Red Hook Road. Ayelet Waldman. Doubleday. $25.95. 352 pp.
Ayelet Waldman's new novel, "Red Hook Road," grabs the reader right away.
Maine, where they await newlyweds Becca Copaken and John Tetherly, who are having their wedding pictures taken. The bride and groom are expected to arrive shortly. But as the minutes pass, the guests grow anxious.
Then the police arrive with terrible news: Becca and John have been killed in a car accident.
"Red Hook Road" follows the Copaken and Tetherly families over the course of four summers. Readers see how they grieve, change and move forward after suffering an inexplicable loss.
Coping isn't easy, and mistakes are made. At Becca's unveiling ceremony a year after her death, her mother, Iris, doesn't invite John's family, and she puts her daughter's maiden name on her gravestone.
There is adverse reaction to her actions, but Iris tells herself: "How was she to have known? She had no map, no chart, no carefully laid-out instructions on how to memorialize her daughter."
One relationship is born out of the tragedy — and a marriage deteriorates.
Becca and John's siblings, Ruthie and Matt, begin an affair, much to the disapproval of Matt's mother, Jane. And the union of Iris and her husband, Daniel, quickly breaks down after Becca's death.
Waldman writes a compelling, unique story that reminds readers that pain of a loss doesn't disappear after a funeral or a memorial service.
"Red Hook Road" is an excellent read.