Buy This Book: RESCUE by Anita Shreve

Rescue: A NovelOne of the gifts of Anita Shreve's writing is in her rendering of character. It is no different in her latest novel, RESCUE. Peter Webster, called Webster, is as warm and real as words can make him. At twenty-one, he’s a rookie paramedic, a “probie”, when the call comes in about a one-car accident on a local highway. The driver, Sheila Arsenault, was drunk, spun out in the fog and wrapped herself around a tree. Before it’s over, she’s wrapped herself around Webster’s heart, too, and a pretty fair share of his brain cells, or so his parents think. The next thing you know, Sheila’s pregnant and Webster, being Webster, does the honorable thing. Of course he’s in love with her, deeply, madly (Sheila’s a smart-mouth and a drinker but gorgeous, and a completely beguiling enigma), but Webster’s the kind of guy who’d do the right thing anyway. You just know it. You know him. He lays aside a dream of owning land to build a life with Sheila and their daughter, Rowan, once she’s born. He’s happy, too. Rowan and Sheila are “his girls”. You fall in love with this family. This is how it always works with Anita Shreve’s story telling; she makes you forget the people are born of her imagination and Webster is truly endearing, so when Sheila can’t stop drinking, when her drinking finally breaks the family, your heart breaks right along with Webster’s.

But he manages; he works his job rescuing people who are deep in their own reservoir of bad news. In scenes that are real, vividly drawn and immediate, you see how the job gets to Webster, gets into his bones, but he loves it and he’s good at it. You can feel his dedication; you can feel it when it sucks out his breath, but he does it anyway. He’s a devoted dad, too, although now that Rowan is a teenager, a motherless girl teenager, he’s often at sea. He feels she’s leaving him, but he isn’t truly afraid, not until she starts drinking like her mother, who was forced to take her hasty leave of them so long ago. Webster has confronted disaster again and again in his line of work; he knows how within a matter of moments, you can lose everything and everyone you have ever loved. But this is his daughter and suddenly it seems as if love is not enough. Suddenly this man who is so skilled at rescuing others can’t find the means to rescue his own child. And then Sheila reappears and the past is resurrected and, given the enormity of the damage that was done by Sheila’s departure, it is about as clear as fog what the effect will be for any one of the members of this small family. The ending of this story is as thoughtful as it is thought provoking. Among other things, it could provide the means to discuss a tough issue--teenaged drinking.

The writing is lovely, vintage Anita Shreve, carefully spare, yet elegant and so evocative of mood. Altogether an absorbing read. I loved it!


Joni Rodgers said…
Can't go wrong with Anita Shreve. Your review made me download the kindle sample, but candidly...the price point is a bit high for an ebook. The question is, will I be able to resist after I read the sample? (Probably not.)

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