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Schroder: A Novel by Amity Gaige
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Schroder: A Novel (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Amity Gaige

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2291451,069 (3.75)19
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Title:Schroder: A Novel
Authors:Amity Gaige
Info:Twelve (2013), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Schroder by Amity Gaige (2013)

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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A moving novel, in the form of a first person confession by a father who kidnaps his six year old daughter from his estranged wife, goes on the run for about a week and (eerily given the timing) is finally caught in a manhunt in Boston.

As a father of a 6 year-old (and, like the narrator, born in 1970--although the similarities end there given his East German birth, general fraudulence, and estrangement from his wife), I found Eric Kennedy's relationship with his daughter believable, touching, and painful--as he struggles with how to engage with her and then only finally figures it out in their last hours together before his arrest.

The narrative voice was also well done, with a resoundingly authentic and earnest but not always fully self-aware recounting of a less than authentic life. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Eric Kennedy has been arrested for kidnapping his five-year old daughter Meadow and endangering her life in the process of hiding out from authorities. We learn through Eric's explanatory letter to his ex-wife about the days that Meadow was with him and why he did it that he is in fact Eric Schroder, a German immigrant who arrived with his father from East Berlin in the sixties and invented Eric Kennedy as a way of being accepted at summer camp one summer. His whole life is revealed as fantasy supplemented with alcohol. He has little knowledge or insight into himself, but believes that he truly and completely loves his daughter, although his judgement is not the best or his behaviour. Interesting topic and approach to it. ( )
  CarterPJ | Nov 15, 2013 |
This book was ridiculous. The footnotes were ridiculous, the voice of the main character was ridiculous, his nonsensical chatter was ridiculous. The only thing that was somewhat enjoyable about the book was Meadow, the main character's daughter. She was smart, sassy, and the only well drawn character in this whole mess. Despite her, and the fact that the book goes by really fast, I still only give this book one star and recommend it to no one. ( )
  lisan. | Oct 4, 2013 |
"I have told stories, in fact, that were elaborate-you could say-fictions, and although these fictions were not meant to defraud or to injure, I always knew-I knew in fact-that they would."

The book is narrated by Eric Kennedy as an apology letter to his estranged wife Laura, after being put in jail for abducting their daughter Meadow during a regular supervised parental visit. They were deeply in love before, but sometime during their marriage, like 50% of other marriages in the US, it fell apart. He then lost custody of the person he loves most. During that particular visit, Eric suddenly had a spontaneous urge to spend more time with Meadow, whom he deeply loves. He decided to take her for a prolonged trip, without consulting his wife Laura, who would have just said no to the request anyway. The complicated part is, Eric Kennedy was not a man he claimed he was, so the deceit was much more than a simple prolonged visit.

Eric's real name was Eric Schroder. He emigrated from East Germany with his Father when young. He had a harsh childhood that he has been trying desperately to forget. During a summer when he was applying for a prestige summer camp, he changed his last name to Kennedy. He got in. The name also got him into college with scholarship. When he met Laura, he was still a Kennedy who grew up somewhere near Hyannis Port. After marrying Laura, to protect his identity that he loved so much, he decided to stop visiting his Father.

From the first few pages of the book, we knew all about Eric and everything I mentioned above. We knew how the book was going to end and how unlikable Eric is. We knew that he was caught, thus the apology letter. We also knew that Eric was an emotionally non-existent husband, an unreliable Father, a pathological liar. He leaps before he thinks; he had no concern about anybody else but himself. Knowing the plot ahead of time, the fact that I actually finished the book, and gave it 5-stars, indicates how brilliantly this book was written.

This book falls into the strange book category that I can't classify simply, which includes [b:The Death of Bees|15818333|The Death of Bees|Lisa O'Donnell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358353202s/15818333.jpg|18334314], [b:Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See|13573378|Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See|Juliann Garey|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349395507s/13573378.jpg|19154353], and [b:Where'd You Go, Bernadette|12611253|Where'd You Go, Bernadette|Maria Semple|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337700112s/12611253.jpg|17626728]: brilliant writing, unforgettable characters and even thought-provoking questions. Since this whole book is narrated in Eric’s voice, one could only understand the other characters from glimpses in his narration, which is unreliable since he’s a liar. However, we did understand Laura’s frustration when he described his life with her. We knew Meadow is exceptionally intelligent from his conversations with his daughter. We got how irresponsible, unreliable, lack of common sense, extremely self-absorbed, spontaneous, unpredictable Eric is. The strange part is, due to the talented writing, we somehow started rooting for him or rather, his voice, regardless of all his faults. We found his love for his wife and daughter genuine, his pain substantial, his lies…somewhat understandable. His narration was so powerful that sometimes the readers need a break to recuperate from their emotions. We even found him brilliant in his study of “pauses.”

”I’ve always been fascinated by – and uncomfortable with – pauses. My research forced me to see that short pockets of silence were everywhere and that even sound needs silence in order to be sound. There are tiny silences all over this page. Between paragraphs. Between these very words. Still, they can be lonesome. So for all my project’s shortcomings, I’d say the worst is that I haven’t shaken the lonesome feeling that pauses give me. Sometimes I still wish there weren’t any silences at all. And so it is with some reluctance that I give you this one.”

The author did an awesome job on this wonderfully and beautifully written book. I don’t normally re-read books, but I might re-read this one just to roll those words and phrases on my tongue again.

Note: I did not hear about the comparison of this story to the real story of the con man Clark Rockefeller until I finished the book. I think [b:The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor|10263986|The Man in the Rockefeller Suit The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor|Mark Seal|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311281812s/10263986.jpg|15164363] may be a great next read! ( )
  lovestampmom | Aug 8, 2013 |
The story -- told in sort of a memoir/accounting of time -- of a dad who goes off the deep end during his divorce (and limited visitation rights) and takes (some say kidnaps) his daughter on a week-long adventure/vacation. More interestingly, the novel is written by a woman. Overall, I found it an enjoyable read, though frustrating at times. There are some interesting twists and turns, but it's hard to root for a guy who is a bit clueless -- and who punishes his soon to be ex-wife by not contacting her while he has their daughter. ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Jul 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Gaige creates a fascinating and complex character in Erik, as he moves from the eccentric and slightly irresponsible father to a desperate man at the end of his rope. While the novel’s format occasionally lends itself to overly dramatic prose, this does not take away from its warmth and expert exploration of the immigrant experience, alienation, and the unbreakable bond between parent and child.
added by DorsVenabili | editBooklist, Kerri Price (pay site) (Nov 1, 2012)
 
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Ensconced in a correctional facility at the height of a custody battle with his estranged wife, Eric, a first-generation East German immigrant who changed his name as a youth, surveys his life to consider the disparity between his original and assumed identities.… (more)

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