Ash Wednesday
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Ash Wednesday

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,553 ratings  ·  149 reviews
From the actor, director, and writer Ethan Hawke: a piercing novel of love, marriage, and renewal.

Jimmy is AWOL from the army, but—with characteristic fierceness and terror—he’s about to embark on the biggest commitment of his life. Christy is pregnant with Jimmy’s child, and she’s determined to head home, with or without Jimmy, to face up to her past and prepare for the f...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 23rd 2002 by Knopf (first published 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,350)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K.D. Absolutely
Tell me, how many Hollywood actors can write novels? Especially ones who are still active in movies? Especially if there is no co-writer beside his/her name?

Ethan Hawke (born 1970) has written two decent novels: The Hottest State (1996) and this book, Ash Wednesday (2002). When these books came out, I was not yet into heavy reading so these did not interest me. But a couple of years back, a member in our Filipinos group here in Goodreads favorably commented on these books so when I saw them in m...more
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
Aug 31, 2009 Hannah Eiseman-Renyard rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: College dreamers, coffee shop posers, the feckless
’Will-They-Won’t-They?’ On the Road

Those au fait with Ethan Hawke’s ‘philosopher groovy syndrome’ breed of intelligent, dreamy slackers in movie roles such as Reality Bites, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, will find more than a hint of them repeated in this sophomoric tale. The only problem is that, though all those characters are likeable guys with interesting ideas, they might not be the tautest of storytellers.

Army fuckup Jimmy Heartsock finds himself going AWOL to propose to/win back his...more
Again I received this book as a birthday present. It's on par with the first book. At it's heart it is a simple tale, but told in such a way that it keeps your interest. The only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 is because there's a part where he descibes a character as wearing a blue and gold Michigan State sweatshirt. As someone who went to Michigan State I took offence - our colors are green & white - University of Michigan (our main rival) are blue & gold. This mistake is unforg...more
I wanted the book for a while without knowing much about it, other than Ethan Hawke was the author. My then-boyfriend bought it for me. I was unable to like or even mildly stand any of the characters. The part that most bothered me is early on in the book, when the protagonist's future girlfriend lifts up her skirt and shows him "her pussy" because he said "I'm not afraid of you." I couldn't help but feel this was unrealistic (not to mention irritatingly stupid).
Jul 18, 2011 Sun rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
A riveting read that's fresh and vital and funny. Jimmy Heartsock is a young soldier who breaks up with girlfriend Christy Walker only to propose marriage to her eight days later. The story alternates between the narratives of ambivalent and haunted Christy and the rambunctious but earnest Jimmy. The two drive across America via New Orleans and the craziness of Mardi Gras stopping for an express wedding and some pregnancy woes.

I have no idea whether the story is autobiographical or not (and I do...more
In the name of honesty I will tell you that I was skeptical going in... because he's Ethan Hawke, a guy who probably wanted to add "novelist" to his already long and gorgeous resume.

More honesty: Two chapters in I realized that I needed to carry a notebook because I had to pull over constantly to rewind the audio (do we still call it rewinding?) and write down my favorite passages. There were so so many.

"To love each other and live in the truth. To not lie at all. To maintain a perspective on t...more
Libro messo in wishlist praticamente solo perché scritto da Ethan Hawke, l'attore, senza sapere nulla della trama. E' la storia di Jimmy e Christy, delle loro esistenze problematiche e del loro tentativo di condividere la vita e formare una famiglia.
Guy that has to face to decision to grow up once his girl gets knocked up. It's been done, of course, but I still found it a good read. Think of Hornby's torn relationships and adult confusion/angst save the funnies and peculiar obsessions. Female POV included.

I got this for 50 cents at an Opportunity Shop. Boy meets girl, some trials and tribulations ensue, will there be a happy ending? Not terrible. Worth the 50 cents for sure. Better than a lot of stuff out there.
T.E. Shepherd
This is a fantastic, thoughtful, and insightful read about some not so likeable characters. That is not to say that it is impossible to like Jimmy, Chrissy, or their love story of a road trip as they cross America - just that you can see all to well how easy it would be for either of them to find reasons to dislike the other. In that I guess its all too much life. Which is why, although I wouldn't want to be Jimmy, its also a really good read.

This is Ethan Hawke's second novel. More commonly kno...more
Bear with me as I try and sort this one out. As a novelist, Hawke has taken a huge step forward. What was almost too-spare prose in his first novel, The Hottest State, has been amped up to the max in Ash Wednesday. It's almost like he's a completely different writer.

Themes of renewal and second chances are woven thoughout with success, and the dual narrative of Jimmy and Christy suggests skill -- unlike a lot of multiple POV narratives, each character had their own way of speaking, thinking, an...more
Ian Mapp
I own a signed copy of this book. I think that I got it when I subscribed to Esquire magazine many years ago, and it has sat on my shelf for a long time.

No reason for this, just that I get tied up in Library books.

You shouldnt necessarily think that because someone is famous in another discipline they cannot make good authors - just look at Nick Cave. This is a very assured book, that is well structured and is about real people in real situations.

It tells of the relationship between Jimmy Heart...more
At 29, Jimmy Heartsock doesn't think too much of himself. He longs to be someone he can admire. He had joined the Army on a whim after his father's suicide and hates it. But he didn't know what else to do at the time, looking for some order in his life. Christy, his 26-year-old girlfriend, is pregnant with his child. All she wants is to get to her hometown of Houston, a home she left behind 10 years ago. Together they embark on a rocky journey of self-discovery, an emotional road-trip from Alban...more
Valerie K
It was ok, not bad, and that is what 2 stars is supposed to mean. It was a fairly absorbing read, but the characters were so prone to constant yet shifting self-analysis, always on the brink of disaster or in mid-crisis state, it was like a hyped up version of some fifties melodrama where everyone is having epiphonies every ten seconds, then something happens and they have a new epiphony. It was too much. Still... there was something interesting about the way the two characters thought about the...more
Susana Pereira
Só peguei neste livro (via bookcrossing) porque não sabia que o Ethan Hawke actor também era escritor e fiquei com curiosidade sobre se teria talento nesta outra arte.
Claro que, se fosse só um bocadinho mais cinéfila do que sou, já saberia que ele tinha sido co-autor do argumento do filme "Before Sunset", que também protagonizou, e que foi momeado para o Óscar de "Melhor argumento adaptado".
Além disso este já é o segundo livro que publica mas poderia ficar a dúvida sobre se o sucesso editorial s...more
An educational reading indeed, either spiritually or rationally speaking.
The novel talks about the life of a young man, Frederic, during the French Revolution and the founding of the French Empire in 1848. It is said that Frederic is in fact Flaubert himself telling about some real events in his life and of course about his platonic love for an older woman, in the book, called Mme Arnoux.
We are able to follow, with a somehow ironic and pessimistic tone, a different set of characters who live th...more
I was surprised by this, and mostly in a good way. Basically I was just curious what sort of book Hawke would write, and I'd expected it to be high-falutin', pretentious, patchy and irritating, but with a few (grudgingly acknowledged) bits of brilliance. Instead, once I got past the first couple of chapters and their introductions to the two main characters (these I did find pretty irritating for both characters' unrealistically observant and very writerly natures), I found this unexpectedly enj...more
"Not only could Alison not see, she was also extremely short. The two might have been connected- kidney problems, I think- but I was already tall and it added to how awkward I felt around her. I held her hand as we walked around the park, doing all the low-key slides in tandem. She was sweet but a pain in the ass; all she wanted to do was wade in the children’s pool and place her vagina directly over a small bubbling fountain, “This feels FANTASTIC,” she’d say loudly. “Oh, my goodness!” She’d ex...more
If you're looking for a light, fluffy, quick read, this book is certainly not for you. However, if you're looking for something thought-provoking and deep, pick this up.

One thing I kept thinking while reading this was that it reminded me of Markus Zusak. It focused more on the characters and their thoughts than what was actually happening. Sure, a lot of things happened in this book. But it wasn't necessarily the outcome that mattered, it was more what Jimmy and Christy took out of the experien...more
Jimmy Heartsock is going AWOL from the army and chasing after his lover Christy in order to propose marriage in a frozen car park. Christy is terrified, not so much that she’s going to have a baby, but that if she stays with Jimmy she may end up with two. As the lovers drive across America in an ancient Chevy Nova, they ask questions they’ve never dared ask before, and confront family history, difficult choices, personal failures and the occasional cop in a compelling, funny and gritty drama of...more
Sarah Fitting-mcpherson
Halfway through page one I realized that the writing was spot on, the voice distinct, the character disturbing and that was all I needed. I was now on this crazy journey with Jimmy and Christy, and their cat Grace. I forgot about Ethan, I forgot about teenage drooling, and I was submerged in the fantastic, sometimes less than pretty, life of these two main characters. I felt like a voyeur sitting in the backseat of Jimmy's Chevy Nova and the greatest part was Jimmy and Christy had no idea I was...more
"Ash Wednesday" by Ethan Hawke is an easy 220 pages to read. The acknowledgements thank Allen Ginsberg for inspiration but it feels more like William S. Burroughs' "Junkie." it's Chester Himes without the racial tension; Jim Thompson without the crime; J.D. Salinger without the nihilism. It may be dark, dysfunctional, and even crass at times but it barely hides the existential debate inside the minds of the two intelligent but maladjusted lovers. It's certainly not banal- each plot point is an e...more
So the problem of being a recognizable actor who has also written a novel is that it's hard to separate the screen persona/actor from the main character, especially if the main character occupies the same general demographic as the author. With Hawke's first novel, I never successfully separated the two people actor/author and main character, which detracted from my enjoyment of said novel. In this novel, I spent the first portion picturing Jimmy as Ethan Hawke, but eventually was able to discar...more
Kellyanne Lynch
I really appreciated the ideas about God and spirituality that this book presented. I was in the midst of some soul searching myself when I read it, and this book was just the fodder I needed.
(Really 4.5 stars)

I really, really enjoyed this book. Honestly, I grabbed it at the used book sale because it was Ethan Hawke. Figured why not? I liked the description on the inside cover and that was that. When I started reading, I didn't know what to expect. And probably about 1/3 of the way through, I started to realize how much I was enjoying reading the words. As simple as the plot is, two fucked up people trying to figure out love, it was engaging, thought-provoking, real, and just flat ou...more
Ryan Morris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'd go 3.5 stars if I could. While this one wasn't as engaging as Hawke's THE HOTTEST STATE, the characters' honesty in their stories was once again impressive.
There’s something familar about despair; it’s like a soft, old blanket. I know depression ; I feel welcome there. I can’t take the everyday living with small disappointments and fragile victories, the graynes of maybe it will work out and maybe it won’t. I always feel the end is right around the corner, so why even try ?

The best thing about being young is you can be promising. By now however, a big chunk of my life has already gone by and it was almost all undistinguishable.

To know who you are a...more
I've always like him as an actor thought he was pretty amazing in gattaca...had no idea he could write. I think he is a very intelligent writer. This is not a book i would have picked up normally by reading the synopsis, i mostly grabbed it off the shelf because I wanted to see what sort of writer he was.

Now I haven't re-read the book in a long while so I can't be specific, but I remember liking the book to think "yup he's a good writer too"...but I also remember I couldn't quite get into his o...more
Apr 08, 2014 Maria marked it as to-read
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 78 79 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rescue Me
  • American Knees
  • The Lost Daughter of Happiness: A Novel
  • Love Poems of Elizabeth and Robert Browning
  • Politics
  • Fox Girl
  • Lost Paradise
  • Crashers
  • Never Far From Nowhere
  • Breathe
  • Watching the Tree to Catch a Hare: A Chinese Daughter Reflects on Happiness, Spiritual Beliefs and Universal
  • Der Hahn ist tot
  • Wartime Lies
  • The Tapestries
  • American Woman
  • Tommy's Tale
  • Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People
  • Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965-1999
Ethan Green Hawke is a two-time Academy Award-nominated American actor, writer and film director.

In 1988, Hawke was cast in a role in director Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society; the film's success was considered Hawke's breakthrough. He left school and appeared in A Midnight Clear, Alive, Reality Bites, Before Sunrise, Gattaca, The Newton Boys, Great Expectations, and many other movies. In 2001, he...more
More about Ethan Hawke...
The Hottest State Before Sunrise The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke Manhattan Story Gattaca

Share This Book

“Give your heart to everybody you meet. The rest is pretense.” 23 likes
“And you and I know you’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and, yes, that’s an expression, something people say, that has no meaning, but what I mean is there isn’t anybody in the whole world who has loved me the way you have, not my mother, not my old man, not my friends.
There’s nothing preventing me and you from loving each other and being some kinda world-class shining beacon of love except how bad do we want it and what are we willing to do for it?
Now, I know I did you wrong, and I was freaking out and being stupid and I was mean to you. You know sometimes I get all fucking confused and I can’t see outside of my own asshole. I’m unhappy. Why am I unhappy? It’s gotta be somebody’s fault, right? It couldn’t just be that I’m a self-centered fuck spinning around inside my own dank cloud of concerns.
There isn’t anything I can think of that I really want or that the best part of me wants, that loving you won’t start doing. I love you.”
More quotes…