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Red Rover

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A stirring novel about idealism laid waste and the haunting, redemptive bonds of friendship

Deirdre McNamer has won praise for the intelligence, beauty, precision, and sweep of her fiction. Her first novel in seven years, Red Rover tells the story of three Montana men who get swept up in the machinations of World War II and its fateful aftermath. As boys, Aidan and Neil T
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Viking Adult (first published 2007)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  185 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The end-flap of the dust jacket on this book relates a storyline extracted from it that sounds straightforward enough, but McNamer has written something far more complex and fascinating. She tells a story with a beginning, middle and an end, but not at all in that order. While the narrative is set almost entirely in Montana, timelines jump back and forth between 1927, 1939, 1944-46, and 2003. There's an extensive catalog of characters who get their time on center stage, their stories sometimes o ...more
Crystal C
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but I just didn't . . . not really. The beginning is so promising, with some really beautiful, stark descriptions and raw emotions. But the book got more disappointing as it went along. The characters from the beginning are not further developed, and new characters (who mainly were less interesting) are brought into the mix. Also, the book uses a flashback style (switching between 2003, 1943, 1947, etc.) which is fine in theory, but, as executed, felt quite cho ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a book I did not finish, for reasons I won't enumerate. I did get one good thing from it, though. I like this quote about needing to believe a cause (war) was just simply because you suffered and gave your all for it:

"A boy loses a leg and his friends and all his innocence for a cause, he's going to want very much to believe in the value of the cause. As are those who send him to his diminishment. Great pain adding up to nothing, for nothing, about nothing---that's what can't be borne."
Blakely Berger
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Red Rover is just about perfect. You should take your time with it because the little things that don't make sense at first become important as the story unfolds. I found myself going back and re-reading earlier chapters after recognizing a clue.

The story jumps back and forth over eight decades. It could be a difficult read, but Deirdre McNamer writes in simple, lovely prose that is easy to follow. I loved meeting the same characters as children, young adults, and old men. The soul is filled wit
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I wasn't all that impressed with this book. Although the writing itself was good, the switching around in times and characters was confusing. Also I didn't care much for the ending.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intertwined lives and a woven story of life.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I usually dislike ensemble novels, and this was only somewhat of an exception. Overall, the writing is so lovely that I'm about ready to forgive all my qualms with the novel and go out and read everything else McNamer has written. It was really fantastic—every time I got frustrated with the novel's structure/plot, I was kept going by great sentences. I especially enjoyed the lovely descriptions of the western landscape.

Indeed, the book moves well between time and, somewhat, place, but the moveme
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First, no, RED ROVER is not a book about a dog. Deidre McNamer could have chosen a better title for this very moving story.

And whoever chose the cover (or dust jacket) should have picked something less misleading. If they had, I probably would have read this 2007 book sooner. But this picture gives a false impression; RED ROVER begins with two boys riding horses, but it soon moves forward in time and to other Montana locations.

RED ROVER is a mystery. After Aidan Tierney goes to college and law s
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Novels set in familiar places are often a disappointment. We expect the places and institutions and people to be accurate, even though we know that the author has a license to write fiction. So I came to this novel "Red Rover" by Deirdre McNamer anchored in the Sweet Grass Hills of Montana (ancestral homestead of my father) prepared to say "That's not how it is." But Deidre McNamer got the Hills, and the story's transect south to Butte and Missoula, exactly true to place.

A few years ago, durin
Rosalind Gallaspie
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
I completed this novel due to my sense of obligation to the bookshop owner in Missoula who helped me select a piece of fiction by a Montana author. I have not given my full and deserved attention to this work in which McNamer uses events from her personal past as the frame for the fragmented narrative of two brothers (Aidan and Neil) and Aidan's FBI friend (Roland). I learned that McNamer had initially planned to write a non-fiction account of her uncle's inexplicable death upon his return as an ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There’s a mystery here; not a who done it, but why. The unraveling of that mystery is the ostensible plot of this novel, but there are many things going on here. McNamer writes beautifully about life on the Montana plains and mine fields, from the 1920s to current. There’s family drama, WW2, the suspicions of small town life and the difficulty of fitting in if you’re different, the obstacles we all face growing older. And over all is the FBI (!) and the spirit of J. Edgar and his obsessions. Yes ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Red Rover by Deirdre McNamer opens with Neil and Aiden, young brothers, heading out on their horses across the Montana plains on a camping trip. The descriptions of Montana’s wide open spaces and the interaction between the two boys will keep you reading. When WWII strikes Neil heads off to Europe as a pilot and Aiden goes to South America taking on dangerous cloak and dagger missions for the FBI. After the war ends Neil is delighted for find himself still in one piece but Aiden has returned ill ...more
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Montanan Deirdre McNamer has beautifully captured a moment in time from the late 1920s when a young boy could ride his horse forever over unfenced prairie. Her descriptions of the beauty of the land and the fierceness of a winter storm on a Montana mountain pass are as true today as then. McNamer's descriptions of a B-29 bomber pilot's missions in 1945 take the reader directly into the heart of the experience. As these narratives are woven throughout the novel, the story told is of the bonds of ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
The writing is beautiful, but the story itself is weakly executed. The time jumps are choppy, many new characters are completely unnecessary, and most of the stunning revelations are couched in confusing situations and language...confusing for the reader and for the characters themselves. Through this confusion, it is hard to say if anyone in the story reaches any kind of real resolution, or if their lives would have been any different if fate had not brought them together in the end. This story ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
This book was very hard to put down. At first I found the jumping back and forth in time to be disconcerting but then I found it added to the tension. It's a story of idealism, betrayal, and friendship set against the backdrop of Montana in the latter half of the twentieth century. There's a lot of information about conditions in Montana over the years and some about the FBI. The main characters are three men and one serves as a bomber pilot in WWII while the others join the FBI. I highly recomm ...more
Lauren M
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
There were some very nice things about this book - beautiful, descriptive prose about the setting, and a gentle mystery that kept you reading to the end. But we kind of tore the book to shreads at my book club meeting on March 9. What we didn't like: the story jumping around in time was a little confusing, the characters didn't seem to have inner dimension, and parts of the story didn't seem to fit. That said, the author has a way with language and tone that makes this book a gentle and pleasing ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book itself was a little like one of the messages it tries to convey: that life is disappointing, and endings are never as satisfying as we want them to be. I thought I knew what this story was about, as it started - but in the middle the book began to go in several different directions. And while it was nice to understand a little more about the different characters in the book, at the end I had to ask, "why did you bother to tell me about that?" As I said, it was an ending that didn't rea ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific read. I've been on a roll with excellent novels the past month. Set in Montana, the book's chapters arc between the WW II era and the present day unfolding the story of brothers Aiden and Neil Tierney and Roland Taliaferro, Aiden and Roland become friends in law school and are both recruited by the FBI on the eve of WW II. McNamer is masterful not only in creating characters you care about, she also captures the essence of time and place. Her depiction of the paranoid culture ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning. Good hook in the first chapter.

Parts of sentences I have to read over and over and stare out the window - to pull myself away from the story, the rational - to savor the wordplay fully. Many times.

I had no idea where it was going, what kind of book it was. What genre? Why had I picked it up to begin with? - in a small bookstore in a little town in Texas, thousands of miles from home. What a great way to read a book - coming at it naked and open ready for discovery.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This cover is deceptive. It is not a book about horses or horseback riding. It's about a family in Montana from 1927 to 2003 and various community members and others who intersect their lives at critical junctures. The pieces fit together in a way that is not clear until the very end, but is very satisfying. The characters are well-drawn, the prose is perfectly pitched. I see why it was on many "best of the year" lists for 2010. Highly recommend it.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pre Nursing Home Residents, Sandwich Generation, Adult Communitiy Prospects
In just about ten years I will be in the place the characters in this story are. Age gallops on and teeters to ??? Our young minds can't comprehend why our old bodies no can longer leap for joy without an Advil chaser. But oh the memories!
ccccurt Heimbuck
Feb 10, 2008 rated it liked it
I really liked the beginning of this book, but was disappointed by the end. I actually skimmed the last 20 pages of the book because I didn't care about it enough to finish. The writing was beautiful, but the story got in its way.
Oct 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The characters were well developed and not predictable cookie cutter people. The theme of taking care of each other through thick and thin even when you don't feel much like it, mirrored the shades of gray in life.
cindy sisson
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Tangential history of two brothers, both accomplished, and how their lives are intertwined with multiple charactors and events. Tasty tale of poetic justice, redemption, and the balance of powers. A glimpse of how governments work.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you liked Whistling Season, you’ll like this one too. The novel is split into three-ish sections, each focusing on a different character. The basic story follows two brothers in Montana and through World War II and into old age. It’s difficult to explain. I really enjoyed it.
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Directly after finishing this book, I gave it 3 stars. Three days later I was still thinking about the characters-thus the 4 star rating.
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ann by: NY Times
Excellent description of time and place...set in Montana in the 1940's and 2000's. Great mix of history, mystery and romance. Didn't want it to end.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Dee's writing is incredibly lyrical -- the landscapes of this story are incredibly divergent, yet I feel placed in each.
Sep 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
I can't wait to read more of Dee's books.
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