The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks

The Sweet Hereafter by Russell BanksFollowing a tragic school bus accident, the people of a small town try to come to terms with the deaths of their children. The characters include: the school bus driver, the father of twins killed in the crash, a New York lawyer out for revenge, and a fourteen year old girl crippled by the accident. The reader experiences the story from inside the heads of these four characters in turn–each knowing things the others don’t, each misunderstanding the facts in his or her own way. The characters are further revealed through the observations of others in the novel.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
The book was wonderfully crafted. We found its concentration on the aftermath of the tragedy rather than on the accident itself to be fascinating. The characters, while well-drawn, were not likable and seemed at times to represent stereotypes rather than people. The bleak atmosphere of the story is difficult to immerse yourself in, yet you are drawn to its conclusion in a fruitless search for a glimpse of happiness. We found the lawyer the most interesting character and liked the inclusion of his relationship with his daughter who is as lost to him as the town’s children.

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