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Long Drive Home: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2011

3.3 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Allison follows What You Have Left with a tight drama, part psychological thriller, part tragedy. Glen is an accountant living in New Jersey with his successful wife, Liz, and their six-year-old daughter, Sara. On an ordinary drive home from school, a series of mundane decisions grow increasingly dire and culminate in a car accident that sets road-raging Glen onto a path of deception and self-destruction. The novel is told from Glen's perspective, in part through a confessional letter written to Sara, an obvious but nonetheless effective tension builder. It's a slow burn as guilt chips away at Glen's sanity and his marriage crumbles, his impotent angst finds an unlikely outlet, and he comes under ever more scrutiny by a strangely motivated detective. Allison's triumph is the skillful rendering of Glen's transformation as a basically good guy whose fatal flaw leads him to a cataclysmically stupid decision. And while other characters fare less well—the cop on Glen's tail is straight out of an airport thriller, and Liz isn't given the chance to break through her mercenary and fundamentally unpleasant mold—Allison's effortless prose and playful genre mixing showcase a burgeoning talent. (May)
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Review

“A man driving with his 6-year-old daughter in the back seat gets a case of road rage after a teenage driver cuts him off….[T]he dad, Glen, decides to teach the teenage boy a lesson….While narrowly focusing his lens on the event and its consequences, Mr. Allison still manages to take in a panorama of human behavior. Not knowing what his little girl was aware of, Glen doesn’t admit his role in the accident to his wife or the police. Mr. Allison’s gift is in making that lie—and each new one it inevitably spawns—understandable, showing how this story could be anyone’s.” (The New York Times)

“In this psychological thriller, the cover-up is as bad as the crime….With one disastrous decision and the turn of his steering wheel, Glen Bauer manages to destroy four lives and two families. That incident and the years of guilt and deception that follow are the subject of Allison’s fine second novel (after What You Have Left), a gripping morality that raises questions about race, conscience and the responsibilities of parenthood….Allison’s eye for the quiet details of domestic life highlights what’s at stake, and he makes brilliant use of the precocious Sara…” (People)

"Like a nightmare that gets scarier and scarier as the hyperrealistic details mount, Will Allison's psychological thriller Long Drive Home can shake you up . . . But while wondering whether Glen will get arrested is what keeps you turning pages, Allison's eye for the details of marriage and fatherhood, and his deconstruction of what can happen when a good guy makes one false move, are what will break your heart." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“In Long Drive Home, Allison focuses on the brutally quick unraveling of Glen’s peaceful existence, filling the reader with not only dread but also the desire to discover what terrible—or hopeful—development awaits on the next page.” (Entertainment Weekly)

"[A] tight drama, part psychological thriller, part tragedy . . . Allison's effortless prose and playful genre mixing showcase a burgeoning talent." (Publishers Weekly)

“Will Allison’s beautiful novel is part detective story, part wrenching family drama. It will make you hold your children tighter and kiss your husband or wife longer, thinking of the simple pleasures of everyday life that can be so easily spirited away.” (Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief)

“Will Allison’s Long Drive Home is a sneaky novel, and I mean this as highest praise. Just as the narrator's misdeeds sneak into his conscience and then refuse to leave, so too will this novel’s wry voice and beautifully drawn characters burrow into your heart and mind. A harrowing, terrifically tense, unforgettable book.” (Brock Clarke, author of Exley)

“In Long Drive Home, Will Allison reminds us how risky life is, how one bad move, one swerve from the right path, might set in motion a series of events that can destroy what we love.” (Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of American Salvage)

Long Drive Home examines, with haunting elegance, how quickly one bad decision can descend into calamity. The dread grows with every page—as does the horrifying realization that the narrator’s choices could be yours, and his tragedy could so easily be your own.” (Lauren Grodstein, author of A Friend of the Family)

“Will Allison is a natural storyteller. As he makes clear with his stunning second book, he also has a habit of writing poignant, compulsively readable novels. Long Drive Home is a gripping, elegant, morally complex, and vividly realized portrait of our time and place.” (Frederick Reiken, author of Day for Night)

"A lean masterwork of suspense, Long Drive Home is burnished, brilliant, and irresistibly alluring in its depiction of a man who, when beset by his greatest fears, finds only himself to blame." (Bruce Machart, author of The Wake of Forgiveness)

"In Long Drive Home a fatal car wreck sets off a series of moral crises in the lives of an ordinary suburban family. At stake: race, justice, a couple's marriage, the future of their six-year-old daughter. Will Allison has written a wise and indelible domestic thriller: heart-quickening, heartbreaking—that rare thing: a genuine literary page-turner." (Porter Shreve, author of When the White House Was Ours)

“In Long Drive Home, Will Allison displays a stunning understanding of the ways small unworthy acts can sometimes unravel us. This story of responsibility, regret, and one family's response to a single dishonesty is a powerful tribute to the complexity of human interactions. You won't soon forget either the chills or the compassion this book will evoke.” (Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416543031
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416543039
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Utah Mom VINE VOICE on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Will Allison's second novel Long Drive Home is the story of one bad decision. One second. One reaction. And the many consequences that follow.

It could happen to any one of us and perhaps that is what makes this novel so powerful. Get behind the wheel of a car and suddenly many of us seem to forget that there are other real people driving the other cars on the road. The dangerous driver speeding and weaving in and out of traffic on the freeway without a care for the safety of others can make us angry. How do you react?

In Long Drive Home, Glen gives in to his road rage. He only means to scare the reckless driver. His one quick action will cause a deadly reaction by the teenage driver and set in motion a series of events and decisions that will drastically change Glen and his family's lives.

Will Allison writes well and has the gift of brevity, which is nice for a change. His style is simple yet brilliant and he has a deep understanding of the human mind and conscience. It is a powerful, frightening and riveting tale.

In this novel, Allison created believable and realistic characters and puts them in a situation where one man's ethics, responsibility and honesty will be tested to the limits. A person's true character and values emerge in the crisis and the natural instincts to place blame, to escape, and to hide the truth can unfortunately replace a person's integrity. A person's actions have consequences that affect others.

Honestly, it was at times a painful novel to read but it did inspire a lot of thought about how I hope I would handle a similar situation.
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Format: Hardcover
It's rare that I start a book that is such a page-turner that I almost have a panic attack if I have to put it down. Long Drive Home by Will Allison is just such a book. It starts with a bang and the explosives just continue. It's not that the book is a thriller, per se, though there is that element to the novel. It is just that Will Allison is a born story-teller and he gets the reader in his grips from the first paragraph. And he does not let go.

Glen Bauer is a married father with a six year-old daughter named Sara. He is driving Sara in his car when he sees a police officer go through a red light. He gives the cop the finger and thinks all is over. However, there is a tough guy in front of Glen who thinks that the finger was intended for him. The tough guy stops his car, comes over to Glen and makes sure that Glen can see the gun protruding from inside his jacket. He demands an apology and, by God, he gets it. Glen is thoroughly furious now. His day has been ruined and he's not such a calm driver to begin with. He leaves this scene only to be cut off through three lanes of traffic by a teenager speeding along in a Jaguar. Glen is not a happy camper. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, a quiet little burb and things like this just don't happen to him. He thinks he has seen the last of the Jaguar but he's wrong. It makes a u-turn and heads back towards Glen just as Glen is about to turn into his driveway. Glen decides to mess with the driver - he's furious. He turns his wheels to get in the same lane as the driver as if to play chicken and at the last minute, pulls away. Meanwhile, however, the driver of the Jaguar loses control of his car and hits a huge Sycamore tree, turning the vehicle over and over. Juwan, the sixteen year-old driver of the Jaguar is dead.
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18 Comments 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glen Bauer is the stay-at-home dad of six-year-old Sara. He drives her to and from school each day. His wife, Liz, works in the city--New York City--and commutes for an hour each way by train. This first-person narrative is actually two first-person narratives, one set off with italics (the shorter one). The reader is not told where Glen is when he writes to Sara--this is the part in italics--but the reader is aware that something rather serious has occurred and this father is attempting to deal with it from a distance.
Then we soon learn exactly what occurred.
The initial point of view made this reader rather sympathetic with the father. After all have we not all had far too many experiences with drivers on cell phones who make road travel hazardous? Have we not experienced teenager drivers who seem to think only they own the roads? So when one is confronted with the on-coming vehicle of one of these, would we not have a momentary inclination to do something to teach them a valuable lesson, especially if in the back seat is one's only child?
So when something awful happens--and it does--to this teenager driver, then the reality of that split-second decision on the part of the father become a very harsh reality, most especially when apparently the teen wasn't drinking and was, in fact, a very popular student and a much loved son, especially by his mother.
Glen believes that no one actually saw what he did, maybe not ever his own daughter in the back seat. Sure, the police come, ask the typical questions, and hopefully that is all.
But that is not all.
This is a novel about ethical values, about what can happen in a world--and we sure live in that world--where people feel they can cover up and justify anything.
This is a very skillfully written novel with a very believable cast of characters, one I highly recommend to any reader.
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