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Reservation Road

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  1,838 ratings  ·  285 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"A dark and irresistible miracle: a heartbreaking thriller."--Los Angeles Times

"Haunting. . . . A powerful and affecting novel."--The New York Times

A tragic accident sets in motion a cycle of violence and retribution in John Burnham Schwartz's riveting novel Reservation Road. Two haunted men and their families are engulfed by the em
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 5th 1999 by Vintage (first published August 18th 1998)
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It's hard to say you "really liked" a book about the death of a 10-yr-old boy from a hit and run. The book is narrated from 3 perspectives on the events of that night - Josh's father Ethan, Josh's mother Grace and Dwight the guy who hit Josh and kept on driving. Why? What will happen to each of them as time passes without a clue? How far will Ethan get when he decides to do some investigating of his own?
This is not an easy read, but a very good one. The ending left me speechless.
This would be
Jan 13, 2008 Melissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have lost a loved one
I read some of the reviews of this book and was a little surprised by a few. I think this content is for people who have actually expereinced loss. I don't mean a grandparent who has lived out their days, but someone in their immediate family. Otherwise I think it would be hard to understand the characters reactions. If you have watched and experienced what death does to a family you can relate to this novel.

I am about half way through and I can not put it down. This is an excellent novel so far
Jan 17, 2010 K rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K by: Mintzis
At the beginning of this book, ten-year-old Josh is killed in a hit-and-run accident. The subsequent events are narrated by three characters -- Josh's two parents (Ethan and Grace) and the hit-and-run driver, Dwight.

Grace sinks into a deep depression that distances her from her husband and surviving daughter; Ethan copes with his loss by nurturing a thirst for revenge on the anonymous driver and being belligerent to the police officers who simply aren't doing enough to find this driver. Dwight,
While this was readable enough, what I found it to be most primarily was a novel that tried to be two things - murder mystery and thoughtful, poignant story - and ended up being neither.
In a most depressing premise, a father driving with his ten year old son hits another man's ten year old son, then is scared and zooms off. At this point, as anyone could predict, the dead son's mother loses it, their marriage suffers, all predictably packaged in short snippets that were like movie scenes trying
Will Byrnes
Parallels abound. Ethan is the bereft father, Josh, his lost son. Dwight is the damaged driver, Sam his child, damaged by dad in a different way. How each copes with the aftermath is the core of the tale here. Dwight runs over a young boy, then flees the scene, fearful of the impact the accident might have on his already tentative custody of his son. The wives are also portrayed, measured one against the other. The overall effect is of extreme sadness. It is a remarkably fast-reading book. I fel ...more
Driving his son Sam home to the son's mother too fast, divorced lawyer Dwight Arno runs down 10-year-old Josh, son of Literature professor Ethan Learner and Ethan's landscaper wife Grace. Dwight keeps going, pretending to Sam that it was a dog he hit in the gloom. We follow the consequences over the next few months, either through Dwight's eyes or Ethan's (both in first person) or through Grace's (in third person). It soon becomes clear to us and to Dwight that the two families are far more clos ...more
If ever there were two people in the world who needed either counseling or a good chest-beating, accusation-laden, finger-wagging, knock-down, curse-ridden fight, it's Ethan and Grace. I get that what they went through was the worst thing you can experience as a parent, but they were so content to let that consume them, and that made this story hard to read.

Beyond that, Dwight is just an ass. There is no black or white here. He's self-absorbed, angry, obnoxious and violent, and he's in the wrong
Webster Library
I picked this book because I thought it was something completely different. I thought it was the book they made the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio about, Revolutionary Road. It was a silly mistake and after a little bit of confusion I continued on. There was a major problem with the book, dealing with the timing of the novel. Schwartz tells this story in the voices of three characters: Ethan, Dwight and Grace. They each tell their side of a story, their emotional baggage after a horrible accident. ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I did a quick re-read of this book in anticipation of the sequel, Northwest Corner. My memory of my overall impressions of the story holds up in the second reading. Some great strengths and a couple of weaker aspects that do diminish the power of the book as a whole. If I focus on the things Schwartz got right, it's a four-star book. If I focus on the things he did wrong, it's three stars. I'm going with the higher rating because I do think the book is worth reading, especially if you're interes ...more
Robin Glasser
I read Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz for my book club. There are so many 'road' movies: Revolutionary Road, The Road to Perdition, etc. and as I got further into the book, I realized I'd seen the film, which was good, btw...Mark Ruffalo played the tortured lawyer (oxymoron?). The Learner family, Ethan and Grace and their children, Emma and Josh, stop at a gas station on their way home. Their son is standing by the road when a car comes racing along the bend. Josh is hit and killed in ...more
I find it hard to put into words how I feel about this book. It is without a doubt one of the most moving portrayals of grief and love that I have ever read.

Imagine seeing your precious, irreplacable young son mowed down in front of you. Now imagine being the driver that did it. In our wildest musings we could not even come close to the guilt and sorrow this would throw down on our lives and everyone we meet from that second forward. This novel, written in the narratives of Ethan and Grace, who
Why I wanted to read this one: Last year I read Northwest Corner by Schwartz, which is the sequel to Reservation Road, for a TLC Book Tour. I fell in love with this author's writing and the story hit me hard on many levels. I knew that at some point I had to read about the devastating event that caused these two families lives to spin out-of-control.

Source: My public library

I can only speak of my experience and tell you that I absolutely love this author's voice. There's something so simple, yet
Holy crap this book was good: haunting, tragic, and gorgeously written. This was written about a dozen years ago and I only heard about it recently because the author has a follow up out (Northwest Corner: dying to read it). I can’t believe I never ran into Reservation Road before. It was a bestseller and a movie and so amazing it’s hard to fathom this is the first I’ve heard of it. It focuses on a tragedy (hit and run) and is told through multiple viewpoints. Sometimes shifting narration works ...more
Oct 18, 2007 Jenna rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: well-adjusted people looking for a change of pace
Reservation Road was intense. Short (and I mean really short) chapters marinated in depression, despair, and not much plot. I've never been a huge fan of merry-go-round narration like this, and I think getting just a short snapshot of each of the three character's awful day just made it worse.

This is the kind of book that can convince you that a terrible thing can, and probably will, happen to you. Maybe tomorrow.

Sometimes reading is supposed to elicit these feelings in you, make you take stoc
Ethan en Grace Learner verliezen hun zoon Josh door een noodlottig ongeval. Hun leven en dat van hun dochtertje Emma wordt vanaf dat moment beheerst door verdriet, woede en schuldgevoel. Dwight Arno, de man die de dood van Josh op zijn geweten heeft en zelf ook vader van een zoontje, is niet bij machte de schuld op zich te nemen. Ook zijn leven is verwoest, al zal het lang duren voordat hij dat onder ogen durft te zien. Indrukwekkend hoe John Burnham Schwartz de gevoelens van deze mensen in beel ...more
This was one fine novel by a writer who possesses great skill. As much as I wanted to hate Dwight, I was nearly always able to empathize with him. The best writers make us see in ourselves the things we wish were not there. It is so easy to take the high road and say, "I'd never do such a thing". But one never knows. I wanted to give the novel five stars. However, at times Dwight seems nearly sociopathic and is close to falling into the category of unreliable narrator. At the novel's end he is m ...more
*2.5 STARS*
- The writing in this book is good; it's solid - no doubt about that.
- But I was very disappointed in the storyline. The front cover touts it as some kind of literary "thriller" but there was NO thriller aspect about this book at all!
- It's just a very simple story, written well stylistically, but unfortunately very dull. NOTHING HAPPENS.
- In fact, this entire book could have been condensed and shortened into a very good short story or novella (which would've had much more impact, in
This book evoked a very strong emotional response in me. I read it out loud at night to my husband, and when we got to the end, I literally was mute, unable to speak and just sobbed. He had to read that section. I was mute for at least 15 minutes, it was weird. This is a book about making the choice to forgive the unforgivable and it really resonated.
Such a haunting book. The same event & its aftermath told by three different people. It is beautifully written & manages to paint the picture of grief, loss & guilt vividly. I only wish the ending were more conclusive!
Lisa Karolchyk benzaia
Have you ever read a book that held promise and captured your attention but then let you down? A book that left you saying...this book COULD have been so good? Reservation Road was that book for me. A fatal hit and run accident leaves two families reeling. Ethan is the father of the little boy that was killed. Ethan blames himself for being unable to protect his son and keep him from harm. Dwight is the driver of the car that killed Ethan. Dwight struggles with his guilt and his feelings of fail ...more
Sometimes I feel a masochistic urge to wrap myself up in a totally depressing book. When these moods come on, give me Russell Banks' supremely morose "Affliction" or "The Sweet Hereafter" and let me wallow in the protagonists' misery, if you please. When I read about the subject matter (which see in the semi-spoiler below) of John Burnham Schwartz' "Reservation Road" I figured it would fill the depressing bill nicely.

Well, it's got the depressing theme mastered: nearly all of its 290 wispy thin
03 March 2011: I’ve seen the film, but haven’t yet read the book… I’m only a few pages in, but so far, it’s very good!

06 March 2011: I’m really enjoying it so far. I saw the film a while back and thought it was fantastic, so wanted to read the book that it was based on. John Burnham Schwartz is a fantastic writer - I love his style. He’s very good at creating atmosphere and painting a scene with little details you can really relate to.

07 March 2011: I finished reading Reservation Road this afte
Simon Lipson
My appreciation of this book may have suffered from the fact that I read Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin at the same time. I have reviewed McCann's book elsewhere; suffice it to say I consider it to be a masterpiece. Schwartz, I feel, has striven to write his own masterpiece, but has fallen some way short. McCann writes with effortless grace and a feel for language, dialogue, pacing and the key emotional notes that mark him out as a genius. Schwartz is ticking boxes a lot of the time, hi ...more
Vicky (Books, Biscuits, and Tea)
Original review:

The reason why I wanted to pick this book up -apart from the fact that the story seemed very interesting and I’ve always loved thrillers/mysteries – is that it seemed different. I love books that are narrated by more than one person so the idea that Reservation Road is told by not one but three different people who, even though they don’t know each other at first, are connected has definitely piqued my interest. And how glad I am that I di

This book tried too hard I think. Tried to be heart wrenching, tried to be viscerally real... Tried too hard and fell flat. I picked it up because the sequel sounded good. I don't think I'll be reading the sequel.

In a seriously depressing beginning, a man rushes home with his ten year old son and hits another man's ten year old son - killing him- and in a moment of panic drives off. That's the plot. Nothing else of note happens. Predictably, the family that loses the son cracks - the dead son's
Reservation Road is a tragic novel about the death of a ten-year old child. As the story begins The Learner family is returning home from a concert, driving along a darkened road, Reservation Road, in North Canaan, Connecticut when the youngest child, Emma needs announces her need to use a restroom. The father finds a dimly lit gas station/auto body shop along the road and pulls into the parking lot. While the mother Grace, and daughter head for the restroom, the father, Ethan, runs inside to ma ...more
Reservation Road was less of a thriller than I had really expected from the synopsis. There was a certain element of one man trying to find his son's killer, and another man trying to hide, but that was only a very minor element of the story when it came down to it. In fact the synopsis made me want to read the book less than I would have if it was presented in the way I read it.
This was a story of loss, and of love. Initially the loss of Josh and how it effects his family- particularly his pare
Kathleen Hagen
Reservation Road, by John Burnham Schwartz, Various narrators, one for each of the three protagonists, Produced by Books on Tape, Downloaded from

Ethan and Grace were coming home from vacation with their two children, Josh and Emma. They stopped at a deserted gas station because Emma had to go to the bathroom. Despite his father’s warning, Josh stood too close to the road and was hit by a passing car with only one headlight. He was killed. The driver did not stop. The rest of the boo
Jamie Gough
This book is immediately gripping, and is written in a style that is almost poetic at times. It is told from the perspective of three narrators, each of whom is more self-aware than I think most people actually are; however, rather than making the book unbelievable, I think this introspection simply adds fascinating layers to the reader’s understanding of the actions that take place in Reservation Road.

The story focuses primarily on two fathers: one, whose son is killed in a hit-and-run car acci
Bonnie Brody
Feb 28, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: harper simmons, Kesler woodward
I just finished reading Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz and, to say I feel stunned, would be putting it mildly. I feel like someone punched me in the chest and left a giant hole in my heart. The book is so good that I barely was able to come up for air.

The story is about a hit and run accident that takes the life of ten year old Josh Learner. He was standing too close to a country road on a dark night and an erratic and racing driver hit him and ran. Josh was killed instantly. Josh was
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John Burnham Schwartz grew up in New York City. At Harvard College, he majored in Japanese studies, and upon graduation accepted a position with a prominent Wall Street investment bank, before finally turning the position down after selling his first novel. Schwartz has taught fiction writing at Harvard, The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Sarah Lawrence College, and he is the literary d ...more
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“There are heroes, 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.” 5 likes
“Why? What had she ever done? What had any of them ever done? To give a child only to take him away. To make and then unmake, as if a family weren't built of lives but of things that could be broken, returned, thrown out--” 2 likes
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