REVIEW: RIVER ROAD, BY CAROL GOODMAN

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Nan Lewis had just left a holiday party, upset because of the news that another professor, Cressida Janowicz, had told her: that she had been denied tenure. She had had some wine, but only a couple of glasses, she was telling herself as she drove. She was okay. She would make it home safely.

She had tried to talk to Ross, the department head, but a student Leia Dawson, had been monopolizing his time.

Now, as she drove along the river, and just when she reached a particularly difficult turn, with poor visibility due to the dying light of day, she felt the bump. She had hit something with her car. A deer, she decided, but she could find no evidence of it. She walked into the woods, exploring, she had sat down for a while…and later, realized she had fallen asleep.

Later on, she drove her car and parked at the turnaround, unable to get closer to her house. Inside, she went to sleep and didn’t awaken until she heard the knocks on the door….

So begins the saga of how Nan Lewis’s life unravels over the next few weeks, with police questioning, Internet gossipers speculating about her, and seeing herself becoming a pariah in the community. And then suddenly, it all switches to another suspect. But some cannot quite leave her alone.

River Road was a story that had me following my own clues throughout. Even as I wondered if this person or that one had run over Leia Dawson, the girl found dead on the road, I had my eye on someone entirely different. I was quite happy to realize that I was right to be suspicious of that person.

Themes of drug dealing, prison, loss, plagiarism, and alcohol abuse kept me reading. I also enjoyed Nan’s first person narrative that revealed her thoughts and feelings.

I felt sorry for her losses, that her daughter was killed by a hit and run driver a few years before. How her world had turned dark, and then, very slowly started to come alive again. Watching how she fought to find the truth kept me rooting for her throughout this riveting read. 5 stars.

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