Book Review: River Road by Carol Goodman

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Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?
* Copy provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. *
„She hates that road. It took her daughter away. That blind curve is taking her life again, and again.“
Nan is a professor at the university, she teaches creative writing. After a party at the college, she goes home by car, slightly drunk. Driving in the dark, she hits a deer. She sees a deer. When she walks out of the car, the deer is nowhere to be found. She goes into the wood to look for it. Drunk and overwhelmed with the painful memories on her own, she falls asleep under a tree. After a while, she wakes up and goes home. Next morning, she finds out that one of her students died that night in a hit-and-run accident. It can’t be her! She hit a deer, for God’s sake! But it was dark, and she has been drinking. Nan can not be sure of anything.
That road! Her little girl died on that same place. The driver thought that hit a cat. She, the mother, suppose to know most of all about that blind curve on the road. She, most of all, suppose to know not to cause the same pain that it was caused to her. But there is evidence, blood and damage of her car. Was it really a deer?
This is my first book from Carol Goodman, but definitely, won’t be the last. The author quickly sets the plot and then slowly reveals the characters, one by one. First, there is Nan. A mother, a professor, a woman. A mother who copes with the hardest pain of all, losing a child. Her own little girl dies in a hit-and-run accident. Just because she was too busy watching her while writing her book. It didn’t matter that the woman who caused the accident went to prison. It doesn’t matter that that same woman is sorry. Nothing can relieve the pain. Her daily job continues, teaching slightly makes the days different. But students love her, she is a good teacher. And she loves her students, dives into their writing works where she finds out their true personalities, their wishes and hopes and dreams. She loves Leia, she is one of her brightest students. The news about her death is devastating. She can not be the one who hit her!
There is guilt but also doubt. Was Nan the one who drove over Leia?
As the story continues, we find out about Leia’s character. We talk the best for the dead, but many people do not think so. For ones, Leia is a saint, for others, she has a different face. Many people at the university light candles for her, many are grieving, but some show other faces and start talking different things. Page after page, Leia becomes more that just the body in the story. She becomes a mystery herself. 
The author wrote very emotional and intriguing story. She included a mystery, a possible murder, and many, many emotions. There is grief and many tears for the dead child, doubt and guilt, and bravery to do the right things and find out what has really happened that night. With very few characters, slowly revealed one by one, the story turns into some very unexpected ways. Gripping, mysterious, emotional, River Road is a book that should not be overlooked. Totally recommended!
My opinion: 4,5 / 5.

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