Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Happened on Red Hook Road

The mark of a really good novel is that you can’t quit thinking about the characters. Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman is such a book. I discovered this new book while I was listening to Diane Rehm on NPR. The author was interviewed and she read from her book. I was so taken with the interview that I picked up the book.

This is a strange story that begins at a wedding in Maine. The wedding has just ended and the photographer was taking pictures and getting everybody in line. It was a glorious day and everyone was happy. Then the scene shifted to the Wedding reception several miles away. People are milling around in the most festive of settings, drinking and wondering when the young married couple will arrive.

What they do not know is that the limousine that was to take them to the reception was hit by an SUV. This vehicle turned over and landed on top of the limousine crushing it. The groom’s brother was following the limousine in his car and saw the whole thing. The bride and groom and the driver of both vehicles were killed instantly. So while the friends of both families were waiting for the couple they have no idea that they will never make it to the reception.

The author when interviewed said that years ago she read in the paper about this bride and groom that were killed on the way to their reception. She said that thought stuck in her head for years and one day she sat down and wrote the story of the tragedy as she envisioned it.

So this is the story of grief and loss and relationships. The book pits one family against another as they try to hang on to life and work out their grief. We get to know the two mothers, Iris and Jane and their families.

Grace breaks through not with some kind of sappy happy ending--but how grieving people finally come out on the far side of their grief. This is not a pretty story. But it is a powerful story and the author is a splendid writer.

Just reading the first chapter or two about the wedding and those involved and the reception--is worth the price of the book. If you would like to read a story of heartbreak and grace I think you will long remember what happened that sad day on Red Hook Road.

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