Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates

Title: Revolutionary Road
Author: Richard Yates
Pages: 463
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 5/5
Network: Goodreads | Shelfari | LibraryThing
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: April and Frank Wheeler, along with their two children, aren't really suited to suburban life in 1955 America. Frank has a job where he doesn't really have to do (much of) anything, and April was never really suited to the life of a house wife. They want something bigger, and something better. There's only one thing standing in their way....

My Review:  This book is amazing, and you should read it. This book challenged me to think about my preconceived ideas of what it must have been to live during the 1950s and I have been changed by a fascinating and skillful narrative that I will never forget. I know, finishing this story, that April and Frank Wheeler will stay with me.

Revolutionary Road is undeniably a sad book. You may feel horror, revulsion, disillusionment when reading this novel. I believe that is how Yates intended the story to be read. But if you let it, this is the kind of book that comes along so very rarely: it is a book that will take you along with it, based purely on the reality of the story and the people in it.

More after the jump! (May contain spoilers!)

I experienced a love/hate relationship with Frank and April Wheeler in this novel. There were moments when I could feel real compassion for both of them, and other times when I was repulsed by what I saw as a repugnant recurring theme throughout the book.

It must be established both for those who have read this book and for those who are considering it that these are not necessarily likable characters. And that's okay. The Wheelers, along with their friends and neighbors, are selfish, narcissistic people. It is this that makes them so absolutely typical. If we dislike them, we dislike them most of all because we see so much of ourselves in these people: We see our selfish nature, or our tendency toward gossip.

I believe that most readers will be able to relate the struggle that the Wheelers have, their desire for something more, something great. It is easy to feel for them as it all falls apart.

I don't hand out five stars. This book was so amazing to me that I couldn't bring myself to give it anything less.


  1. Have you read Richard Yates's short stories? They are depressing, yet so well written and finely wrought that I couldn't help admiring them.

  2. This is the first that I've read of Yates. I really need to check out more of his writings. He is truly brilliant.

    As I read this book I kept thinking "I shouldn't be enjoying this" and yet when I really started to read it took me just over three days to finish the novel. Really amazing.

    Again, I think that the reason was that I could relate to the characters -- I could see me in them.

  3. based on your very good review-I have decided to try very hard to read Revolutionary Road this year

  4. I believe it's a good choice!

  5. i have this on my list as i loved the movie so much. your review just bumped it up towards the top! it must have been such a contraversial book at the time!

  6. I believe it still is, or should be, controversial. Those who know me well (i.e. my husband) are raising eyebrows over how much I enjoyed this book, mainly because I'm not judging the message but the book itself, the writing, the characters, the way the plot is driven. All of that is done remarkably well, even if I disagree with the overall message of the book.

    I may be a lot like April and Frank Wheeler, but I don't *want* to be ;)

  7. This is a great review, Becki. I'm definitely going to add this book to my list - but maybe save it for a time when I'm feeling particularly upbeat... !

  8. Im glad you like this book, I have both the book and film but havent read or watched etiher. I think because I've heard they are both a little depressing so am waiting till I'm 'in the mood'

  9. It is, Jessica. I had to put it down between chapters to recuperate. Even so, I thought the book was worth the strain and depressing moments if for no other reason than the absolute skill of the author.