Schroder: A Novel is both heartrending and magnificent. The book is a discerning reflection on fatherhood with contemporary issues that will appeal to men and women alike. Eric Kennedy narrates his confession to his estranged wife, explaining the circumstances of kidnapping their daughter for six days.
By falsifying an application to a New Hampshire summer camp, fourteen-year-old Schroder not only rewrites his childhood, but also changes his name to something more New England acceptable—Eric Kennedy. After marrying stunning, deeply moral Laura, their daughter Meadow is born. Happy marriage soon turns to separation, Laura having custody of Meadow. Kennedy deludes himself with dreams of reconciliation even though his visitation rights are consistently diminishing. Eric is caught. He can’t enter a custody battle because there are no records to substantiate his fabricated past. His lawyer advises him to be on the offensive and file for divorce and custody of Meadow. An independent evaluation proves unfavorable toward him.
Eric views his subsequent abduction of six-year-old Meadow as an adventure at Lake George. “This is the first time this year than I haven’t felt like jumping off a bridge.” (p.70) He steals a car and decides to drive to Canada, putting his daughter in the trunk and using his German passport. It dawns on him that he has kidnapped her. Does he return to Albany and face her mother and the consequences of his actions?
Author Amity Gaige began writing at age seven. Her 2005 novel O My Darling won her the distinguished honor of 5 Under 35 by the National Book Foundation. The Folded World, published in 2007, won ForeWord Book of the Year, among numerous other awards. Gaige has also written for O Magazine and The Literary Review.
The special quality of Schroder: a Novel is that it is both offbeat and whimsical, with an alluring main character and premise we should frown upon. Instead we are drawn into a world that Amity Gaige makes irresistible. Although the main character is flawed, Gaige makes you fall in love with him and feel for his pain. I highly recommend the book for any discerning reader’s bookshelf. Schroder will appeal to mainstream fiction readers, but also more sophisticated lovers of literary fiction.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
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