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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2013
From the moment I picked up this book I knew I was delving into something special. Amity Gaige has a gift with words and with characterisation. How do you make someone who is so irresponsible sympathetic? But that is exactly what Eric Kennedy aka Erik Schroder is. A complex character who loves his daughter so much he risks everything to go on a 'road trip' with her. When we meet him, he is in custody writing an explanation to his former wife in an attempt to put a rational explanation to his reckless action. The document, which he hopes will ease his punishment, becomes an account of his missing days with his daughter and (counter intuitively) they are days that every child should have. We witness the love and quirkiness of their relationship where adult is childlike and the child is more adult. I wanted to slap him every time he did something selfish and crazy and cheer him on every time he did something wonderful. Eric is the reason why his daughter is such a confident original. Old before her time but forgiving in the way only a child can be. Amity Gaige has brought us an amazing tale of love gone wrong. I so want Eric to triumph although I'll never know. But no matter what happens to him, the triumph is Amity's.
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The fashion these days for multi-stranded stories and complex narratives makes this intentionally one-sided and comparatively straightforward novel come across as something quite extraordinary. As indeed it is. Likewise, the trend for novels with big dark secrets buried in the past works slightly differently here; Schroder reveals from the outset what he has been hiding for years.

"It turns out I'm not very good at being silent. There are castles of things I want to tell you." Amity Gaige had me at "castles" and she never loosened her grip once.

Schroder is writing an account of the events that have led him into custody awaiting trial. The account is an explanation to his estranged wife of why he absconded for seven days with their 6-year old daughter, the fiercely intelligent Meadow. This account might also be used in mitigation so just how reliable a narrator this makes him is clearly open to question. In fact, everything about Schroder is open to question - most especially, his identity.

The author's occasional use of footnotes is deft, the narrative structure of the book is perfect and Ms Gaige has a masterful turn-of-phrase: "I was thirty-four - not an old man, but old enough to spy the burnt edges on the scroll of my life." Her description of rain which "grows hard and bitter, as if it is not rain but liquid redistribution of collective conflict". And in a hospital where "the squeegee of officious shoes awakened me". Can't you just hear them?

By the masterstroke of leaving the wife's side of the story untold, Amity Gaige has delivered a wholly brilliant read.
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on 12 March 2013
Reading Mags' review above, I can add little to that concise and beautifully put paragraph. This book is a jewel - special in every sentence and idea.
I started to read it when a bit tired and when it quickly dawned on me how capable Gaige's writing is, I started again from the beginning but only reading it when fresh and able to fully appreciate it's subtlety.
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on 10 October 2015
I enjoyed this book. I felt sympathy and frustration with the narrator and main character Schroder. He behaves like an irresponsible idiot but I couldn't help liking him . Beautiful characterization and a plot that kept me reading. Recommended.
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on 1 December 2013
I read this over the summer and didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I didn't find the characters all that convincing, and I felt less and less inclined to follow the main character through his (bad) choices, as the narrative progressed. Wasn't sure in the end what the writer intended; who was I meant to connect with, if anyone?
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on 12 March 2014
I chose this book because it made a change to read about a dad's relationship with his daughter and to some extent it didn't disappoint in this respect. The book is written in the first person by Eric Schroder/Kennedy and the characterisation of Eric is such that you forget that the book is written by a female author. The book raises a lot of interesting ideas about lies; whether solicitors ever actually help in a custody battle; the beauty of silences; what constitutes kidnapping (Eric suggests he didn't kidnap his daughter he just took her on an "adventure". Eric doesn't come across as a great parent (or even a good one) and perhaps that is why I struggled with him. Give it a go and see what you think - its an easy read.
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on 31 August 2013
The heartbreaking story of a marriage gone wrong and a terrible warning for the absent parent not to take matters into their own hands. The protagonist has made some serious mistakes and part of me wanted to shake him for his lack of foresight but nevertheless he is an engaging character and the love that exists between him and his daughter shines out.
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on 28 January 2015
In order to like this book, you probably have to have some sympathy with Schroder, the man who abducts his child, and I had none. I think the author intends him to be in some way appealing, but she did not succeed in making me feel anything for him except annoyance. Amity Gaige did not convince me of his affection for the child whose life he endangered and did not paint a believable portrait of a man with mental health issues. I'm unclear about her intentions; the book does highlight the vulnerability of children at the hands of adults, but I didn't find that her use of Schroder's viewpoint opened up any new understandings.
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on 8 May 2013
This book is a long confession by the protagonist, Schroder. The way it is written is very compelling and kept me interested and curious till the end. There's a lot of psychology in the narration: we enter Schroder's mind and understand the reasons behind his decisions and actions throughout his life not only in the more recent time preceding the writing of his confession.
I thought it was an interesting and unusual idea for a book and it is well written.
My only disappointment came from a few discrepancies I noticed regarding the age of the protagonist and of his daughter. He is both (a) 14 in 1984 (pag. 3) and (b) 26 in 1994 (pag. 263). In other words he was born either in 1969/70 (a) or 1967/1968 (b) which, although close, is not precise as you would expect. Also, at page 106, when he is 34 (2003/04 if (a) or 2001/02 if (b)) his daughter is 18 months; however, in the same page, in 2009 (when therefore he should be either 38/40 if (a) or 41/42 if (b) his daughter is 3. That would mean that when she was 18 months he would have been at least 36/37 and not 34. She wouldn't even have been born when he was 34. It might be a minor detail for some readers but I personally expect an author to be precise, accurate and consistent with dates so that the story is credible even if it is fictional.
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on 8 June 2014
It looked promising. The review quotes sounded good. However, ultimately it was not very believable for me and I was skipping quite a lot towards the end, especially the phrase written consecutively over several pages. It began well but sort of faded out and I felt relieved the little girl was taken into safety.
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