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REVIEW: Rescue by Anita Shreve


A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma--streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

Can you ever really save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their ordered existence together, Webster fears for her future. His work shows him daily every danger the world contains, how wrong everything can go in a second. All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough.

Sheila's sudden return may be a godsend--or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions and anger and longing to surface anew. What tore a young family apart? Is there even worse damage ahead? The questions lifted up in Anita Shreve's utterly enthralling new novel are deep and lasting, and this is a novel that could only have been written by a master of the human heart.

About the Author

Anita Shreve is the acclaimed author of 15 previous novels, including A Change in Altitude; Testimony; The Pilot's Wife, which was a selection of Oprah's Book Club; and The Weight of Water, which was a finalist for England's Orange prize. She lives in Massachusetts.


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316020729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316020725


Anita Shreve's stories are deceptively simple and this one is no different.  Her words will suck you in and you won't realize what you have read until after you have finished it.  In the end, you will reflect on her novels and always remember them, questioning the actions of her characters.  Did they do the right thing?  And of course, like life itself, there is no easy answer.  My book group always chooses her novels since they always spark intense discussion.

Her new novel, Rescue, is a cautionary tale about what happens when parents aren't completely honest with their children.  Peter Webster is raising his daughter Rowan after sending his alcoholic wife, Sheila, away when she has her second drunk driving accident with baby Rowan in the car.  Rowan grows up to be a responsible young adult, but as she enters her senior year, she starts to question her life and rebel.  Her rebellion includes lots of alcohol and risky behavior. 

Peter becomes a clueless single father or rather he is so busy trying to make ends meet to realize that something is going wrong with his daughter.  He does try his best, but circumstances overwhelm him.  In the end a tragic twist brings Sheila back into her daughter's life.  Although there could have been a several ways this story could have ended, it took the path of least resistance. 


  1. What a great review. I didn't realise she had 15 Novels, I definitely need to get onto that. I read Testimony and loved it and promised myself to read her other works.

    This is new so will definitely be read in 2011 but I will read another for sure also.

    This one sounds emotional, just how I like them.

  2. This will be a must-read for me, thank you so much for this review!

  3. What a great review. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention her novels are deceptively simple. Looks like another winner.


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