Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reservation Road

Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz was originally published in 1998. My hardcover copy has 292 pages. This is a book about a tragedy. It is about families, fathers and sons, grief, guilt, and responsibility. Giving each character their own narrative allows Schwartz to explore the thoughts of these characters. We experience their grief. We feel the marriage unraveling, we see a man haunted by his constant mistakes. Although it is described and marketed to some extent as a crime fiction novel, this is literary fiction. We know what happened and who did it at the beginning of the book. This book was very good, in spite of the few qualms I have with the characters. Rating: 4

Synopsis from cover:
"A riveting novel of feeling and suspense in which grief and punishment become tragically intertwined.

At the close of a beautiful summer day near the quiet Connecticut town where they live, the Learner family - Ethan and Grace, their children Josh and Emma - stop at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Josh Learner, lost in a ten-year-old's private world, is standing at the edge of the road when a car comes racing around the bend. He is hit and instantly killed. The car speeds away.
From this moment forward Reservation Road becomes a harrowing countdown to the confrontation between two very different men.....

In a gripping narrative woven from the voices of Ethan, Dwight (the hit and run driver), and Grace, Reservation Road tells the story of two ordinary families facing an extraordinary crisis - a book that reads like a thriller but opens up a world rich with psychological nuance and emotional wisdom. Reservation Road explores the terrain of grief even as it astonishes with unexpected redemption: powerful and wrenching and impossible to put down."


"I want to tell this right. On a beautiful summer's day we picnicked in a field as an orchestra played under a yellow tent." opening sentences

"I will never forget the final movement. How the voices entered forcefully from the first, resonant yet still earthbound, to be joined by a multitude of others. How the sound grew from inside the yellow tent until it became a god, and the conductor's body seemed to beat to its calling. And, finally, how my son, alone among us all, got to his feet and remained there, standing and silent, long after the music had ended." pg. 5

"The car kept picking up speed. Then we were gone from that clearing, swallowed up by the trees." pg. 21

"I found I was trembling uncontrollably. And I fell again into that crouch, that ungainly squat from which I could place my palms flat on the ground to staedy myself. Anything to touch the world as it had been before. But it would not go back. I kept trambling. Thinking now about my Emma, the waves of grief and fear roloing through her, and no end in sight." pg. 30

"I left my car sitting in the driveway, its busted nose pointing at the road, bright as a neon sign, saying Punish Me." pg. 50

"There are heros, and there are the rest of us. There comes a time when you just let go the ghost of the better person you might have been." pg 60

1 comment:

samantha.1020 said...

This sounds interesting so I'm adding it to the TBR. Nice review!