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Red Hook Road

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  4,794 ratings  ·  823 reviews

A rich and rewarding story of love, loss, and the power of family from the bestselling author of Bad Mother and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.
In the aftermath of a devastating wedding day, two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, find their lives unraveled by unthinkable loss. Over the course of the next four summers in Red Hook, Maine, they struggle to bridge differenc
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  4,794 ratings  ·  823 reviews

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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
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 thr
Jessica Woodbury
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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, ca
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, vine, fiction
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
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 detail, which ...more
Gretchen Achilles
Jul 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1st-reads
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
Rebekah O'Dell
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 member
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 fo
Ron Charles
Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite Joyce Carol Oates novels -- "The Falls" -- opens with the groom drowning a few hours after his wedding night. Now, Ayelet Waldman cuts the honeymoon even shorter: In her new novel, "Red Hook Road," the groom and the bride die in a traffic accident between the church and the reception. Anyone hoping to push this grim sub-genre further will have to slay the newlyweds at the altar. But whereas Oates uses that nuptial tragedy for her own weird brand of macabre comedy, Waldman some ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
So this is the second Waldman book I've read and I'm still less than impressed. I put them both on my to-read after discovering Chabon was her husband. I'm not sure how or why I think that she would be a great read because he is, but that is about the best explanation I have for why I would continue to read her work.

Red Hook is not bad. It is an attempt to make literary the grief of a family after the death of a young couple on their wedding day. I say "a family" rather than "the fam
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
K2 -----
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 grief. I ...more
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-challenge
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. ...more
Cathe Olson
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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 motiva
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
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
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is a beautiful summer day and a young couple in Maine has a small wedding with all their friends and family there. After they have their post-wedding photos taken at the beach, their limo ( a gift from her out of town girlfriends) is driving them back to the reception when it has a terrible accident. Everyone dies.
Now, it sounds like an awful book, but it is not. The rest of the story traces how their family members react and deal with this tragedy for the next three years. All are in pain,
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Great writing; story was slow-going.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Gorgeous and haunting portrait of two families brought together by tragedy, over successive summers in Maine.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In Red Hook Road, it's Becca and John's wedding day. What should have been a day full of celebration is cut short by a tragic accident just minutes after the ceremony. Both Becca and John are killed in a car accident. Their families and friends are understandably devastated. As the families return to Red Hook Road for the next few summers, they discover that time doesn't necessarily heal all wounds. As they struggle to go on, they manage to find solace in ways they can't imagine.

I adored this book.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Red Hook Road. Ayelet Waldman. 2010. Doubleday. 335 pages. ISBN 9780385517867.

Ayelet Waldman has definitely found her calling in writing beautiful literature, with Red Hook Road being her latest and greatest novel to date! With the exception of Daughter's Keeper (which is on my bookshelf, waiting to be read -- I've been saving it to avoid running out of Waldman reading material!), I have now read all of Waldman's books, and she is not an author to miss out on.

Red Hook Roa
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 l
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The BA's 30-somet...: Red Hook Road 13 18 Feb 22, 2012 08:55AM  

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Ayelet Waldman is the author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, 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 fig ...more
“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.” 9 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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