Summary and book reviews of Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen

Family and Other Accidents

By Shari Goldhagen

Family and Other Accidents
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Apr 2006,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2006,
    272 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Separated by a decade and 200 points on their SAT scores, Jack and Connor Reed have a life in the Cleveland suburbs held together by spit and Chinese takeout. With his self-absorbed, over-the-hill parents dead by his twenty-fifth birthday, Jack has abandoned his own plans and returned to his parents’ house where he works marathon hours at his late father’s law firm, beds young paralegals, and throws money and advice at his teenage brother. Connor meanwhile wants nothing more than to leave the Midwest, start a family early, and do everything the way his parents didn’t. But over the years, through the car crashes and bad break-ups, the illnesses and illicit affairs, both realize that while circumstances are sometimes beyond control, there are always choices to be made.

Family and Other Accidents tells the story of these brothers from their viewpoints as well as from those of their girlfriends, wives, and children. It is a story of what it means to be a family, to love unconditionally in the face of confusion, anger, and regret. Shari Goldhagen’s debut is a finely nuanced, universally resonant portrait of the ties, however strange or awkward, that bind families together through the decades.

One
stealing condoms from joe jr.'s room

One hundred and ninety-eight hours before Jenny Greenspan's birth control pills should kick in, Connor is in juvenile traffic court explaining how he followed a pickup truck through a yellow light and slammed into the side of a minivan.

"It was raining and hard to see." He tries to sound apologetic, the way his brother suggested on the ride over. Really he just wants court to be over so he can use the bathroom; he's had a weird stomachache since Jenny told him about the pill last night. "I assumed it was okay, because the truck ahead of me made it through. I was only following."

"Your Honor, the conditions were treacherous." Next to him Jack pipes in -self--assured and authoritative. "If you look at the accident report, the officer even made note of it."

Bored and gray-bearded, the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What do you imagine the relationship between Connor and Jack was like when both of their parents were alive? What about when only their mother was alive?
  2. What does this title mean? What "accidents" happen, and do you agree that they are accidents? Or are Jack and Connor fully in control of their destinies regardless of their pasts?
  3. Where do you think the climax of the novel occurs and why? Do Jack and Connor ever reach any understandings about each other? If so, what might some of those understandings be?
  4. What motivates Jack's and Connor's infidelities? Are those motivations the same or different?
  5. What effect does the irregular passage of time ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

There's something slightly addictive about this debut novel - something that kept me reading even though not much really happens. it even kept me reading past the teenage sex scene in the first chapter ... Goldhagen describes the family bonds so vividly that it's impossible not to be drawn into her characters' lives. I bet there's many a reader who's finished this novel with a tear in the eye, and picked up the phone to make a long-overdue call to a sibling!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (232 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Unsentimental and emotionally riveting, this is a portrait of the love between people who are not particularly good at loving.

Kirkus Reviews

An unwavering focus on daily life, of the dog-to-the-vet, trip-to-the-convenience-store variety, makes the characters' lives seem real, but also pedestrian. The story's merit is neither on the level of events, which are relatively unexciting, nor of language .... The pervasive emphasis on kindness and responsibility is what gives this book its value.

Library Journal - Leann Restaino

Goldhagen does a wonderful job of describing the familial bond and all the ups and downs and oddities that we consider family. This would also make a good book group selection. Highly recommended.

Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson

In this immensely assured first novel, Goldhagen uses a wealth of skillful techniques to create an indelible portrait of the flawed but loving Reed brothers.

Author Blurb Bill Roorbach, author of The Smallest Color and Big Bend
Jack and Connor are by turns joyous and sad, wise and foolish, fragile and tough, kind and mean, even cruel—but they are always human, always fresh, always surprising, always lovable even when we least want to love them.

Reader Reviews
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Shari Goldhagen is a native Ohioan who holds a lot of writing degrees from Big Ten Schools in the Midwest: A journalism degree from Northwestern and an MFA from Ohio State. She currently lives in New York City where she teaches fiction and works as a freelance writer.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Family and Other Accidents, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  129Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.