Book Review: Schroder by Amity Gaige

SCHRODER by Amity Gaige is about a man who kidnaps his daughter for six days and takes her on a road trip that covers a thousand miles of beautifully described New England countryside and encounters with a number of colorful characters. Along the way he learns that love is neither a reason nor an excuse and that no matter where or how he hides, a man cannot outrun himself. Written as a letter from prison, the narrator’s voice is strong and compelling, sometimes funny and often philosophical.

The divorce in SCHRODER involves a six year old girl caught in a tug of war between her parents, Laura and Eric Kennedy. Except that Eric isn’t really a Kennedy. He assumed that name as a boy, an immigrant from East Germany in the nineteen seventies, hoping it and a completely fabricated life story would get him a scholarship to a summer camp. When the story begins he has been Eric Kennedy for so long and completely that he has almost forgotten his true identity. I found his feat of masquerade a little hard to believe, but I got caught up in the story and was willing to suspend my disbelief.

 

Eric was neither likeable nor admirable. But his pained love for his daughter, Meadow, was so convincing that I understood how what began as an afternoon together morphed into an overnight and then a road trip lasting six days. Part of me wanted them to drive on up into Canada and north to Hudson Bay and never look back. But despite his love for Meadow, Eric is not much of a father because he’s not a whole person. Back in childhood, his sense of self split in two and it is his brokenness that makes Laura end the marriage, his brokenness that makes him selfish, untrustworthy and unable to commit to anything with his whole heart. Not even Meadow.

 

I bought this book in electronic form and am kind of sorry that I did. There are some books I like to see standing up in my bookcase, reminding me of the pleasure they have given me. This is a book I wish I could take down from the shelf and lend to a friend.

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