Book Review:Red Hook Road

Red Hook Road

Ayelet Waldman


352 pages

John Tetherly and Becca Copaken are the golden couple.  They’ve been together for years and they live in the coastal town of Red Hook in Maine.  It’s their wedding day and they are enjoying what should be the best day of their lives.  Tragically, everything changes when the driver of their limo collides with an SUV on a windy stretch of road, killing everyone involved.  Suddenly, Becca and John’s family and friends have gone from celebrating to mourning. 

Becca had grown up in a wealthy family that consisted of her dad, her mom Iris and her younger sister Ruthie, along with her grandfather, Emil Kimmelbrod, a famous violin player, whereas John was raised in Red Hook by a single mother, Ruth, along with his younger brother Matt.  Ruth is a housekeeper and is scornful of the seasonal visitors in Red Hook who are wealthier.  The class divide is an issue for Jane and Iris, despite the fact that their children have just married.  Then their children both die . . . where does that leave them?

Red Hook Road is a look into how different people deal with grief.  Iris tries to reach out to Jane as much as she knows how, not seeming to care that Jane is her ousekeeper, but instead seeing her as John’s mom.  Jane, however, is too proud to befriend Iris, and instead wants to grieve for John on her own.  The relationship between Jane and Iris comes to a head as Emil begins teaching Jane’s niece, whom she take care of, to play the violin.  The niece, Samantha, is a prodigy, and Iris begins to see her hopes and dreams for Becca and Ruthie pinned on the young girl. 

Then you also have a blossoming love affair between Ruthie and Matt, both of whom were hit hard by their sibling’s deaths. They feel like they must hide their relationship from others because the deaths of Becca and John still cast a pall over the town.

Red Hook Road is not a book packed with action.  With the exception of the accident in the first few pages, it is a book of emotions rather than anything else.  If you’re looking for a book that develops effortlessly but is still full of meaning, this book does just that.

Other Reviews:

Booking Mama

Devourer of Books


Book, Line and Sinker

I borrowed this book from my local library.

7 Responses

  1. I thought this book did such a good job of exploring the effects of a tragedy on the survivors.

    Thanks for linking.

  2. I’m reading this soon and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t need action in my books – in fact, the two I’ve just read had plenty – so I think this will be a great change of pace.

  3. Spurred on by your late library loot post, I decided to put this one on hold at my library too! I’ve been intrigued by this one ever since I heard of its release and I really want to read it… I can’t wait!

  4. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one too. Thanks for linking to my review! I really love the last paragraph of your review: it’s so true. I’m looking forward to reading more Waldman too.

  5. Great review! I hadn’t heard of this one but it’s going on my list.

  6. A new author for me. I’m fond of books that delves into the human condition. This sounds like something I can read on a quiet weekend.

  7. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time and I’m glad to hear that it won’t disappoint.

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