Summary and book reviews of Schroder by Amity Gaige

Schroder

By Amity Gaige

Schroder
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2013,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2013,
    288 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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About this Book

Book Summary

Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder - a first-generation East German immigrant - adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course.

Schroder relates the story of Eric's urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is. From a correctional facility, Eric surveys the course of his life to understand - and maybe even explain - his behavior: the painful separation from his mother in childhood; a harrowing escape to America with his taciturn father; a romance that withered under a shadow of lies; and his proudest moments and greatest regrets as a flawed but loving father.

Alternately lovesick and ecstatic, Amity Gaige's deftly imagined novel offers a profound meditation on history and fatherhood, and the many identities we take on in our lives - those we are born with and those we construct for ourselves.

Excerpt
Schroder

What follows is a record of where Meadow and I have been since our disappearance.

My lawyer says I should tell the whole story. Where we went, what we did, who we met, etc. As you know, Laura, I'm not a reticent person. I'm talkative—you could even say chatty—for a man. But I haven't spoken a word for days. It's a vow I've taken. My mouth tastes old and damp, like a cave. It turns out I'm not very good at being silent. There are castles of things I want to tell you. Which might explain the enthusiasm of this document, despite what you could call its sad story.

My lawyer also says that this document could someday help me in court. So it's hard not to also think of this as a sort of plea, not just for your mercy, but also for that of a theoretical jury, should we go to trial. And in case the word jury sounds exciting to you (it did to me, for a second), I've since learned that a jury gets all kinds of things wrong, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Have you ever told a lie that grew beyond your control? What did you decide to do when the lie became more than you could handle?

  2. Schroder is written as a confessional letter from Eric to his wife, Laura. Have you ever written a confession? About what and to whom?

  3. In the novel, Eric tells his first lie when he is five years old. Do you remember your first lie or a time when you witnessed a young child lie? Why do you think you—or the child you witnessed—told this lie?

  4. If you could change something about your family history, what would it be?

  5. Which famous family might you pretend to be part of? Why?

  6. Eric and Laura's marriage began with a lie about Eric's identity. How much of ourselves do ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Having read Amity Gaige's previous two books, I anticipated the beauty of her latest novel, Schroder. What I didn't anticipate was the weightiness of it, her ability to take the slightest moments and the lightest phrases and mold them into matters of great consequence. I also enjoyed Gaige's more substantial plot: this novel, though still quite lyrical, has the suspense and forward action that were sometimes lacking in her previous two books.   (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).

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Media Reviews
O, The Oprah Magazine

A lyrical and poetic novel about the adverse ramifications of a little white lie that follows its teller throughout his life.

Chicago Tribune

The Folded World will appeal to readers who like to dive into the muck of internal and interpersonal conflicts, and break the surface with breath born of insight and empathy. Amity Gaige's second novel lives up to the reputation she earned with her first one, as an original, compelling voice.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Booklist

[An] expert exploration of the immigrant experience, alienation, and the unbreakable bond between parent and child.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Smart, comic, unsettling, yet strangely of a piece - not unlike its disarming lead character.

Author Blurb Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections
The measure of Gaige's great gifts as a storyteller is that she persuades you to believe in a situation that shouldn't be believable, and to love a narrator who shouldn't be lovable. Seldom has such a daring concept for a novel been grounded in such an appealing character

Author Blurb Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
In Schroder, Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania, and logic crabwalks into crime. This offbeat, exquisitely written novel showcases a fresh, forceful young voice in American letters.

Author Blurb David Bezmozgis, prize-winning author of Natasha and Other Stories and The Free World
Amity Gaige has written a flawless book. It does not contain a single false note. Eric Schroder should take his place among the most charismatic and memorable characters in contemporary fiction, and Amity Gaige her place among the most talented and impressive writers working today.

Author Blurb Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic, and the New York Times best-selling short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here
You will not want to put this book down. You will want to read it in one big gulp. This is a bullet of a novel, aimed at our pieties about parenthood and familial love. You won't soon forget Schroder or his daughter or the sentences that bring them to life.

Reader Reviews
Diane S.

Schroder
Although this sounds like a simple tale, a father kidnapping his eight yr. old daughter, (not a spoiler as it clearly states this in the book description), this novel is anything but simple. When we hear on the news that a father has kidnapped one of...   Read More

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The Real Schroder: Clark Rockefeller

Clark RockefellerIn the interview at the close of the novel, Gaige reveals that an Associated Press snippet about the Clark Rockefeller case was the seed idea for her story. Though Gaige states she chose not to research in detail this tale of a con man turned kidnapper, a great deal of information is readily available via news stories.

Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Gerhartsreiter, rushed his daughter Reigh into a waiting limousine during a supervised custodial visit in July of 2008. Gerhartsreiter's devotion to his daughter was apparently the one thing that could bring down his house of cards - a lifetime of pretending to be someone else. In 2009, he was convicted of kidnapping his daughter and received a sentence of four to five years in ...

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