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
  • First Published:
    Apr 2006, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A finely nuanced, universally resonant portrait of the ties, however strange or awkward, that bind two brothers and their families together through the decades.

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 Review

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 (184 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:

  • Fortunate Son jacket

    Fortunate Son

    by Walter Mosley

    Published 2007

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    In a riveting story of modern-day resilience and redemption, two boys, as close as brothers, confront separate challenges, and when circumstances reunite them years later, draw on their extraordinary natures to confront a common enemy and, ultimately, save their lives.

  • A Long Way Down jacket

    A Long Way Down

    by Nick Hornby

    Published 2006

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.