Synopses & Reviews
A riveting novel of feeling and suspense in which grief and punishment become tragically intertwined.
At the close of a beautiful summer day near the quiet Connecticut town where they live, the Learner family Ethan and Grace, their children, Josh and Emma stop at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Josh Learner, lost in a ten-year-old's private world, is standing at the edge of the road when a car comes racing around the bend. He is hit and instantly killed. The car speeds away.
From this moment forward, Reservation Road becomes a harrowing countdown to the confrontation between two very different men. The hit-and-run driver is a small-town lawyer named Dwight Arno, a man in desperate need of a second chance. Dwight is also the father of a ten-year-old boy, who was asleep in the car the night Josh Learner was killed. Now Dwight must decide whether to run from his crime or to pay the price for what he did. Ethan Learner, a respected professor of literature at a small New England college, has seen his orderly world shattered in a single moment, yet persists in the belief that he can find the unknown man who killed his son. Behind their stories are those of eight-year-old Emma, who can't stop thinking her brother's death was her fault, and of Grace, who must find the strength to keep herself and her family together, and to be the mother Emma so badly needs.
In a gripping narrative woven from the voices of Ethan, Dwight, and Grace, Reservation Road tells the story of two ordinary families facing an extraordinary crisis a book that reads like a thriller but opens up a world rich with psychological nuance and emotional wisdom. Reservation Road explores the terrain of grief even as it astonishes with unexpected redemption: powerful and wrenching and impossible to put down.
"Spellbinding...a haunting tale." Booklist
"A poignant thriller...quietly breathtaking...a suspenseful literary novel." Vanity Fair
"A pleasure to read. Suspense is redefined here." Newsday
"A lovely book, full of life and feeling." Peter Matthiessen
"[A] beautiful novel. An important novel." New York Observer
A cycle of violence and retribution is set in motion as two haunted men are engulfed by the emotions surrounding an unexpected and horrendous death.
Ethan, a respected professor at a small New England college, is wracked by an obsession for revenge that threatens to tear his family apart. Dwight, fleeing his crime yet hoping to get caught, wrestles with overwhelming guilt and his sense of obligation to his son. As these two men's lives unravel, Reservation Road moves to its startling conclusion.
A New York Times
Notable Book of the Year
"A dark and irresistible miracle: a heartbreaking thriller."--Los Angeles Times
"Haunting. . . . A powerful and affecting novel."--The New York Times
A tragic accident sets in motion a cycle of violence and retribution in John Burnham Schwartz's riveting novel Reservation Road. Two haunted men and their families are engulfed by the emotions surrounding an unexpected and horrendous death. Ethan, a respected professor of literature at a small New England college, is wracked by an obsession with revenge that threatens to tear his family apart. Dwight, a man at once fleeing his crime and hoping to get caught, wrestles with overwhelming guilt and his sense of obligation to his son. As these two men's lives unravel, Reservation Road moves to its startling conclusion. This is an astonishing tale of love and loss, rage and redemption, that is as suspenseful as it is emotionally compelling.
"Thrums with suspense and moral ambiguity. . . . This is one of those rare--very rare--novels that you don't so much read as inhabit and that makes everyday life seem altogether mysterious." --Entertainment Weekly
"A triumph . . . character-driven as it is, it reads like a thriller, swift and complete."--The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
John Burnham Schwartz is the author of Bicycle Days, Reservation Road, and Claire Marvel, all of which have been translated into more than ten languages. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, and Vogue. He lives with his wife, filmmaker Aleksandra Crapanzano, in Brooklyn, New York.