Old Border Road: A Novel

( 5 )

Overview

Katherine is seventeen, living alone in the beautiful, desolate landscape of southern Arizona. Her mother is feckless, her father busy up north with his new family. Meeting Son, the scion of a local rancher, seems like deliverance. They marry and live as a family in his parents' venerable adobe house, but it soon becomes clear that Son is a man who, as his father says, has a "young heart near withered beneath the breastbone." Katherine must find her own way during a dangerous months-long drought, when everything ...

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Old Border Road

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Overview

Katherine is seventeen, living alone in the beautiful, desolate landscape of southern Arizona. Her mother is feckless, her father busy up north with his new family. Meeting Son, the scion of a local rancher, seems like deliverance. They marry and live as a family in his parents' venerable adobe house, but it soon becomes clear that Son is a man who, as his father says, has a "young heart near withered beneath the breastbone." Katherine must find her own way during a dangerous months-long drought, when everything seems to be disintegrating around her. The physical terrain of Old Border Road, like Marilynne Robinson's Idaho or Cormac McCarthy's Texas, is more than a backdrop—it informs what happens.

Susan Froderberg's novel speaks to universal concerns about commitment, ambition, and betrayal. Her use of incantatory, almost biblical language—and her knowledge of both the complexities of a small, deeply-rooted place and the human heart—make Old Border Road soar.

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Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
"This is a Western transformed by its focus on a young woman....Katherine has a raw poetic voice that makes the tale an arresting incantation of longing and regret."
Sam Sacks
"Ms. Froderberg superbly draws on the Sonora Desert's singular features to highlight Katherine's changing emotions....The hard lesson of Old Border Road is that there are endless enticements that lead men to dishonor."
Susan Salter Reynolds
"This remarkable debut novel, the story of a girl, begins with an adobe house and a road that runs south to north."
Barbara Fisher
"This simple story is beautifully told."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Froderberg writes with an elegance and originality that captivates....The story has heart, perhaps because in Katherine we find a character to rally behind."
The New Yorker
"Set against a stifling drought, events take on their own slow-burning heat. . . .Froderberg's writing...achieves the sublime."
From the Publisher
"This is a Western transformed by its focus on a young woman....Katherine has a raw poetic voice that makes the tale an arresting incantation of longing and regret."—Ron Charles, Washington Post

"Ms. Froderberg superbly draws on the Sonora Desert's singular features to highlight Katherine's changing emotions....The hard lesson of Old Border Road is that there are endless enticements that lead men to dishonor."—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"This remarkable debut novel, the story of a girl, begins with an adobe house and a road that runs south to north."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"This simple story is beautifully told."—Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe

"Froderberg writes with an elegance and originality that captivates....The story has heart, perhaps because in Katherine we find a character to rally behind."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Set against a stifling drought, events take on their own slow-burning heat. . . .Froderberg's writing...achieves the sublime."—The New Yorker

Library Journal
In this first novel, Katherine is still a teenager when she marries Son and moves with him into his parents' adobe house in southern Arizona. The marriage quickly goes sour because of Son's infidelity and irresponsibility. But Katherine grows close to her in-laws, who seem to parent her better than her own parents did, and with their help and that of a few other mentors, she finds her inner strength and begins the path to self-actualization. The details of ranch and rodeo life are atmospheric, but there is a vagueness to the narrative style that makes the story hard to engage with. Seemingly important information is glossed over, and occasional shifts into nonlinearity are confusing. Too often the prose is indirect to the point of incoherence, as in "I'm trying to find the true place I know to get the feelings right that I had had there once." VERDICT Expect some regional interest in Arizona, where the author lived for seven years; otherwise, not an essential purchase.—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316098786
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 12/7/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 941,461
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Froderberg was born in Washington State. She moved east to study medical ethics and philosophy at Columbia University, where she received her doctorate. Froderberg lives with her husband in New York City. Old Border Road is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Too dusty!

    In Old Border Road young Katherine grows up poor and neglected in rural, drought ridden Arizona. When she falls in love with Son, the only child of a local rancher, marrying him seems the way out of her desolate life. Though his parents accept her as part of the family, it is soon clear that Son himself is beaten down by the drought and other circumstances and has no will or motivation to help her create a better life. As the drought worsens their marriage falls apart.

    This book was just too bleak and depressing for me. I liked Katherine and it was frustrating to feel that she never had a chance. The writing style is very abrupt, the book jacket describes it as "almost biblical" and I found it difficult and unsettling to read. She does a marvelous job of evoking the landscape and atmosphere, I would put the book aside feeling like there was a coating of dust in my mouth. I would say Susan Froderberg accomplished what she set out to do admirably - it just wasn't to my taste.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    Fresh and intriguing!

    Froderburg's unusual writing style and way with language (including made-up words) is enjoyable and interesting rather than off-putting. The story is a remarkable record of a teenager who is open to learning and mentoring by adults who care. She is able to withstand the heartbreak dealt her by a selfish, immature, and aimless husband. She becomes essentially the last 'man' standing at a formerly prosperous ranch. She leaves it only after securing the animals, cleaning the house and putting as much in order for the future as possible. We aren't told how she will jigger her own future, but we are allowed to be hopeful when she reclaims the use of her name, Katherine. I will watch for more from Froderburg who gets so much right about the sparsely populated parts of the west, from the underserved medical needs to the wildly tangled water problems.

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    OLD BORDER ROAD BY SUSAN FRODERBERG

    OLD BORDER ROAD by Susan Froderberg is a contemporary romance set in Arizona. This is a story of girl meets boy. Yes, Girl is her name and boy's name is Son. It has teenage marriage, martial conflict,and life changes.Son is the son of a weathy rancher.Girl marries young only seventeen. Son is a gambler, a cheat, a drinker and cheats on his young bride. A drought hits Arizona causing families to have to struggle. After Son's father commits sucide, Girl decides to leave her cheating, drinking husband. But Sun gets into an accident and Girl returns back to care for him. Something in this book just didn't click for me. I don't know if the writing was more complicated than needed or the characters just didn't same to have true faces and identities.It just couldn't same to get into the story line. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at Little, Brown,and Company and My Book Addiction and More.

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  • Posted December 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Old Border Road

    Girl gets married to the Son (yes that is how they are named in the book). She is a young girl and he is the son of a wealthy rancher. But all Son wants to do is drink, gamble and cheat on his new bride. Meanwhile, a draught has hit Arizona where they live and soon the family is struggling. Son's father commits suicide and Girl leaves. Son gets into an accident with his horse, so Girl comes back to take care of him. More happens in this tale, but I found it hard to read and couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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