Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book 3: Reservation Road

"There are heroes, and there are the rest of us. There comes a time when you just let go the ghost of the better person you might have been.” 

Dates read: October 15-18, 2015

Rating: 3/10

So along with my unquenchable appetite for books, I'm also a voracious movie-watcher. I remember seeing a trailer for the movie version of Reservation Road at some point, deciding it looked sad but interesting, and throwing it on my Netflix queue (where it lingered for a long time because I was constantly pushing up more interesting-looking things). And then when I came across a cheap used copy of the book, I bought it and figured that I might as well read it, because the book is always better, right?

Well, after reading the book, the movie has come off my Netflix queue entirely. Because if the book is better, I can't take the movie. I knew it was going to be depressing going in based on what I knew about the plot: a young boy is killed in a hit-and-run car accident, and that accident has powerful reverberations on everyone involved. Obviously anything dealing with child death is going to be difficult material, but I used to read those Lurlene McDaniel books about teenagers with cancer on the regular, so surely I could handle it.

Turns out, not really. Not because it was too emotionally charged, but because it was boring and uncentered. The story is told in rotating chapters, varying perspective between Dwight (the driver that hits and kills ten year-old Josh), Ethan (Josh's father), and Grace (Josh's mother). The novel doesn't spend enough sustained time with any of the characters to really dig into them more than on a surface level: Dwight feels guilty, but not enough so to jeopardize his relationship with his own ten year-old son by turning himself in; Ethan feels impotent rage at his powerlessness in the situation, and Grace just withdraws from everything. I did find myself wondering why Grace was written in the third person while the men were written in the first person. Did Schwartz not feel comfortable writing first-person perspective for a woman? Is it supposed to be symbolic of her emotional deadening with grief, that she doesn't even have the willpower to view herself as the center of her own story anymore? I'm honestly not sure. None of the characters grows or changes, everyone just stays stuck in their patterns. Which is probably realistic, I can't even imagine what the process of mourning the loss of a child would be like and hope I never have to know. But it doesn't make for enjoyable or even very interesting reading.

Tell me, blog friends...what books that you enjoy are kind of depressing? Are there any subjects you won't read about it because they're too much?

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