Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Northwest Corner

Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz
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I did a quick second reading of Reservation Road prior to reading Northwest Corner. While it's not strictly necessary, I do recommend doing so if you have the time and inclination. It really enhanced my enjoyment of Northwest Corner to have the characters fresh in my mind and compare the past with the present.

When we last saw Sam Arno in Reservation Road, he was a sleepy boy of ten, asking his dad if they could go sledding later. He hadn't a clue that his life would change forever on that day.
Now Sam is a quiet, confused, surly 22-year-old UConn baseball star. His anger boils over one night in a bar, and he commits a savage act of violence. Fearing arrest, he flees to Southern California, seeking the father he hasn't seen or spoken to in twelve years. His father Dwight has made a fresh start in Santa Barbara, where no one knows about the hit-and-run death of Josh Learner all those years ago.

Sam's crisis gives us a chance to revisit some of Reservation Road's central characters and see the long-term effects of what happened twelve years ago. We get the story through the perspectives of five characters, with Dwight Arno's being the central, first-person narrative. Members of the Learner family are represented, but Northwest Corner is largely the story of what used to be the Arno family: Sam, Dwight, and his ex-wife Ruth. I found Ruth to be the most admirable character, which is quite a shift from the way I viewed her in Reservation Road. She has a lot of history to overcome, and she gives Dwight more grace than he deserves. Ruth has the additional burden of handling a serious health crisis alone, and she does so with strength and dignity.

Schwartz doesn't hit you in the face with what you're supposed to get from the book. These are damaged people doing what humans do. It's up to you to decide how well they've handled their pain, and what's possible for them in the future. If you have wounds of your own, always know where your tissues are. You may find yourself a little weepy. There are moments of clarity that will resonate with your experiences and, if you're lucky, show you a new way of seeing them.

This novel has greater complexity in both content and sentence structure than Reservation Road. The change in writing style does require some adjustment. For me, this wasn't a difficult adjustment to make, and I read Northwest Corner in about two days.[4.5 stars]

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I need to marinate this one in my thinkbox for awhile. I'm at a loss for a review.


message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin So...4 star fiction that you gave 5 stars to? ;) Is that what you're marinating?


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Hee! Good catch! I started with four stars, then changed it to five and forgot to change the shelf. Eventually I'll quit flip-flopping over one silly star and write the dang review.


message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin :)


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