By Karen Valby
Updated March 08, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Schwartz has written a really good book. Sadly, for fans of his far superior 1998 novel, Reservation Road, this isn’t it. The opening line — ”There was before her and now there is after her, and that is the difference in my life” — doesn’t bode well for readers hungry for Reservation’s slick pacing and psychological intrigue. A self-indulgent, mealymouthed meditation on thwarted love, the new book is a disappointment from start to finish. Two young graduate students, neither of them very sympathetic, fall in love, break up, move on, but never really let go. On their first sleepover: ”Her trust — unfathomable to me — was to give herself to sleep in my arms. My trust was to remain awake, never losing sight of her, never wanting to.” Good night, Irene.