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Palisades Park (2013)
(Book)

Call Number FICTION/BRENNERT,A


Available
(1 hold on 1 copy)
LocationCall NumberItem Status
FictionFICTION/BRENNERT,AAvailable
Published: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2013
Edition:  First edition
Description:  421 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN/ISSN: 9780312643720 (hbk.), 0312643721 (hbk.),
Language:  English


Sharing a family life in the 1930s near the legendary Palisades Amusement Park, a family of dreamers explores ambitions and cultural boundaries that are challenged by the realities of the Great Depression, multiple wars, and the park's eventual closing in 1971

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Working class families -- Fiction.
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Added--201304 afic

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A Pleasant Read


“The park slumbers through the long winter, weighed down by ice and snow, dreaming of spring…..as it drowses beneath its quilt of snow, it dreams of all the people who flocked to its midways: men, women and especially children, the joy the park brought them, the laughter that was like oxygen for the park, which breathed it in as it floated up from the Cyclone, the Funhouse, the Wild Mouse, the Carousel.”

Through a look at the amusement park, Palisades Park, over several decades, we learn about history, the park itself & a family that very well could have actually worked there. The story focuses on a family – The Stopkas – and through their eyes, we learn the history of the park. Eddie Stopka owns a French Fry stand at the park & marries Adele.  Adele helps Eddie at the fry stand. They have two children, Antoinette & Jack. The story takes us through the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean War, a divorce, segregation/integration, and much more. It has been said that Alan Brennert’s novel is more “nostalgia fiction” than historical fiction. 

Because of the novels nostalgic style, you feel like there are certain topics in the book that you want to read more about. You want more meat to the stories within the story (but I don’t want to spoil these little stories & divulge anything further). It’s a pleasant read, if you don’t mind a little strong language.  It really makes you think about what used to be controversial family-wise versus what we think of as controversial in today’s age. It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes look at an amusement park & makes me think of the good old days of Riverview Park & Kiddieland here in the Chicago area. It makes me want to read more about now-defunct amusement parks & their histories.

You may be familiar with the author’s previous novel “Moloka’I” which was a book club sensation.

Palisades Park


This is an charming story that vividly evokes a time and place -- Palisades Park, NJ during its heyday (1920's-1971). I could smell the French fries soaked in vinegar and hear the crank of the old wooden roller coaster.    The Stopkas were a family who lived, dreamed and suffered.  Each one of them brought something important to the story.  Through it all, the park anchored them and allowed them to dream bigger dreams.  As decades pass, they live through a Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II and the Civil Rights movement.  The scenes at Palisades Park when blacks attempted to swim in the all white pool were expecially powerful.  Toni is a strong willed, beautiful, daredevil diver who repeatedly had to make tough life decisions. She and her dad were the most likeable characters for me.  The story unfolded at a somewhat slow pace, but never lost its sense of place.   Overall, this is an engaging, entertaining read. I would recommend this book to those that know the pleasure of walking through the gates of an amusement park and being overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells.  It is all here in Alan Brennert's book!  

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