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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Northwest Corner

John Burnham Schwartz has been on my reading list for a long time, so when Northwest Corner became available on my Kindle through the library I jumped at the chance to read this.

Twelve years after he hits a young boy and flees from the scene, Dwight has served his time and settled into a new life in California with very little contact with his old life--including his family. Until, that is, the day his college-age son shows up in his home after almost beating a fellow student to death with a baseball bat. Soon Dwight's ex-wife, the mother of his child, joins them. Together they must figure out how to function in their new reality.

I haven't yet read Reservation Road which has been on my list forever, but I didn't need to read it in order to catch up with the details of this book. Schwartz writes it as if the reader knows nothing of Dwight's past, so you can pick this up before or after Road.

This was such a beautiful book. It is written from different character perspectives and I felt that lent itself to a more 360 degree view of the situation at hand. These characters struggle with their own inner demons: Dwight with his acceptance of the past yet the desire to reconnect with his family; Ruth, his ex-wife, with her choices and a chronic illness; Sam, their son, who struggles with his own mind and his own rage; Emma, Sam's sometimes-fling and brother of the boy his father killed, with her own family unit breakdown and unclear understanding of these dynamics. It's twisty and winding but still so simple and clear--life is so complicated yet so simple.

I enjoyed sitting down and entering into the world of these people for a short time. I watched them struggle, fall, and then get back up and learn to grow again. It's a never ending process, this growing as a human being, and learning that in and of itself is a step forward. Schwartz is a languid writer who stays even-keeled in his prose. I loved it; it felt like laying on the stern of a boat on a bright, warm afternoon and just letting the waves rock me. Stories such as this are a gift.


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