As a teenager, Erik Schroder decided to reinvent himself. At summer camp, he changes his name to Eric Kennedy and made up a past for his invented all-American family, one that didn’t involve immigration from Germany. His new name followed him into adulthood. His wife, Laura, never even knew that Kennedy was a made-up name, nor has she met her father-in-law (who would ruin Eric’s cover with his thick German accent).
Years later, he is in a heated custody battle with his estranged wife over their six-year-old daughter, Meadow. One afternoon, he picks up Meadow and they start driving. Eric isn’t quite sure what he’s doing, but decides to take a spontaneous vacation with his daughter.
Soon it is all over the news as a kidnapping. Secrets that Eric has held onto for years begin surfacing. Eric has to continuously change his plan while keeping the precocious Meadow calm.
Schroder is written as one long letter. It is Eric’s confession about everything – the name change, the false family background, why he took Meadow, and what his plan was for the future for him and Meadow. This letter shows that even though so much of his past was a fallacy, the love for his daughter is true and sincere.
The letter is a buildup of feelings that Eric has wanted to share for years. Creating Eric Kennedy is something he never thought he’d get away with. After almost twenty years of living out his warped vision of the American Dream, Eric Kennedy almost seems as if he wants his secret found. He wants to clear the slate of his wrong-doings and start over (maybe as Erik Schroder, maybe even as someone else entirely). What he knows now, though, is that lying to everyone about who he is destroyed all relationships in the past (a main reason why he thinks him and Laura are getting divorced, even though she doesn’t know about the fake name until now, after they are well into the divorce). The times he is sincere, the times he drops his persona and just is who he is, is when he is interacting with Meadow. Eric is slowly realizing that it is time to explain his past decisions if he hopes to have any sort of relationship with his daughter after the ‘kidnapping’ incident.