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 fathers 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 didnt. 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 Goldhagens debut is a
finely nuanced, universally resonant portrait of the ties,
however strange or awkward, that bind families together through
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).
Unsentimental and emotionally riveting, this is a portrait of the love between people who are not particularly good at loving.
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.
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 cruelbut they are always human, always fresh, always surprising, always lovable even when we least want to love them.
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.
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