Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Published on: February 5, 2013
Page Count: 272
My Reading Format: Audiobook review copy provided to me by the publisher for consideration
Audiobook Published by: Hachette Audio
Narrator: Will Collyer
Audiobook Length: 7 hours 10 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook (paperback to be released on October 8, 2013)
Summary from the Publisher:
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.
Schroder was a book I wanted to read so desperately that I didn’t care an ounce that I’ve never listened to or even heard of the audiobook’s narrator, Will Collyer. I love potentially unreliable narrators and especially those with a nod toward the malfeasant. Before the book began I knew that Eric lives under an assumed name and that he is on the run with his only daughter Meadow. The potential for literary bliss was very high and that was before I ever hear Will Collyer speak his first word. The combination of story and narration was like pure catnip to this reader.
It is not difficult to sympathize with Eric Kennedy. He was immigrated to the United States from East Germany without his mother. He does not have the easiest relationship with this lonely man and he encountered a lot of difficulty fitting in with his Bostonian classmates. Without guidance from an adult, it made sense to Eric, when he had the opportunity, to Americanize his accent and his last name. Without telling his father, he adopted the last name Kennedy on an application to a summer camp as well as his life story in order to receive a scholarship. He discovered he was good at this sort of deception and saw no need to change. After all, he wasn’t out to hurt anyone. The trouble with not being yourself around those you love, however, is that no matter how much you like the person you’ve changed in to, your true self and your lies always have a way of bobbing up to the surface.
I have said it many times since I listened to this audiobook, but Will Collyer is full of awesome. He gave voice and life to Eric in all of his manifestations. Knowing full well that the story of Eric’s relationship with his wife resulted in him going on the run with his daughter, I was completely charmed by Eric through Collyer’s performance. His tone, his pacing, and his inflections were perfect for this man trying to explain who he is and why he did the things that he did. His work showcased both Amity Gaige’s beautiful writing and the honesty with which she approached this most dishonest man. Schroder was an exhilarating audiobook.
I listened to this audiobook in the spring while I was in the midst of a job change that led to the longest blogging dry spell I’ve ever experienced. Even still, this reading experience has stayed with me, reminding me of why reading is so important. Do not mistake my reviewing tardiness as a mark against Schroder. This book has remained with me ever since I’ve read it. As much as I’ve been writing smaller reviews or blurbs to cover the books I read during those work and study intensive days, there is no way the reader and blogger in me could let Schroder go without a full review. This novel and Will Collyer’s narration is special. Give the audiobook a listen and hear why Will Collyer will put any book on my must listen list.