Hometowns always seem to pull us back toward the people we once were. Being back at “Home” often dredges up memories and experiences that sometimes we wish we could erase forever. In his new and compelling novel, Old Newgate Road, author Keith Scribner challenges us to face the demons of our past through a story of homecoming, forgiveness, and hope.
The novel follows Cole Callahan, who fled his hometown in Connecticut, as soon as he turned 18, escaping a town that knew too much about the domestic violence in his home, and the murder of his mother by his father. Hiding far from his past in Oregon, he created a life for himself, married, and had a son of his own. But now his father is out of prison, and his son is on the brink of a life of crime. In a business trip turned unintentional reunion, Cole and his son spend a summer living with his father who now suffers from worsening dementia; finding forgiveness and peace along the way. It’s a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, reminding us that we aren’t defined by our past, but by the way we overcome it.
What I Liked:
This book is breathtaking and raw. With vivid imagery, Scribner brings his characters to life, crafting a story line that pulls you along without even noticing. This is one of those books that holds you so tightly that you forget where you are, and when you come up for air you can’t remember for a moment which people are real and which are imagined. The story captured my heart and I worried for the characters, crying with them when they were hurting, and laughing when they laughed.
I loved the style of this book as well. It shifts between present day and flashbacks to the main characters past. Normally I am not a fan of flashbacks, but the way the author sews them gently into the story line makes the transitions happen seamlessly. The story simply wouldn’t carry the same weight if told from any other perspective.
What Was Missing:
I couldn’t find much at all to complain about in this book. Professional and well-edited, his writing is on par with some of the most popular novelists of today. The story is tight and incredibly clean, and I look forward to reading more from Scribner.
If I had to find one thing that was missing in this book, it’s the fact that I wanted more at the end of the story. I was left longing to know what happened in the years to come for Cole and the rest of the characters, and I wanted more of the writing that kept me so spellbound.
This book is a classic in the making. It’s a heart-wrenching story filled with impossible decisions and unimaginable consequences. The writing is captivating, and it lives up to the highest of expectations. If you have an avid reader on your Christmas list, this is the book to get them.
About the Author:
Keith Scribner lives in Corvallis with his wife and children, where he teaches at Oregon State University. He previously published three other novels, The Oregon Experiment, Miracle Girl and The Goodlife. Old Newgate Road was the winner of a 2020 Connecticut Book Award and has been hailed by many sources, including the New York Journal of Books and Publishers Weekly. You can purchase your copy either on the authors website or at Grass Roots Books in Corvallis.