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.
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.
Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)
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.
Sarah C. (Cape Girardeau, MO)
A thoroughly enjoyable story of a close knit community. Not your average one, in fact one that people of my age were warned to stay away from. Issues are faced and resolved, difficult life situations addressed, some resolved, some just lived with. Having lived in the middle of the era the book is set in, I can say the author is spot on with the times and morays. Also having lived in Hawaii for 20 years, he has that culture spot on. I would recommend this to anyone. Good solid read!
Marjorie W. (Bonita Springs, FL)
Couldn't put it down. I read this book over a weekend and was sorry to have it come to an end. Alan Brennert has continued in the manner in which he started with Molokai and Hawaii - an entertaining fictional portrayal of history. I will be suggesting Palisades Park to my book club.
Martha D. (Poway, CA)
A window to a time gone by
I'll own up to having fantasies about this time period and place. So, right away, this book had me. I loved the characters, they jumped off the page and became real to me. The story flowed and made me nostalgic for a time and place I didn't know but wish I did. Now I feel I do know it. Wonderful book, I highly recommend it.
Sue J. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Characters were great and the history in the story was really interesting. I learned a lot about amusement parks and the lives of the people working them.Toni starts out selling homemade french fries in her parents stand as a kid and ends up being a high diver performing spectacular stunts. Palisades Park kept my attention from the first to the last page. I definitely recommend this book.