Reservation Road

I was looking at a list of books that Francine Prose recommends at the back of her Reading Like a Writer. The last one on the list is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Later, I was at Half Price Books and saw Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz. I couldn’t remember Yates’ name and thought Schwartz’s was the one on the list so I bought it. Well, only later did I figure out my mistake. Am I glad about this mixup? I don’t know since I haven’t read the intended book yet, but Reservation Road was a disturbing book that I could not stop reading, even though it was very, very sad from beginning to end.

Schwartz’s book was published in 1998 and was released as a motion picture in 2007. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, and Mira Sorvino. I don’t remember it being in the theatres, but if it was I can see why not too many went to see it—it’s just sad. The book is written from the point of view of a boy’s father, mother, and the perpetrator of the unintentional hit and run accident that killed him. The perpetrator has a son the same age as the boy he killed. Each chapter switched to a different point of view of one of the three narrators. A year passed from the time of the accident until the book ended. I don’t want to give away anymore of the plot, but this book makes the reader pause to reflect on how a few moments in time can make such a difference.

Reservation Road also reminded me of a case in 2001 in Arlington, Texas, where a young woman hit a man on the road and then hid her car in her garage as the man slowly died impaled through her windshield. Reservation Road is about guilt, grief, revenge, and forgiveness.