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Red Hook Road

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  3,779 ratings  ·  746 reviews
As lyrical as a sonata, Ayelet Waldman’s follow-up novel to Love and Other Impossible Pursuits explores the aftermath of a family tragedy.

Set on the coast of Maine over the course of four summers, Red Hook Road tells the story of two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, and of the ways in which their lives are unraveled and stitched together by misfortune, by good in
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Published July 13th 2010 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2010)
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A sentimental, weepy soap opera of a read about two families dealing with the tragic loss of two children that occurred in one of the more awful ways you can think of. The sort of novel where people heal in literary ways rather than actual ones, and metaphors give us the moral at the end. There were occasionally well done sentences, snuck in where they didn't matter, but I started skimming near the end, since it couldn't possibly matter if I skipped a few pages, either to the plot or characters. ...more
It's never easy to write about tragic and premature death. Many writers have tried, and have lost their footing, stumbling on the thin obstacles of sentimentality and bathos. The result is a feeling of manipulation on the part of the reader. I'm pleased to state that Ayelet Waldman navigates this topic with confidence and sensitivity, elevating this book of families unraveling with considerable aplomb.

Instead of focusing on the tragedy itself, which many lesser writers might do, she asks importa
Jessica Woodbury
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This book was quite a disappointment. It began with a terrible tragedy – the death of a young couple in a car accident on their wedding day. The rest took place during the following few summers in Maine as the families dealing with their loss attempt to fulfill the legacies of the deceased. I was uninterested. The characters were unsympathetic and I found many of their interests, like boxing and sailing, boring. The only engaging plotline involved the bride’s virtuoso violinist grandfather and h ...more
This was a good read. I loved this paragraph at almost the end of the book:
"That was true, Iris would sometimes think, about marriage: it was only a boat, too. A wooden boat, difficult to build, even more difficult to maintain, whose beauty derived at least in part from its unlikelihood. Long ago the pragmatic justifications for both marriage and wooden-boat building had been lost or superseded. Why invest countless hours, years, and dollars in planing and carving, gluing and fastening, caulking
I come to you with, curiously, no complaints about Ayelet Waldman's "Red Hook Road." I believe the fiery ginger has written her best novel to date, possibly the best novel she can write, and it is pretty damn good.

This is what literary limbo looks like. It's a place where you read a book, enjoy said book, probably won't try to jam it down anyone's pants with a breathless "You. Must. Read. This." But if anyone asks your opinion of the work, you will beam like a Glo-Worm, and maybe throw in an app
Gretchen Achilles
I got this through the first reads program. I like Waldman's articles and non fiction, but having read this and her previous novel, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, I hate her fiction. She describes every setting in such tedious detail, you want to scream. It disguises any plot going on, which in these two novels was "suspenseful". It is an irritating device to wade through all the loooonnnng descriptions of wherever her characters might be, then something tragic happens, only you don't know ...more
Recently, Literary Agent and Author Nathan Bransford suggested that the question one should ask when reading a piece of creative writing is - did the author achieve what he or she set out to do?

I would love to ask Ayelet Waldman what she set out to do when she wrote Red Hook Road. For example: Did she set out to make me cry while I sat in Mission Tire waiting for the new tires and rotation? Or did she mean to make me relate to character Iris who has control issues?

Hang on, this isn't about me, i
Ayelet Waldman made a calculated decision in writing this that more is more. More metaphors, more details, more figurative language surely means ... better writing?
Not so much. I did not hate this book, at all, as much as I just felt dragged through it. In fact, it not evoking feelings of hatred might even be more of what was wrong with the book - I just didn't care enough to. The characters were types more than people, and annoying ones at that, and every buttoning of every button made for a ra
Rebekah ODell
I literally gulped down this book. In one sitting.

First of all, allow me to confess that the real reason I pulled this book out of my TBR pile is because I think the cover design is beautiful. And I wanted to read something beautiful. I wasn’t disappointed.

Waldman’s novel opens with a graceful “prelude” — a sixteen-page description of a photographer attempting to take a large family portrait after a wedding. While the photographer attempts to wrangle various family members and configure the perf
After reading Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, I thought, hey – Ayelet and I could be friends! But now that I’ve read Red Hook Road I have to qualify that – we could be friends as long as she doesn’t ask me for feedback on her fiction. And we probably wouldn’t enjoy the same novels, judging from the writing style she seems to think is literary. Her writing isn’t awful, but it is overdone. Way too much unnecessary deta ...more
I have had Red Hook Road on my list to read for quite a long time. I was excited to jump into this "summer read." I was disappointed. Follows two families tied together by a marriage, which ends in tradegy before the reception even starts.

The Copakens have a large summer house on the coast of Maine in Red Hook. The Tetherly's have been Red Hook "Lifers" and Jane, the matriarch, runs a cleaning service, and happens to have the Copaken's as clients. Her son falls in love with Becca Copaken and en
I was reluctant to read this book because of the tragedy that occurs in the beginning. Having lost a sibling, I didn't really want to read a book about a family losing its bride and groom en route to the reception. My friends assured me this was worth reading and I'd be able to handle it.

As I was told, this book doesn't focus on the tragedy itself, but rather, its ramifications. I was definitely able to relate to Ruthie, as well as other members of her family. This is another one of those books
Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldeman needs no introduction, mainly because you just need to go out and get this book.

Oh Ayelet, how you love to break my heart. I knew what I was getting into; after all, I read the book flap. But I didn't know that I wasn't going to be able to get out of bed for want of reading just two more pages. I didn't know that I was going to cry and long for these two people whom I never met, and truly only spent seven pages (if that!) with. I didn't know that my heart would
Maureen Ann
One of the things I loved most about this book occurred at the very end. Ruthie (the main character, as it turned out) was wondering whether one simple choice could affect everything. She said that just taking a left where one could have taken a right might have been the reason for things to turn out as they had. This was a theme for the book, as the sentiment was echoed in Iris' thoughts about the butterfly effect just after her daughter Becca was killed in a car accident on her wedding day.

K2 -----
I heard Waldman on the Diane Rehm Show and then read a review of the book in Booklist (the American Library Association's phenomenal magazine) and decided it was a novel of merit.

The book was written based in part on a short snippet of a story that the author had read about a couple in NY who had been killed going from their wedding to their wedding reception with the best man also in the car.

Waldman weaves quite a tale and is able to weave into each of her characters their own ways of dealing
During a week filled with bad news, which also happened to be the first week of our vacation,I ambled to my tiny indie bookstore at the beach to buy Freedom (pre-Oprah hee haw). It was for sale nationally, but the season was winding down on the Outer Banks and the store had not ordered it to stock. Wah! So I perused and recognized Red Hook Road's author, Ayelet Waldman. I loved what I had read of her husband's work, so I bought it --full price! in hardcover! (hey -it was vacation). Back on the s ...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
I struggled both with this novel and how I was going to rate it. It is well written, but really overly written. I'm not sure if that Ayelet Waldman consciously did that on purpose or was too concerned about a perfect treatise on overwhelming grief that binds two families forever. A terrible accident on Red Hook Road leaves a bride and groom dead. Their families at the reception hall are devastated. And that summer and the three subsequent summers tell the tale of how they have dealt with that gr ...more
Cathe Olson
I love reading a book when I have no idea what it will be about and I can be completely surprised. Well, that's what happened with this one because the ARC I received had no description on it. Red Hook Road starts off just a little slow with a fancy wedding. A girl from a rich summer family marries a Maine "local" boy and, while the families are not quite thrilled, they are reconciled to it. Waldman really captures the feel of a wedding . . . it is kind of slow as you wait for the bride and groo ...more
This looked like such a promising, substantial book, and I really wanted to like it. But in the end, it felt poorly-executed and somewhat empty. Some reviews called it "lyrical," and I did enjoy the occasional luminous sentence here and there, but Waldman did not sustain that much beyond the first third of the novel. Her narrative excursions into various special topics (sailing, Judaism, boxing, music) read more like opportunities to display her research and/or personal interests rather than as ...more
So Bildungsroman is a novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, but what is the term (and it must have a somewhat Germanic sounding name) for a novel that examines the thoughts and motivations of a family, or group of characters, usually after some major event has happened. English majors, help me out here.

This is my favorite kind of novel. I get to drop in on a family, see what's going on, make judgements about their motivations, becom
Red Hook Road is a terrific novel. It tells the stories of two families as different as they could be. The working-class Hewins are native Mainers, a family that keeps Maine going during the cold months when the summer people return to the big-city. The Copakens are a sophisticated Jewish family from Manhattan. The novel begins when Jane Hewins son marries Iris Copakens daughter and a tragedy immediately ensues. The next four summers are trying for both families.

This book is for reader's who en
Basically, the novel follows the parents of the bride (the somewhat snotty upperclass Daniel and Iris) and the mother of the groom (blue-collar Jane) for three years after a tragedy involving their children. The book was divided into each subsequent summer after the tragedy, which was a brilliant way to do it.

The siblings of the bride and groom grieve and hook up, a prodigy finds a mentor and later a home, a marriage dissolves. The writing itself is very well done. The characters are fleshed ou
This book was gifted to me through the Goodreads “First Reads Program.”

The novel progresses over a period of four summers following a tragedy that impacts two families. The author manages to capture, sometimes with painful detail, how each character deals with the loss. It became apparent to me that the author seemed quite invested in these characters, and as a result I did as well.

The story begins with wedding day preparations and all the joys associated with such a special day. A young coupl
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I thought LOVE AND OTHER IMPOSSIBLE PURSUITS was a wonderful book so I was so excited to get my hand on a copy of RED HOOK ROAD. The book opens with two families gathering for the Maine summer wedding of John and Becca. The families couldn't be more different with Tom's family being a working-class Maine family and Becca's family being a privileged New York family that summers in Maine. The two are brought together through a tragic event
I won this book as a first-reads giveaway, and it is my second book to read of Waldman's. I'll point out the obvious joke that she likes to write about dead Jews (ok ok, yeah bad joke) but seriously, can't she write anything a little more uplifting? "Red Hook Road" starts off with a literal bang with a photographer trying to take a family portrait after the wedding of John and Becca. What happens next is probably ever person's greatest nightmare, and that is dying in a terrible car-crash on the ...more
A very good book about relationships and family. A tragedy in the beginning of the book affects the lives of two families living in Maine. John, a native marries Becca, a summer family daughte, in a large church wedding. John's mother, Jane, runs the cleaning business that cares for Becca's family's house in the winter month. It is a very awkward situation to say the least. After the ceremony all the guests are waiting for the bride and groom to arrive at the Grange Hall for the reception, but ...more
Andrea Arana
Red Hook Road tells the story about 2 families, The Tetherlys and the Copakens, who were bonded by marriage and tragedy struck. One of the family's daughter suddenly dies, two siblings who find a kind of comfort and solace in each other, and a girl whose talent for playing the violin, turns these 2 families from terrible to wonderful. when i read this book, it explained so much detail about the loss of a daughter's death. I don't know what it's like to lose a loved one, but from seeing the faces ...more
Set on the coast of Maine, over the course of four summers, "Red Hook Road" tells the story of two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, and of the ways in which their lives are unraveled and stitched together by misfortune, by good intentions and failure, and by love and calamity.

Our story begins with the wedding of Rebecca (Becca) Copaken and John Tetherly. We see each of the participants through the eye of the photographer—almost as if we're looking through the shutter as he lines them al
Charlie Quimby
A wedding briefly unites two families before the bride and groom are killed in a horrific crash. Even before the accident, the relationship between the two mothers was fraught with class tension and personality differences — the groom's mother cleans the summer home for the bride's well-to-do parents. In the aftermath, members of both families cope with loss in ways that compound each others' pain.

Waldman is particularly good at the nuances of the relationship between the mothers who are now "r
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Ayelet Waldman is the author of Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of ...more
More about Ayelet Waldman...
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“That was true, Iris would sometimes think, about marriage: it was only a boat, too. A wooden boat, difficult to build, even more difficult to maintain, whose beauty derived at least in part from its unlikelihood. Long ago the pragmatic justifications for both marriage and wooden-boat building had been lost or superseded. Why invest countless hours, years, and dollars in planing and carving, gluing and fastening, caulking and fairing, when a fiberglass boat can be had at a fraction of the cost? Why struggle to maintain love and commitment over decades when there were far easier ways to live, ones that required no effort or attention to prevent corrosion and rot? Why continue to pour your heart into these obsolete arts? Because their beauty, the way they connect you to your history and to the living world, justifies your efforts. A long marriage, like a classic wooden boat, could be a thing of grace, but only if great effort was devoted to its maintenance. At first your notions of your life with another were no more substantial than a pattern laid down in plywood. Then year by year you constructed the frame around the form, and began layering memories, griefs, and small triumphs like strips of veneer planking bent around the hull of everyday routine. You sanded down the rough edges, patched the misunderstandings, faired the petty betrayals. Sometimes you sprung a leak. You fell apart in rough weather or were smashed on devouring rocks. But then, as now, in the teeth of a storm, when it seemed like all was lost, the timber swelled, the leak sealed up, and you found that your craft was, after all, sea-kindly.” 7 likes
“As if one's capacity for pain had anything to do with life's apportionment of agonies, Mr. Kimmelbrod thought. Such idiocy.” 2 likes
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