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Long Drive Home: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012
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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)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"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."
"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..."
"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."
"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."
"[A] tight drama, part psychological thriller, part tragedy . . . Allison's effortless prose and playful genre mixing showcase a burgeoning talent."
"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
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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.
Mother and wife, Liz, is a Human Relations director at a bank and Glen works from home doing accounting work, mostly taxes. The tight, suspenseful drama of this story begins when Glen is taking Sara home from school to their house in South Orange, NJ, when a cop almost rearends Glen at a stop light and then backs up and goes around Glen through the red light. Glen doesn't like the cop's sense of entitlement and flicks him off. The story keeps going until the very last page.
What softens the suspense is a letter that the book starts with and continues in segments throughout. It's a letter that Glen is writing to Sara ten years later to apologize for his actions and their tragic consequences. The outcome is ultimately sad, and I faulted Liz for the decision she made, and Glen for his original mistake and decisions. Sara, only six, seemed a bit precocious in her thinking and her comments at times, but she was highly affected by this auto crash.
Long Drive Home is a short book that took me just two sittings to read, but if I'd had the time, I could have read it in one. It moves very fast and the characters draw you into their lives before you know it. The hardback that I read has a preview of Allison's What You Have Left, which is promising to be another that I have to read. I highly recommend this book in any form you can get it.
Summary: quick read, great premise, poor execution.