The Sweet Hereafter Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Sweet Hereafter

One winter's morning in the town of Sam Dent in upstate New York, a school bus crashes, killing fourteen children, injuring one, and leaving the entire town in shock. As the town atttempts to cope with the terrible tragedy that has befallen them, the reader sees events through the eyes of four characters.
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Dolores Driscoll is the bus driver, who swerved to avoid what might have been a dog. The bus fell into a quarry, leaving only two survivors, her and a fourteen year old girl. Only slightly injured, Dolores must cope with questions of responsibility and blame. Was the tragedy her fault?

Billy Ansel is a vietnam veteran who lost his wife to cancer several years earlier. His life revolves around his two children, nine year old twins. He is driving behind the school bus when it falls into the quarry, and Billy realizes that he must now face a world were everything he loves is lost

Mitchell Stephens is a lawyer who arrives in Sam Dent after the accident, full of anger. He believes that the tragedy could have been avoided if the town had nstalled a better rail by the quarry. As he represents the families of Sam Dent who have lost children, he must also face the loss of his own daughter Zoe who his is about to lose to a world of drugs and crime.

Fourteen year old Nichole Burnell is the only passenger to survive the accident, which left her a parapeligic. When her parents become involved in Mitchell Stephen's lawsuit Nichole feels that the dead children are being exploited, and she reolves to do all she can to stop that from happening.

This sad novel paints a moving portrait of a town trying to move on with life after the worst thing imaginable happens.
The review of this Book prepared by fran laniado

great book. I loved it. Go out and buy it
The review of this Book prepared by Tom Izzo

What happens to a small town in upstate New York when most of its little children die after their school bus plunges into an icy lake? The story of sorrow, recriminations, and secrets that bubble to the surface is related by four different narrators: the bus driver, a man who lost two kids, the town's favorite teenager (a girl crippled by the accident), and a lawyer from out of town looking to help grieving parents file a suit but wrestling with the loss of his own nearly grown daughter to alienation and drugs. It's a hard story, but exquisitely told, and it includes an unaccountable lift at the end which distinguishes it from the 1997 movie version, excellent as that was.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Sweet Hereafter

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Coping with loss of loved one(s)    -   Yes Taboo sex story?    -   Yes Conflict:    -   Big vehicle disaster


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only

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Russell Banks Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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