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Reservation Road | [John Burnham Schwartz]

Reservation Road

At the close of a beautiful day, the Learner family stops at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Ten-year-old Josh is standing at the edge of the road when a car comes racing around the bend. He is hit and instantly killed, and the car speeds away. From this moment, Reservation Road becomes a countdown to the confrontation between two very different men. Behind their stories are those of 8-year-old Emma, who can't stop thinking her brother's death was her fault, and of her mother, Grace.
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Publisher's Summary

Here's 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, Grace, and their children, Josh and Emma - stops at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Josh Learner, lost in a 10-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 10-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 he persists in the belief that he can find the unknown man who killed his son. Behind their stories are those of 8-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. This is an audiobook that sounds 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.

©1998 John Burnham Schwartz; (P)2007 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Schwartz's haunting tale, overflowing with thinly veiled lessons in life, is nothing short of captivating." (Booklist)
"A triumph of form, pacing and power...character-driven as it is, it reads like a thriller, swift and complete." (New York Times)
"Narrating quietly and close to the mike, the readers provide more dimensionality for their roles than the writer has. In short, this is an example of a production that improves upon the book." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (71 )
5 star
 (18)
4 star
 (26)
3 star
 (21)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
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Overall
3.8 (12 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (11 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 06-17-07
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 06-17-07 Member Since 2005

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    102
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    Overall
    "It Had Potential"

    Story line was interesting from the start. The whole book is written in the first person and deals primarily with what each of the characters is feeling about the hit and run accident which killed Ethan and Grace's 10 year old son Josh. You get a bit of what Josh's sister is feeling as well. The other side of the coin is the guy who hit Josh with his car. All the emotions and guilt that he is going through.
    There were 3 different narrators for each of the main characters, so you always know exactly which person is being portrayed at all times. They all did a pretty good job.
    The book didn't come together for me at the end as well as it could have. It had the potential of being far more exciting. The author set the scene so it could have ended any number of ways. Personally, it left me feeling blah.
    I believe they made a movie out of this book and it is coming out in November 2007. I think I'll wait for it to come out on video. I've spent enough on this one.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Fairview, NC, United States 05-03-08
    Bruce Fairview, NC, United States 05-03-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
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    "Grief orgy"

    It's one hour of tragedy, six hours of grief and misery and people mistreating one another (and claiming they simply can't help themselves), and then an hour of not-quite resolution. The audio performances are all strong, but the book is overwritten, repetitious and largely stagnant. A sample: "I paused, like falling into a bottomless pool of sadness." Now imagine 1,000 variations on that sentence. And what do we learn? Loss messes people up, but they may retain just enough humanity to avert complete self-destruction. Grief is presented in endless explication and iteration--all of which may ring true, but that's not reason enough to want to hear it, however impressed the author is with his own language skills. This story could have made a terrific short story--it ends like a short story--but instead it's bloated and glacial. I listened to the whole thing in a few days, expecting always that the plot would kick in at any moment. Finally it does...and then sputters and ends abruptly.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aj Buckeye, AZ, USA 07-30-08
    Aj Buckeye, AZ, USA 07-30-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    1
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    Overall
    "Had me crying on the way to work."

    The use of 3 voices in this recording works extremely well and pulls you right into the heads of each character. I wasn't going to renew my subscription but this book changed my mind.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Xavier Maupin, OR, USA 10-25-07
    Xavier Maupin, OR, USA 10-25-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    15
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    3
    Overall
    "Enthralling from start to finish"

    Not my usual cup of tea, and even dreaded starting it, but the book captivated me from start. All three main characters were intriguingly drawn, and the story had enough suspense to make you want to listen to the next chapter. Only drawback was ending was somewhat predictable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crusader Palm Springs, CA, United States 11-06-11
    Crusader Palm Springs, CA, United States 11-06-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book"

    Very dynamic characters -- they jump right off the page; flawless writing; very entertaining story. Can't wait to read the sequel!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shirley Oakland, TN, United States 04-02-10
    Shirley Oakland, TN, United States 04-02-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    120
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    Overall
    "excitment and thriller, but oh so sad."

    I wish the ending was better and not so sad but the book as a whole was good. Having lost a child myself I felt the grief of these parents but was outraged at the ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 04-14-09
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 04-14-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Liked it, but..."

    I liked the exposition in this novel -- the juxtaposition of the two families who are simultaneously very different yet quite similar. But the ending was, for lack of a better word, lame.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred veenendaalNetherlands 10-05-08
    Fred veenendaalNetherlands 10-05-08 Member Since 2006
    ratings
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    12
    3
    Overall
    "very strong story !!!"

    As father of son, it is a story one you should listen/read. As written beofre, by a fellow reader, you will need time to recover and the story indeed stays with you for a very long time. strongle recommanded if you want to endure the power of your next of kin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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