“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.