I think we’ve reached the first book – no, the second book – that I won’t recommend to you, and I feel really crappy about it.
The first book I’m not recommending is Summer People, which I read earlier in the year and didn’t review because I just couldn’t think of what to say. It was really dull and anti-climactic and I felt horrible saying that publicly.
Why do I feel bad? Because my work of fiction is not published and I’m very cautious about saying something negative about a work of fiction that IS published. Three years ago, I would’ve been freer with my words. I would’ve been far more comfortable saying, “Don’t waste your time!” or “That was the most boring piece of drivel ever!” or “Stephenie Meyer is the worse writer of life!” But now that I’ve put myself in a position to be weighed and measured, I’m more cautious. I’m less critical. I know different works speak to different people and everyone’s taste is specific.
Now that I’ve explained myself, let me briefly tell you about Rescue. Webster is an EMT in a small New England town. He’s a generic guy. Nothing overly unique about him. One day he responds to a call that changes the course of his life. A young woman was driving drunk and got in a wreck. For some reason, he’s enamored with this woman – with Sheila. Is she attractive? I guess. He’s not even really sure why he’s drawn to her, but drawn he is, so much that he tracks Sheila down after being released from the hospital. She’s a bit put off by the EMT showing up on her doorstep, but whatever. They start dating! They have a moment of passion and bam – she’s pregnant.
They all-of-a-sudden get married and Sheila starts drinking again. She drives drunk with their baby and gets in a second car crash that results in the other driver getting severely injured. Instead of turning her over to authorities or sending her to rehab, Webster puts her in a car and sends her off. He kicks Sheila out of the state and he raises their daughter, Rowan, on her own.
Fast forward 18 years. Rowan is about to graduate high school. She’s moody. She’s dismissive. She’s a teenager and then some. Webster can’t figure out why. It never occurs to him that she may be missing her phantom mother. She starts drinking. She gets in an accident. Life repeats itself.
In short, Sheila returns and they start the process of sorting out 18 years of emotions.
I wanted to find something meaningful in this book but I just didn’t. It was a predictable story with characters who weren’t all that likable. Webster had a few redeeming qualities, but nothing to hang on to. There was an ongoing parallel of his EMT rescues mirroring the destruction in his own home, but it wasn’t a clever use of the literary device. Every chapter started with an EMT response to an emergency and every chapter ended with his own life falling apart. The equation was blatant.
So I’m not recommending this book to you unless you’re a diehard Anita Shreve fan and feel compelled to read the entirety of her work. In that case, you can buy Rescue here.