Jessica's Reviews > Reservation Road

Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz
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Mar 27, 2009

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Read in March, 2009

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 for the entirety of the book. He lets his issues with his ex-wife, his son, and his work cloud his thinking, and never once tries to redeem himself.

The only characters I actually cared for in this book were Sam and Emma. Sam, forced to be older and wiser than his 10 years, and Emma, forced to live in a home where her parents have lost themselves to grief, where she's become the non-child in the face of her brother's death, and where she's made to be the strongest of the Learner family.

I struggled so with the complete lack of caring on Ethan and Grace's part. At some point, don't you have to remember your other child? Don't you realize your responsibilities as a parent, and as a spouse? Don't you step back and say, "We might need some help here"?

I know this is going to sound terrible, but I was also frustrated by Josh. How awful is that? This kid - this peripheral character who is only briefly in, but manages to drive the entire story, this child who was taken so young - this same kid manages to frustrate me. But maybe it wasn't Josh I was frustrated with. Maybe it was Ethan, and his inability to reach Josh, or his lack of trying.

This was written well, and I liked that the chapters flipped between the three major adults in the story, but I would have liked a little more gumption from Ethan and Grace, and something a little more redeeming from Dwight. I shudder to imagine what the future years hold for Sam and Emma.
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