Grist Mill Road by Christopher Yates

Grist Mill Road by Christopher Yates

Grist Mill Road.jpg

Grist Mill Road
by Christopher Yates
Picador (January 9, 2018)
352 pages
Advance copy provided by publisher

After hearing such great things about his debut, Black Chalk, I couldn't resist the opportunity to read the second novel by Christopher Yates, Grist Mill Road. The story begins powerfully, and the first paragraph is an attention-grabber. 

I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh, and each time he hit her she screamed. Do the math and the whole thing probably went on for as long as ten minutes. I just stood there and watched.

In a wooded area north of New York City, teenage friends Hannah, Matthew and Patrick become irrevocably connected through their participation in a crime in 1982; Hannah is a victim of this crime, and as the novel progresses to present day, the affects of her experiences become apparent in her daily adult life.

What an imaginative, captivating story line! In addition, while alternating narrators can often be tricky and troublesome, Yates masterfully kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering where this narrative would lead and desperate for the conclusion. 

So that’s where I began, writing the opening lines a few weeks before Christmas 2007, obviously unable to see the story for what it was truly, the seed of a tragedy far greater than mine alone, the beginning of everything that’s happened since the day when I first sat down and typed out the words, I grew up ninety miles north and half a decade away from New York City. Because just as with my favorite book, In Cold Blood, this story you’re reading once started out as a perfectly ordinary, everyday tale. Until, very suddenly, it wasn’t.

There were a couple of things about this novel that I did not enjoy, but I feel certain that many will not be bothered in the slightest. The first is that Yates uses no quotation marks which made it a little tough, at times, for me to stay engaged. 

The second is that a story is only going to keep me "on the hook" for so long; once I realized that the story would meander for a bit before it advanced, I found myself less and less interested. I also had some issues with the narrative of one particular character, toward the end of the book, but I don't want to spoil anything! 

Overall, I liked Grist Mill Road l and will certainly recommend it to others because of the unique story and flawed, broken characters; it has received excellent reviews from many other readers and I'll be adding this to my Best Books to Read on Spring Break List! 

 

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