Synopses & Reviews
A lyrical and deeply affecting novel recounting the seven days a father spends on the road with his daughter after kidnapping her during a parental visit.
Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder — a first-generation East German immigrant — adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course.
Schroder relates the story of Eric's urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is. From a correctional facility, Eric surveys the course of his life to understand — and maybe even explain — his behavior: the painful separation from his mother in childhood; a harrowing escape to America with his taciturn father; a romance that withered under a shadow of lies; and his proudest moments and greatest regrets as a flawed but loving father.
Alternately lovesick and ecstatic, Amity Gaige's deftly imagined novel offers a profound meditation on history and fatherhood, and the many identities we take on in our lives — those we are born with and those we construct for ourselves.
"Gaige (The Folded World) revisits the fragility of family life in her newest, based broadly on the Clark Rockefeller child custody kidnapping case. The book written as an apology (in both the Socratic and emotional sense) to the narrator's ex-wife as he awaits trial is quiet and deeply introspective. Erik Schroder was born in East Berlin, but escaped with his father to working-class Boston. Recreating himself as Eric Kennedy, raised in a fictional town by a patrician family, the narrator distances himself from his past to gain entry into American aristocracy. But his marriage based on lies goes sour, and in the midst of the resultant unfavorable custody arrangement, Eric takes his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, on an unsanctioned road trip through New England, seizing the opportunity to reconnect with her, even as he realizes that this idyllic time is as illusory as his past. Although Eric is often unreliable, Gaige conjures a groundswell of sympathy for an otherwise repugnant character. Tender moments of observation, regret, and joy all conveyed in unself-consciously lyrical prose result in a radiant meditation on identity, memory, and familial love and loss. Agent: Wendy Weil, the Wendy Weil Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Agile...transporting...a book that works as both character study and morality play, filled with questions that have no easy answers."
Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Like Nabokov's Humbert Humbert, Schroder is charming and deceptive, likable and flawed, a conman who has a clever way with words. Schroder's tale is deeply engaging, and Gaige's writing is surprising and original, but the real pull of this magnetic novel is the moral ambiguity the reader feels."
People, starred review
"Enthralling....Gaige displays an unnerving insight into the grandiosity and fragility of the middle-aged male ego....Schroder is clearly her breakout book. With its psychological acuity, emotional complexity and topical subject matter, it deserves all the success it can find. I wish there were such a thing as a Divorced Couples Book Club just so we could listen in on the tangled responses."
The Washington Post
"On occasion...a novel will provoke a host of tangled and disconcertingly conflicted reactions-revulsion and affection; blame and understanding; a connection that goes beyond surface sympathy to a deeper, and possibly unwanted, emotional recognition. These were among the things I experienced while reading Amity Gaige's astoundingly good novel Schroder."
The Wall Street Journal
"It's a mark of how good Schroder is that, upon finishing it, I immediately went out and read the rest of her work."
Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
"Daring...a clean, suspenseful, economical story that is also a clever act of social commentary...As a case study of the unreliable narrator, Schroder is beautifully managed....Gaige...is an accomplished writer, and the novel elegantly navigates its ethical razor's edge, brining the reader along on a kind of joyride gone wrong...half sympathy-inducing mea culpa, half a bristling act of bravado and self-ignorance....Novelists like Gaige remind us that we live not in the age of the nineteenth-century marriage plot but in the era of the twenty-first century divorce plot....Gaige writes with a cool strangeness, a strong sense of style...Schroder is by turns dry, peculiar, expansive, and visionary."
Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum
"Gaige's spot-on prose makes this quirky parental drama irresistible."
"A lyrical and poetic novel about the adverse ramifications of a little white lie that follows its teller throughout his life."
O, The Oprah Magazine
"Heartbreaking...could be O My Darling author Amity Gaige's breakout work. Starring a doggedly compelling lead character and Gaige's signature smooth prose, this novel wows with its exacting, subtle grace....She mixes warmth, lovely tenderness and wit with fear and loathing, nakedness and shame, moving her narrative swiftly to an end that hits like a punch in the gut....An engrossing paradox. And Gaige is a talent who deserves attention."
"Brilliantly written....What could be a hackneyed novelistic trope — the confessional letter — is completely transformed in Gaige's sure and insightful hands....Schroder is a haunting look at the extreme desire for love and family, and how the mind can justify that need to possess what it cannot have. Almost, just almost, Schroder has us rooting for him."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The measure of Gaige's great gifts as a storyteller is that she persuades you to believe in a situation that shouldn't be believable, and to love a narrator who shouldn't be lovable. Seldom has such a daring concept for a novel been grounded in such an appealing character."
Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections
"In Schroder, Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania, and logic crabwalks into crime. This offbeat, exquisitely written novel showcases a fresh, forceful young voice in American letters."
Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
"You will not want to put this book down. You will want to read it in one big gulp. This is a bullet of a novel, aimed at our pieties about parenthood and familial love. You won't soon forget Schroder or his daughter or the sentences that bring them to life. To those who know Gaige's first two novels, it's no surprise she's produced another stunner. To those who don't, you're in for a treat."
Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic, and the New York Times best-selling short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here
"Amity Gaige has written a flawless book. It does not contain a single false note. Playful and inventive, Schroder movingly depicts the ways we confound our own hearts — how even with the best intentions, we fail to love those closest to us as well as we wish we could. Eric Schroder should take his place among the most charismatic and memorable characters in contemporary fiction, and Amity Gaige her place among the most talented and impressive writers working today."
David Bezmozgis, prize-winning author of Natasha and Other Stories and The Free World
"Gaige creates a fascinating and complex character in Erik, as he moves from the eccentric and slightly irresponsible father to a desperate man at the end of his rope...[an] expert exploration of the immigrant experience, alienation, and the unbreakable bond between parent and child." Booklist