Bestseller Alan Brennert's spellbinding story about a family of dreamers and their lives within the legendary Palisades Amusement Park
Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world's biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.
But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.
Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert's Moloka'i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn't.
Brennert (Moloka i) grew up in the shadow of this New Jersey amusement park and wrote the book as a love letter to Palisades and to a bygone age. Opening in 1922, when young Eddie Stopka visits the park, and closing in 1974, with Eddie s daughter witness to its demolition, the novel traces the ups and downs of this classic park during its heyday and of the Stopkas similarly variable fortunes. When Eddie s home life falls apart, he returns to Palisades determined to recapture the sense of wonder he felt there as a young boy and soon marries fellow concessionaire Adele, a former child actress who still dreams of the stage. Various challenges fire, war, protests, and infidelities shape not only the Stopkas but also the park. The couple s daughter, Toni, demonstrates the best qualities of her flawed parents in her dedication to becoming a high diver rather than simply relying on her looks. Brennert convincingly incorporates into the narrative authentic figures and anecdotes about the park, and creates a real emotional pull in his evocative descriptions of the eccentric, hardworking people who made up the Palisades family in good times and in bad. Announced first printing of 100,000.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fast, interesting read
I was told to read the book by a friend, once started I couldn't put it down, it brought back fond memories of time spent at the park with my friends many years ago.
Loved every word. This book brought back my childhood, especially swimming in the pool. I grew up in Fort Lee from 1946 and lived 3 blocks from the GW bridge. I didn't want this book to end because I knew when it did I wouldn't be a kid any more! ThNk you from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to share it with my big brother!!!
Wonderfully written, impossible to put down, and the detail transports you right back into the thick of things. Make this book a priority for your collection.