by Ethan Edgewood
Most of us have heard of J. D. Salinger, and the famous novel: “The Catcher in the Rye.” In fact, that novel (1951), and the author, Jerome David Salinger, who has since died (1/27/2010) at the ripe age of 91, has been a mainstay in high schools across America for what the novel deals with: complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Salinger). But that was then; this is now.
Author, Ethan Edgewood is a new writer of the modern age, having written his first novel “The Roads We Take” (2016), and I might say it deals very much with some of the same “complex issues” of innocence, identity, and so forth, except not in high school, but as with many young people in their twenties, today. So this novel is quite frankly a very good assessment of today’s young people who are looking for direction in their lives. Probably a good read for the college level young adults, starting out, although the characters are not college students, only college age; they are fair to say, drop-outs, who discover a right of passage much varied from the educated upper middle class. They struggle to learn who they are and how they must either conform or contrast to criminality.
What is different–and yet, the same–is the nostalgia, and sometimes poignant truth of the difficulty of getting through life’s lessons as a young person: either one grows, or falls short and into trouble, and that is the biggest theme of all, how taking one road can lead a way that helps one progress, or another road, that can lead the way you do not want to go. The excitement is in the trip, where two young men full of youth, restlessness, and mischief, find themselves wondering what might happen if they take a road trip and decide to give it a go.
During the timeframe of a week on the road, the reader finds out who these two young men really are, and what makes them do what they do, on which roads they plan or don’t plan to travel, and why.
Perhaps some may say the story’s been told, but one must remember, every story in the world has been told: it takes a good storyteller to tell it again with variation. And this is what I’ve found in the author’s novel.
J.D. Salinger might have died, but he may have been reincarnated in Ethan Edgewood. If not, Ethan has a good grip on Salinger’s style, albeit, not exactly the same in semantics, syntax, and grammar, but close enough to say this author, Edgewood, knows how to tell a story, make the reader a part of that story, and makes the reader think about those thematic truths within the story, whether we’ve heard it before or not. I liked it, and I loved reading about the angst of and sometimes tormenting choices in, youth and human progress. To read it, one might find a wide ray of hope in humanity, once again.