Reservation Road

  • by John Burnham Schwartz
  • Narrated by various
  • 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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

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.
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- Bruce

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-29-2007
  • Publisher: Books on Tape