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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting atmosphere and beautiful writing
Originally reviewed at: booksbiscuitsandtea.co.uk
Rating: 4 out of 5 biscuits

The reason why I wanted to pick this book up -apart from the fact that the story seemed very interesting and I've always loved thrillers/mysteries - is that it seemed different. I love books that are narrated by more than one person so the idea that Reservation Road is told by...
Published on 15 July 2012 by Vicky @ Books, Biscuits, and Tea

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No unreserved endorsement
Reservation Road is billed as a thriller and if this is what you are looking for, don't get it, because that is not what it is. I kept waiting for the killer to go on the prowl, for terrible night scenes to emerge, for a cliff-hanger of a multi-sided chase. There is nothing of the sort. John Burnham Schwartz is being short-changed by his reviews and book cover, which...
Published on 26 April 2012 by reader 451


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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting atmosphere and beautiful writing, 15 July 2012
This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
Originally reviewed at: booksbiscuitsandtea.co.uk
Rating: 4 out of 5 biscuits

The reason why I wanted to pick this book up -apart from the fact that the story seemed very interesting and I've always loved thrillers/mysteries - is that it seemed different. I love books that are narrated by more than one person so the idea that Reservation Road is told by not one but three different people who, even though they don't know each other at first, are connected has definitely piqued my interest. And how glad I am that I did pick this up! Not only is it a beautifully written story with a haunting atmosphere but it is something that makes you think and will definitely stay with you for a long time.

Reservation Road ticks every box: sophisticated and beautiful writing which grabs your attention from the very first page, everyday, vulnerable characters in a situation which could easily happen to anyone, haunting atmosphere and thought-provoking plot. It's brilliant how well Schwartz works with three so different people and how he manages to create three entirely different narratives. He describes the life of a divorced lawyer just as well as the innocence of an eight-year-old girl or what the dead boy's family is going through.

Even though the plot might seem like a "regular" mystery with a hit-and-run and the police trying to catch the criminal, lots of action and chasing down people, it's entirely different. It rather focuses on what the family and the driver are going through after the accident, how the family is dealing with grief and loss and whether they can be "normal" again. It describes how they live under the same roof, together but still separate, their family gradually falling apart. In Reservation Road Schwartz created a story where you don't know which one of them you should feel sorry for. They've all been through a lot for different reasons and the guilty one's life is just as messed up as the innocents'.

Although it's not an easy read and it can be quite slow-paced at times but if you pick it up I'm sure it will make you think and stay with you for a long time. The ending is absolutely fantastic and I have to disagree with everyone who says it should have been stronger - I'm glad it wasn't and after everything they've been through, this
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jewel in the Amazon, 30 Oct. 2008
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
Late one summer night as a family of four stop for a rest on their drive home, ten-year-old Josh, standing near the edge of unlit Reservation Road, is hit by a speeding car and killed. The driver does not stop. So begins a story told from the individual points of view of the three adults involved: the mother, and in particular, the two fathers: one who has just lost his son, and the other with a history of abusing his estranged son . Each one struggles with their own unique emotions as they try to come to terms with their loss, and their guilt.

Each chapter is entitled any of Ethan, Grace or Dwight. In the case of the two fathers the narrative is expressed in the first-person, while Grace's turmoil is told in the third-person perspective. Ethan Learner is an English teacher and academic, his wife Grace is a garden designer and Dwight Arno, who lives alone as a divorcee, is a lawyer specialising in estate management and will-writing. Ethan and Grace have an eight-year-old daughter named Emma, while Dwight has a son named Sam - like the late Josh also ten years old - who lives with Dwight's re-married ex-wife Ruth. The time span of about three months intimately captures the stresses, strains and agonies of the distraught Learner family - Emma included - interspersed with equally illuminating insights into the emotional conflicts going on in the mind of Dwight.

From cover to cover this is an intense and meticulous character study of a standard I am not sure I have witnessed before. It is an exceptionally well-written story, without doubt one of the finest you are likely to find for sale on Amazon. It was written in 1998 but I knew nothing of it until my attention was drawn to the film of the same title that has recently been released on DVD, although I have not seen it. I simply cannot think of a single novel I have ever read that has been crafted with such exquisite care and attention to detail. This is truly a story that you will love for the journey as much as the destination, and it is not over-stating the point to suggest that almost any sentence from first page to last could be extracted and used as a quotation to illustrate its beauty. To do it justice, I would just have to quote every word. Mention must therefore be made of the person or people responsible for editing the manuscript, because it has been carried out to perfection. Although it is not a long story at less than 300 pages, it is so rich in its tapestry, so consummate in prose and poetic in delivery, that it probably contains more meaning and imagery than a tale two or three times its length.

Flawless from beginning to end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No unreserved endorsement, 26 April 2012
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
Reservation Road is billed as a thriller and if this is what you are looking for, don't get it, because that is not what it is. I kept waiting for the killer to go on the prowl, for terrible night scenes to emerge, for a cliff-hanger of a multi-sided chase. There is nothing of the sort. John Burnham Schwartz is being short-changed by his reviews and book cover, which bring up the wrong expectations in his reader. For this reason, I am giving the book three, not just two stars.

This is actually a book about parenting, broken families, and the tragedy of losing a child. Dwight, at the beginning of the novel, kills the ten-year-old son of Ethan and Grace in a hit-and-run accident. While the bereaved parents do try to find out who committed the crime, the rest of the book really describes their attempt to cope. Meanwhile, Dwight is divorced and has a son of about the same age, who was also in the car. And the difficulty is that they all live in the same small-town community. What saves the book is that it is written earnestly and without pomposity, if without polish either. This works for what it is, though it is hardly a page turner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reservation Road, 26 Dec. 2012
By 
Lucybird (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
This review was originally posted at Lucybird's Book Blog. I was sent the book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Reservation Road was less of a thriller than I had really expected from the synopsis. There was a certain element of one man trying to find his son's killer, and another man trying to hide, but that was only a very minor element of the story when it came down to it. In fact the synopsis made me want to read the book less than I would have if it was presented in the way I read it.

This was a story of loss, and of love. Initially the loss of Josh and how it effects his family- particularly his parents. You can really imagine how his parents may feel, and although you see different perspectives from the family they don't really hold together, which increases the sense that the family are falling apart, individually and as a unit. Sometimes I found myself almost wanting to shout at them to get their acts together because being able to see inside all their thoughts made you know that they could help each other if they tried. Indeed that they had the capacity to help one-another.

On the other side you see Dwight. A man terrified of loosing his own son who he as just started establishing a new relationship with after some time in prison and a split from his son's mother. Dwight is so scared that something will go wrong, and he searches for love from his son. I think that is part of the reason that he drove on after hitting Josh- he fears he will loose his son all over again. It was quite clever how Burham Schwartz made you feel sympathetic for Dwight rather than angry at him for hiding. I think I preferred the story of Josh's family, but Dwight's story was compelling enough to want to read.

Corsair have also sent me the sequel to Reservation Road (Northwest Corner) to review. I am unsure of how wise a sequel is as Reservation Road feels like a stand-alone novel, however I am interested to see.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale of loss and disintegration, 11 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Reservation Road (Hardcover)
One of those rare novels which lodges itself deep in the memory to be recalled long after other books have been forgotten. Reservation Road is a lonely highway somewhere among sprawling respectable suburbia. One night on this particular stretch of road just by the gas station, tragedy strikes. The lives of two families are then changed - irrevocably. This one event then permeates every waking moment in the lives of two men who at first appear quite different but as events unfold have quite alot in common. The author paints a harrowing picture of loss and emptiness and does so by drawing the readers attention to the minutiae of family life in small-town America.
The everyday activities which fill the lives of these families are depicted here in fine detail, but brushed over with a wash coloured by the events of that terrible night. The writer highlights the frailty of the 'everyday-get-along' persona and how this can disintegrate alarmingly in the face of tragedy. The darker primordial impulses then surface and do their work...
Many novels deal with these themes but Schwartz's brilliant narrative draws the reader's attention to the alienation present in American suburbia: that lonely stretch of road is returned to again and again and provides the dark core of the novel around which the two men and their families inevitably spiral.
Reservation Road is one of the best novels I have read in the last ten years or so. An example of contemporary American fiction at its very best - highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale of loss and disintegration, 11 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Reservation Road (Hardcover)
One of those rare novels which lodges itself deep in the memory to be recalled long after other books have been forgotten. Reservation Road is a lonely highway somewhere among sprawling respectable suburbia. One night on this particular stretch of road just by the gas station, tragedy strikes. The lives of two families are then changed - irrevocably. This one event then permeates every waking moment in the lives of two men who at first appear quite different but as events unfold have quite alot in common. The author paints a harrowing picture of loss and emptiness and does so by drawing the reader's attention to the minutiae of family life in small-town America.
The everyday activities which fill the lives of these families are depicted here in fine detail, but brushed over with a wash coloured by the events of that terrible night. The writer highlights the frailty of the 'everyday-get-along' persona and how this can disintegrate alarmingly in the face of tragedy. The darker primordial impulses then surface and do their work...
Many novels deal with these themes but Schwartz's brilliant narrative draws the reader's attention to the alienation present in American suburbia: that lonely stretch of road is returned to again and again and provides the dark core of the novel around which the two men and their families inevitably spiral.
Reservation Road is one of the best novels I have read in the last ten years or so. An example of contemporary American fiction at its very best - highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply human and authentic, 29 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Reservation Road (Kindle Edition)
This novel is not for crime, action thriller or other fast-paced fiction lovers. It's not a courtroom drama either. It's a shattering reality told in three different voices, and even if the characters are not designed as heroic or in any way characters to make true friends with, they are deeply human. All three are just normal people at different stages in their lives. They have suffered and will keep suffering from a reality no one can change. And there authenticity kicks in: where the heroes in a TV show overcome the strain with a smile, here the characters go through with it as if in reality. Because you cannot cut real life experience short.
The ending is deeply human, too: neither of the men opt for the worse. Eventually, common sense and a sense of human generosity prevails. There is no consolation, but this deeply human notion of Ethan's last sentence to Dwight is more moving than anything for in it the notion of mere revenge is overcome by a father's true devotion to a son, and to the care a son needs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Do read it....., 31 Aug. 2012
By 
L. G. Webber "Lesley" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
I was lucky enough to receive this very unusual book through a Kindle daily deal . A tragedy written through four characters and written so cleverly that one doesn't lose the thread and the author manages to keep situations suspended right to the end.. similar vein to Anne Tyler in the way your mind travels to America and creates vivid pictures ..I actually pictured the gas station in one of Hoppers paintings..a kind of desolation. Just learnt that there is a followup NorthWest Corner so that will be my next read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Brilliant!, 5 Aug. 2008
By 
Big Bertha (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
Really loved this book.
Tragedy strikes one night on a back road. One father Dwight is driving his son home in a rush trying to get home in time for the game. The other father Ethan, watching his son at a gas station as he wanders perilously close to the kerb. It was an accident but a child is killed. Dwight makes that split second decision and doesn't stop.
As the story unfolds you see the two parents, one racked with guilt, living constantly with the fear that he's going to be caught. The other parent trying to hold his family together as it's all falling apart.

Great stuff and certainly kept me up reading half the night!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to read in one sitting., 4 Feb. 2000
This review is from: Reservation Road (Paperback)
Have you ever held a book in your hands and imagined you can feel its brilliance glow through its cover? I swear that I felt that with this book and I wasn't disappointed. John Burnham Schwartz paints a vivid picture of loss, of guilt and of revenge. A book that makes you want to hold your children close. I'd recommend this book to anyone who has a heart...
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Reservation Road
Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz (Paperback - 3 May 2012)
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