One of my favorites!
This book is SO interesting, especially to someone (like me) who lives in New Jersey. The history of Palisades Park was something I expected, but I wasn't thinking about the other history that would play into the book...even though the book jacket mentioned it. I loved how it all came together, and I think it would make a great book club entry. The characters came alive, and I enjoyed seeing how their lives played out, through the emotional upheavals in the book.
Anyone, who lives in the area, would especially enjoy reading this book...even if (like me) they hadn't ever been to Palisades Park. My husband had been there, and the book makes me a bit jealous of that. The book stands on its own, even for those who have no connection with this area, and I urge them to read it, too.
Rated of 5
by Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
Palisades Park: a high dive into a family
Palisades Park is the history you wish you had, for your family. The timeline stretches 50 years, from the early 1920s to the early 1970s, encompassing wars (two), desegregation (slowly), and crime (organized). The Stopka family is an extended example of John Lennon's "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Palisades Amusement Park, a landmark in New Jersey, was the primordial soup in which the Stopka family evolved, providing a livelihood, an extended family, and a classless university.
For book clubs, Palisades Park has themes to discuss: trials by water and fire, leaving as a necessity to coming home, illusion and reality.
This seems an old-fashioned book to me, not a modern story of dark dysfunction or exploding terrorists but rather a story of the verities: do good work, play fair, dream with muscle, love people anyway.
Rated of 5
by Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
I finished reading this book last week while on a cruise. It's a wonderful book for pleasure reading. I think we all have a "Palisades Park" from our youth - for me it was Riverview on the Northwest side of Chicago. I was taken there as a very little girl and have limited memories. The park was closed for a long time, but we would drive past nearly everyday and my parents would point out rides and stories from their younger days at the park.
These days we have the great corporate owned amusement parks as well as the local carnivals and fairs and generally we think we have an idea of what goes on behind the scenes, but this book dispels those ideas.
These was a lovely book that covered a lot of years, so naturally there were a lot of good times and bad times, both in history and personal lives. This book did a good job covering it all.
I will definitely be recommending this book to my book club.
Rated of 5
by Esther L. (Newtown, PA)
An authors memories
Alan Brennert is the author of one of my favorite books...Moloka'i. When you laugh,cry and feel totally connected to a story and it's characters sometimes an authors new book can't live up to your expectations. That is what happens with Palisades Park. I felt Mr Brennerts's love for the amusement park and its story but didn't connect well with the characters. There was one surprising connection in the mention of the Hawaiian Cottage, a restaurant that used to be outside Cherry Hill,New Jersey. I was first there in 1963 with a date for his junior prom and had my first taste of a pu-pu platter and Hawaiian music. It brought back fond memories of a simpler time.
Rated of 5
by Rebecca E. (Bala Cynwyd, PA)
Memories of Yesteryear
Alan Brennert's two previous novels, Molo'kai and Honolulu, captivated my attention and transported me to the tropical world of their settings. Palisades Park takes the reader to the New Jersey shore and its many amusement parks, but the story engages the reader more deeply in the lives of the people and the communities behind the roller coasters and thrill rides. With the destruction of so many of the boardwalks and amusement park attractions on the Jersey shore with last year's Hurricane Sandy, there has been much talk on the east coast about whether or not to rebuild these treasures of Americana. Can rebuilding ever bring back the memories of the past? Palisades Park is successful in recreating those memories for those of us who remember these bygone times, as well as creating vibrant imagery for those who have never been to these places. While Palisades is not the meaty, discussion-rich book club pick that Molo'kai was, it is an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Rated of 5
by Ann B. (Bethlehem, PA)
Take the ride with Palisades Park
Alan Brennert has written a wonderfully descriptive book that entertains, enlightens, and at times leaves you breathless.
As a ten year old boy, Eddie Stopka spent the best day of his life with his family at Palisades Park in 1922 . There was a reverence he felt just looking up at the great wooden roller coaster, one he says was only reserved for Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel. While Eddie's journey is the essence of the story, the other main character is Palisades Park. We slide back and forth between their stories, celebrating their triumphs and mourning their miseries. As readers, their journeys open a window in time and allow us a glimpse of the life of a great amusement park and the historic events that shaped them both.
I visited many of the well known north eastern amusement parks in the 50s and 60s, so it was natural for me to be drawn to this book. The great surprise was the intimate story that surrounded and intertwined the characters and park.
Although one may begin to compare this story to "Water For Elephants", they are different. While "Water for Elephants" is a story of a fictitious traveling circus, Alan Brennert has taken great care to accurately tell the real story of Palisades Park.
"Palisades Park" is equal parts an adventure, fictional memoir and historic account. I believe it will lead to superb discussions in book clubs.
Rated of 5
by Diane M. (Salt Lake City, UT)
Well written historical fiction
I found this story of a family and the community they share with a wide range of interesting characters to be very engaging. I read it straight through over a weekend. The book begins in1922 when a boy spends the best day of his childhood at the amusement park. The story continues to the park's dismantling in 1974. The depiction of carnival life and particularly that of the high divers is fascinating. The ending felt a little contrived. However, this is well written historical fiction and I would recommend this book.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...