Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Red Hook RoadTitle: Red Hook Road

Author: Ayelet Waldman

Pages: 335 (I have an ARC, so page numbers in the final version may differ)

Source: Publisher

Rating: 6/10

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge; Take Another Chance Challenge (Challenge 11: All in the Family)

Summary (From back of book):

Set on the coast of Maine over the course of four summers, Red Hook Road tells the story of two families, the Tetherleys and the Copakens, and of the ways in which their lives are unraveled and stitched together by misfortune, by good intentions and failure, and by love and calamity.

My Two Cents:

I really didn't have many expectations going into this book, so I can't say I was as "disappointed" as a lot of the reviews I've read are saying. Overall, I liked this book and enjoyed Waldman's writing, but I can't say I loved this book.

Waldman is a fabulous writer. She has a gift for conveying the varied perspectives of different characters on one event. She's also great at describing her setting. In fact, the picture she painted of the area of the Maine coast in which this book is set was probably my favorite part; it made me want to go visit Maine in the summer.

She also has the ability to create some pretty vivid, memorable characters, whether you ultimately like them or not. My favorite character was Mr. Kimmelbrod, the virtuoso violinist and grandfather of the Copaken family. He was devoted to his students and their music, and at times standoffish with his family, but you could tell that deep down, he loved them. I think maybe it was his emotional detachment to the situations presented in the book that allowed me to like him so much, as every other character spent the entire novel so overwrought with emotion and the ghosts of the past.

As much as I enjoyed Waldman's writing and her characters, I felt as if a lot of the plot was just too contrived. There was just too much happenstance in everything going on surrounding the accident that it started to become unbelievable. Also, (nearly all) the characters' unwillingness to move on and dig themselves out of the pit of despair was maddening. I just wanted to scream, "Get on with your lives already!" sometimes.

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