Reviews for Schroder

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
In a letter to his estranged wife, Erik Schroder pleads for mercy and understanding, as he attempts to explain the recent, unsanctioned trip he has taken with his young daughter, Meadow. Woven throughout the novel is Erik's personal history. Originally from East Germany, during his teenage years Erik becomes convinced that he does not fit in with his peer group and creates a new, Americanized identity, calling himself Eric Kennedy. This ruse lasts for many years, through college, a marriage, a semisuccessful career, and fatherhood. However, in the midst of a heated custody battle, Erik slowly becomes unhinged and makes a grave mistake that results in the unraveling of his elaborate secret. 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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 February
An elegant tale of kidnapping

Schroder, the heartbreaking tale of a man who kidnaps his 6-year-old daughter, could be O My Darling author Amity Gaige’s breakout work. Starring a doggedly compelling lead character and Gaige’s signature smooth prose, this novel wows with its exacting, subtle grace.

Erik Schroder has not been known by that name since he was 14. An East German immigrant bullied in the tenements of 1980s Boston, he reinvented himself as “Eric Kennedy” in high school. But when his marriage falls apart and he loses his custody rights, the lie on which Eric’s life is built may prove his final undoing. Depressed and desperate for more time with his daughter, he proposes a road trip during a scheduled visit, and the unflappable Meadow is game. So begins a weeklong sally into rural New England that reveals the erratic parenting that made Eric’s ex nervous in the first place. But it also displays the special bond between him and the intelligent Meadow. As the authorities close in, Eric, cornered by his fraudulent identity, must face the fact that he could lose his beloved daughter forever—and, in the process, his entire constructed self.

Written as a confession to his wife, Schroder is Eric’s chronicle of his crimes and a poignant ode to his lost love. He utterly adored Laura—their breakup still stumps him—and Gaige’s elucidation of his bewildered pain is cutting. Meanwhile, he is confused by his own errors as a parent. Is he a bad father? What makes a good parent? His flaws, concurrent with his obvious love for Meadow, make us question our own judgments, decisions and delusions. A lost man, Eric Kennedy is falling apart, the ghosts of his past coming to claim him.

Gaige presents this weighty tale with enigmatic grace: This is a sad story, with multiple layers, carried on sentences light as air. She mixes warmth, lovely tenderness and wit with fear and loathing, nakedness and shame, moving her narrative swiftly to an end that hits like a punch in the gut.

Schroder, like its namesake, is an engrossing paradox. And Gaige is a talent who deserves attention.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
A man's collapsed marriage and growing madness imperils his young daughter in this bracing third novel by Gaige (The Folded World, 2007, etc.). Narrator Eric Kennedy makes clear early on that he's done something very wrong: At the behest of his lawyers, he's writing his ex-wife to explain why he disappeared with their six-year-old daughter, Meadow, for a week. Like many unreliable narrators before him, he's bathing in narcissism and has a hard time facing facts, but Gaige makes the discovery process at once harrowing and fascinating. Eric escaped from East Germany with his father as a child and changed his name (from Erik Schroder, hence the title). As an adult, he was a caring husband and father, but his erratic behavior (like keeping a dead fox in the backyard as a kind of science project for Meadow) sunk the marriage, and his limited visitation rights prompted him to effectively kidnap Meadow and take her on an extended tour of upstate New York and New England. Abductors are hard to make sympathetic, but Gaige potently renders the embittered fun-house logic of a man who's lost his bearings. ("There was nothing in our parental agreement that said I couldn't drive around the outskirts of Albany at high speeds.") Gaige is interested in what widens and closes the gaps in our personalities between the past and present, madness and sanity, and she expertly works the theme like an accordion player until the climax, when Meadow is truly endangered, and Eric has a moment of clarity. The concluding plot turns are bluntly deus ex machina, and some characters, such as the aging muse for an '80s pop hit, hit the split personality theme in an obvious way, but overall the storytelling is remarkably poised. Smart, comic, unsettling, yet strangely of a piece--not unlike its disarming lead character. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
First-generation East German immigrant Erik Schröder renames himself Erik Kennedy, an act that proves fateful decades later when he holes up with his daughter during a pitched custody battle with his estranged wife. From a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Outstanding Emerging Novelist; booming in-house enthusiasm. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #4

Gaige (The Folded World) revisits the fragility of family life in her newest, based broadly on the Clark Rockefeller child custody kidnapping case. The book--written as an apology (in both the Socratic and emotional sense) to the narrator's ex-wife as he awaits trial--is quiet and deeply introspective. Erik Schroder was born in East Berlin, but escaped with his father to working-class Boston. Recreating himself as Eric Kennedy, raised in a fictional town by a patrician family, the narrator distances himself from his past to gain entre into American aristocracy. But his marriage--based on lies--goes sour, and in the midst of the resultant unfavorable custody arrangement, Eric takes his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, on an unsanctioned road trip through New England, seizing the opportunity to reconnect with her, even as he realizes that this idyllic time is as illusory as his past. Although Eric is often unreliable, Gaige conjures a groundswell of sympathy for an otherwise repugnant character. Tender moments of observation, regret, and joy--all conveyed in unself-consciously lyrical prose--result in a radiant meditation on identity, memory, and familial love and loss. Agent: Wendy Weil, the Wendy Weil Agency. (Feb.)

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