely popular, and it helps her land her own show, which she agrees to do only if it is in Seattle, near Kate and Johnny, and if Johnny is her producer. As Tully becomes more enmeshed in Kate’s life, Kate’s old jealousies about Tully and Johnny are rekindled, and new jealousies are forged because Kate’s daughter, Marah, idolizes Tully. 

With Marah and Kate’s relationship growing increasingly tense, Tully intervenes by inviting Kate to a live show to help repair the rifts between them. The show is not what Kate expected, and she berates Tully on the air. Johnny quits as Tully’s producer, and Tully and Kate’s 30-year friendship is in shambles. During their time apart, Kate and Tully mourn their relationship, but both believe that the other should apologize.

After Kate is diagnosed with breast cancer, she reaches out to Tully; however, Tully is in Antarctica covering a story. While Kate is in the hospital, having endured countless treatments for her illness, she calls Tully again, knowing she doesn’t have much time left. Without hesitation, Tully is by her side. Through the last months of Kate’s life, Tully provides support, love, and understanding. After Kate’s death, Tully recognizes the gift of her friend’s love.