Long Drive Home: A Novel Paperback – Feb 7 2012
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“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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Will Allison is the author of What You Have Left. He lives with his wife and daughter in South Orange, New Jersey. Visit him at WillAllison.com.
Top Customer Reviews
In Will Allison's critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, a happily married man makes a split-second decision that sends his life into a devastating tailspin.
Life can change in an instant because of one small mistake. For Glen Bauer, all it takes is a quick jerk of the steering wheel, an impulsive move intended to scare a reckless driver-not kill him. But when Glen realizes no one saw the deadly accident, he lies to the police, to his wife, even to his six-year-old daughter, Sara, who was in the backseat at the time of the crash. As his wife's panicked plan to save their family instead threatens to tear it apart, Glen can't help wondering: What if the accident wasn't really his fault? What if someone else were to blame? Struggling to understand the extent of his own culpability, Glen finds himself on yet another collision course, different in kind but with equally terrible potential.
Long Drive Home is a stunning cautionary tale of unintended consequences that confirms Will Allison's reputation as a rising literary talent.
The story opens with letter written to 8-year-old, Sara, from her father, Glen. He is writing the letter in the hope that she will understand when she's older, why he did what he did.
Two years prior when, Sara, was 6-years-old, Glen had picked her up from Grade 1 at the end of the school day. It was October and Sara had been part of a Thanksgiving Day play about the Pilgrims.
On their way home a Jaguar driven by an 18-year-old young man came toward Glen and Sara's car and swerved into their lane. Glen was irate and swerved his car purposely into the Jaguar's lane but the Jaguar was still a bit over the line in Glen's lane.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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. I've been talking with my husband about the various issues brought up in the book and because of the various topics to discuss, including roles and loyalty in marriage, Long Drive Home would be an excellent choice for a book club.
For those who care, this novel is also refreshingly free of possibly offensive material such as foul language and intimate scenes.
By the way, the cover of this book uses the same picture that a recently published YA novel used. Don't be confused.
I received a free copy of the book from the publishers in return for my honest review. I received no additional compensation.
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.
Now Glen is in a moral dilemma. If he tells the truth, he could be arrested as an accomplice to a killing. He also realizes that he put his six-year old daughter, Sara, at risk by his shenanigans. He decides to lie about what happened and say that he was just pulling into his driveway when Juwan lost control of his car. The police investigate and one very perspicacious detective, Rizzo, thinks that Glen is hiding something. Also, the evidence contradicts Glen's story. His tire tracks are several feet beyond his driveway. If, as he says, he was pulling into his driveway, the tracks should end before his driveway starts. Rizzo is on Glen like white on snow.
As Glen begins to tell one lie after another, or omit one fact or another, in order to cover up what happened, his life starts to unravel. His marriage begins to crumble in the wake of fear - fear of litigation or imprisonment, and his wife's sense that Glen is not telling the truth. Glen's moral dilemmas get worse and worse. In fact, he realizes that Sara knows the truth and he wants to keep her as far away from Detective Rizzo as possible. He thinks he can get away with things but the situation keeps getting more and more out of hand. Glen also thinks that if certain situations had not occurred prior to Juwan's accident, he never would have acted like he did. He becomes obsessed with finding someone or something to blame for Juwan's death other than himself.
Jamal's mother hires a lawyer in consideration of a wrongful death suit, Rizzo won't get off Glen's tail and Sara inadvertently speaks to Jamal's mother about the accident. Glen and his wife end up separating, ostensibly to keep their assets separate, but in reality their marriage is becoming a sham.
The novel is told in first person by Glen and also as a letter he is composing for his daughter, Sara, to give to her when she is eighteen. It would have been nice if there had been more of the letter included in the novel as the letter really gets into Glen's head and his rationalizations and truths regarding the accident.
This book is a moral thriller and a good look at today's society. What constitutes a lie versus a lie of omission? Where does truth end and lying begin. When is it right to lie and when does lying take its toll on others' greater freedoms. Allison examines all these issues in a book you won't soon forget. Don't plan on doing anything else once you start this novel. If you're like me, you'll give up eating and sleeping until it's finished.
This story is told in first person point view from the point of view of Glen, our main character. Allison keeps point of view very consistent throughout and he shows real mastery of writing. During the story we are treated to multiple excerpts of a letter that Glen is writing to his daughter that she will not receive and read until she reaches age 18. These letter excerpts were so personal, so touching, so well written that I would have liked to see more of them. When the second excerpt appeared, I was taken by surprise, a pleasant surprise. The problem is, there were also a couple points in the plot that were a little unbelievable. That's why I would say it was almost perfect, but not quite.
This is not so much a thriller or police procedural as a tale about how an action can have long range consequences and about regret that can nearly cripple you. The reader goes on a journey through pain and darkness with Glen as he tries to work his way to the other side of a moral wrong toward the light. It's a very good book, definitely worth reading.
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.
Glen writes his daughter, Sara, a letter explaining what went wrong in his marriage to Liz and the events that lead up to their divorce. The letter is interspersed with the story of that time period. In a way, Glen is asking his daughter for forgiveness and trying to make thing right when he lies and tries to make her believe that the accident she witnessed as a six year old didn't happen the way it really did. Glen and his wife try to cover up his involvement in the accident by lying to the police when questioned about exactly how the accident occurred. I just really got a uneasy feeling from the actions of both these characters, especially his lawyer wife, Liz, who immediately wants a divorce to protect their assets. In parts, this book really creeped me out.
The crux of the whole story centers around the accident where Glen tries to scare a wreckless driver by swerving a bit in front of him to stop his erratic speeding and instead the car rolls, killing the teen driver. Sara sitting in the backseat remembers details but not everything, she knows just enough to really incriminate her father. The main part that really bothered me about this accident is that, yes, Glen is partially at fault for the accident, but it would have not been as severe or even avoided, if the teen had been driving safely. The police who question him really seem to be out to get him since they know he is lying. Glen also is incredibly immature and this is shown in great detail when he stalks another driver who threatens him after a previous run in right before the accident. The story really brings to light how little things can add up to create a monsterous problem.