Let's Unpack The Big Mystery In 'Firefly Lane' Season 1

by Ani Bundel

The newest family drama from Netflix is the 10-episode Firefly Lane. The series is Beaches-meets-This Is Us, featuring a lifelong friendship between two women whose lives take very different paths. Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) goes from a rough childhood to daytime TV fame while her BFF, Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke), gets motherhood and a broken marriage. If this story sounds familiar, it's because you might have read it when it came out back in 2008; Netflix's Firefly Lane is based on a book by Kristin Hannah.

Warning: Lights spoilers for Firefly Lane follow. The original novel is one part coming of age story, one part story of women's choices in life. Starting in the 1970s, Kate and Tully meet in eighth grade and become fast friends. But as they reach the 1980s and wind up in college studying journalism, their paths begin to diverge. Tully is a careerist, a go-getter, someone who chooses herself and her ambition at every turn. By the 1990s, she's on her way to becoming a star reporter.

Kate, on the other hand, really just wants to be a wife and mother. She follows Tully into journalism because it's easier than arguing with her headstrong bestie. But by the 1990s, her real happiness is with her husband, Johnny Ryan, and their daughter, Marah.


Fans of the TV series might be a touch surprised by the book's structure compared to the on-screen adaptation. The book is written in a straightforward, linear timeline, beginning in 1974 when 14-year-old Tully moves next door to the staid Mularkey household with her mom; it then recounts the decades as they pass. Meanwhile, the show tells the tale in a more twisted route, taking a page from This Is Us' timeline-hopping book. It juxtaposes the events of 1974, 1986, and 2003 in a collage that illustrates that although Kate and Tully's lives change, the relationship's fundamentals stay the same.

The book will also give away a few spoilers the series doesn't get into in Season 1, so tread carefully, readers. It's currently available in paperback, hardcover, and e-reader format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It's also available in paperback on Bookshop.org, which supports independent bookstores.