Read Palisades Park by Alan Brennert Online


Bestseller Alan Brennert's spellbinding story about a family of dreamers and their lives within the legendary Palisades Amusement ParkGrowing 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. ToniBestseller Alan Brennert's spellbinding story about a family of dreamers and their lives within the legendary Palisades Amusement ParkGrowing 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....

Title : Palisades Park
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250038173
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Palisades Park Reviews

  • Diane Yannick
    2019-04-06 12:20

    My rating is 4.5 to be exact. This book was just a good old fashioned read. For me, that never goes out of style. There are no moral dilemmas that you have to unravel. There are no symbolic flights of fancy leaving you wondering if you are missing big chunks of meaning. There is no show-offy writing that makes you pay more attention to the writing than the plot.What you do have is an engaging 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 clank of the old wooden roller coaster. As a child in the 50's I clearly remember the huge appeal of amusement parks----food, smells, ballys, creaky rides, daring stunts and freaky sideshows. This book did much more than take me back there; it let me I side the inner workings.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 salt water pool were especially powerful. Toni is a strong willed, beautiful, daredevil diver who repeatedly had to make tough life decisions. She and her dad were the most engaging characters for me. The story unfolded at a comfortable pace, never losing its sense of place.I became an Alan Brennert fan after reading Molokai. As with that wonderful story, he meticulously researches his topic (helped that he grew up a mile from Palisades Park) then creates a delicious story. As a reader, I so appreciate writers who spend time crafting their stories and don't try to churn out books in quick succession. I will look forward to his next book. I expect it will be worth the wait.

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-04-12 17:42

    WINNER: BEST BARGAIN BOOK OF 2015!I picked up this book at my local BAM for $6, and it's one of those rare occasions where I would have happily paid full price for a clearance rack book. Palisades Park covers the lives of the Stopka family over the course of four decades, and how the titular amusement park factors into their existences. I enjoy stories that take place over lengthy periods of time and carnival/amusement park stories. It's no wonder I enjoyed Palisades Park as much as I did.I grew up in a household that was essentially an extension of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. My father loved his John Wayne Westerns, Old Yeller and Shane, and my mother loved her TMC and AMC flashback classics, like The Greatest Show on Earth and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Palisades Park took me back to my childhood, back to sitting in front of our floor set watching these big-budget black-and-white movies with ensemble casts. This is the first book I've ever read that felt like it was filmed in black and white and Technicolor at the same time. Read it. You'll see what I mean. What I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did was Alan Brennert's enthusiastic love for all things Hawai'i. My grandmother, a belly dancer until the day she died in 2011, had this challenge she offered all of her grandkids. If you graduated high school, you got a trip to Hawai'i, all expenses paid. The only caveat was that you had to go with her. Whatever. It was Hawai'i and it was free. None of those who went complained. Unfortunately, I was one of the only grandkids to miss the opportunity. I had to drop out of school my junior year to help my mother make ends meet. She'd broken her knee at work while descending wet stairs, and while workman's comp took care of 66% of her income, it wasn't enough. At that point in my life, we were living paycheck to paycheck, and not having that other 34% hurt. Badly. So I went to work stuffing the broiler at Burger King for as many hours as child labor laws allow a sixteen year old to work. I eventually went on to get my GED and go to college, but I'd missed my chance at a free ride to Honolulu. Reading about Eddie Stopka's time on the islands during his stint in the Navy made me, for the first time, regret not getting that trip to Hawai'i. There's nothing I could have done to fix it, short of letting my family starve, but I didn't know how much that missed opportunity meant to me until I read this book. Brennert obviously adores the islands, as his rich descriptions and tangible passion shows page after page. One day, when my kids are both old enough to enjoy it, I'll take my trip into the South Pacific. While I'm there, I'll lift a glass to my grandmother, the woman who bought me my first electric guitar and told me to be whatever made me happy and damn the rest of the world, and wish that she was there. My, I do ramble at times, huh? Sorry to all those who started reading this expecting a detailed review, but that's not really my bag. I attach books to memories, and my memories attach themselves to books. The good, the bad, the absolutely unreadable, they have all marked my life in some way. Palisades Park will always remind me of my grandmother. Thanks, Mr. Brennert. In summation: Palisades Park is a touching story magically and masterfully told. If Palisades Park in its heyday is where you want to be, brothers and sisters, Alan Brennert will take you there. It might take you a few other places, as well. I wish you all a pleasant journey. Final Judgment: Breathtaking and heartbreaking and wonderful.

  • Amanda
    2019-04-17 17:26

    December 2012PLEASE let this be as good as Honolulu and Moloka'i!May 2013This is a hard book to review. Alan Brennert became one of my favorite authors after reading Moloka'i and Honolulu. This book was odd though in that the main character really seemed to be Palisades Park. The rest of the main characters seemed to be supporting roles. I do think they were well developed but I never could see the direction the book was going because I couldn't really tell what the book was about besides the life and evolution of the park. I'm sure this would be amazing for those familiar with the park because Brennert did such a good job with the imagery that it felt like I was there hearing the sounds and smelling the carnival food. Compared to Honolulu and Moloka'i where there was a definite storyline this one seemed more like just a sequence of events. The only part of the book that bothered me was Adele. Definitely not a big fan of hers. Ultimately I enjoyed the book because I enjoy the way Alan Brennert writes. I will definitely pick up his next book hoping he steers back toward the great storylines that make him one of my favorites.

  • George
    2019-03-25 15:37

    CAPTIVATING NOSTALGIA.“Evenings at the Stopka home, as in most homes in America, revolved around the welcoming voice of the radio—a tall, mahogany-veneer Philco console, standing solemn as a church organ in the corner, the family gathered round in secular congregation.”—page 97/423With his third novel, PALISADES PARK, Alan Brennert has cemented his place among the twenty-or-so of my ‘top-ten’ all time favorite storytellers. He writes, in the Author’s Notes, “This novel is a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood.”—page 414/423. It is, indeed, a love letter, a delightful and warm love story of wondrous times and places, and of days gone by. New Jersey is a very long way from Hawaii (the setting for Alan’s first two beautiful novels), and I’ll admit to a twinge of disappointment when I first learned that his third would be set in Bergen County, New Jersey. I should have known better. Mr. Brennert’s storytelling doesn’t disappoint. It captivates, it enthralls, it uplifts, and it brings a tear to the eye; but it never disappoints. To tens of thousands of ‘Jersey’ kids, over seven decades—myself included on at least two occasions(1)—Palisades Park was every bit of a paradise, as Hawaii could ever have been, to their imaginations.Thank-you, A.B., for sharing the wonder and amazement. I could smell the French Fries.Recommendation: Read only if you love reading terrific stories.“I look like Emmett Kelly!”—page 101/423NOOKbook from Barnes & Noble, 423 pages(1)P.S. In the early 1960s my brother took me on my first ever, and only, (ten-minute) helicopter ride, along the Hudson River, out of Palisades Park. We had a spectacular view of the New York City skyline. During that same visit I saw Timi Yuro, one of my favorite vocalists at the time, perform. A decade earlier, I think it was at Palisades Park that I saw an act called The Riding Lion—a roaring (albeit perhaps a bit sleepy) lion sat in the sidecar of a motorcycle and was driven up and around the vertical wall of a large wooden cylinder, closer and closer to the spectators along the rim at the top. If anyone else remembers either Timi Yuro or The Riding Lion… let me hear from you. ...ged

  • Elyse
    2019-04-16 13:31

    Alan Brennert is a gifted storyteller. (As with "Molokai' and "Hololulu").This book is a wonderful tribute to the famous Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey --(a mile from where Alan himself lived as child).The characters are irresistible --The historical fiction is well researched --The family challenges between the characters feel real -- --(intimate).Visuals and smells come alive while taking this "Palisades Park" journey.For me: there were a 'few' times in the book when I wanted to 'rush-ahead' in my reading --because it seemed to me as if Alan repeated scenes more than once 'or' twice. (so I was a little impatient in those parts) --but it was 'very' few for me. ---Overall...this is a very engaging-entertaining read.Oh...and to give a little 'flavor' of a conversation between two characters in this book which I found completely charming, I'll share something Alan wrote in his book (of course out of context) ---but it brought back memories of when I was a little girl watching my older sister do her hair:"Minette lifted an inch-wide section of Toni's hair and began twisting it around in her index finger-- each loop outside the last loop --until you have a curl. Then slide your finger out and pin it in place, like this." "She laid the loop of hair flat against the side of Toni's head, then clipped a couple of bobby pins, crossing each other like an X, through it.Now You Try". I just have one question??? From whom did Alan research his 'hair' curling techniques? He was 'dead-on' with his research! lol

  • Erin
    2019-04-15 14:45

    I was really disappointed in this book. While it had a great cover and a promising concept, the writing was flat and not engaging at all. The author bit off more than he could chew with trying to encompass such a long time period and so many events in such a short novel. This book would have been better had it perhaps spanned only one summer and delved more in to the characters. As it was, the characters were unlikable and always seemed like aquaintances, rather than people you were getting to know. Also, once he got in to civil rights nonsense, I completely lost interest. As a Jersey shore girl, I was looking forward to a romp through the familiar environment of the boardwalk amusement park and instead got....not much. Most of what was presented seemed to be thrown in for cliche sake of how many references could be jammed in, with not much descriptive writing of what it's like to work at an amusement park or of the characters themselves.

  • Janet
    2019-04-11 18:24

    Alan Brennert's Palisades Park is the perfect summer read--you can almost feel the salty Atlantic air and smell the cotton candy as you read this page-turning family saga. At turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this well-written novel will fill you with a satisfying nostalgia for summer and young love.

  • Karen
    2019-03-24 10:43

    Alan Brennert won me over with “Molokai” so I was eager to read another novel by this multitalented author (+ tv producer + screenwriter). In Palisades Park, he pays tribute to the renowned Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. I was transported to the time and place of this legendary park during a volatile period in history and I felt invested in the story and its’ cast of characters. I did not want it to end. Wonderfully written.

  • Dana
    2019-04-20 17:41

    Read more of my reviews on my blog: http://fastpageturner.wordpress.comMy feelings about "Palisades Park" could best be compared with the way Clark Griswold feels when he reaches Wally World and punches the moose in the face. Despite the alluring cover art, the choppy writing and multitude of characters in "Palisades Park" wasn't for me. Although the story's heroine is Toni, the book didn't begin to focus on her life until 70 pages into the novel. The entire beginning of the novel was already slow, but then it seemed pointless as well. For example, the meeting of her parents received a lot of attention early on even though it didn't appear to be crucial to Toni's story. This book was a smattering of too many characters and plot directions, none of which worked. The major world events included in the novel really didn't seem to serve much of a point. This novel was all over the place, and was one I wish I had skipped.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2019-03-29 17:28

    Of course I'm reading this the week the carnival comes to my town. Yes I'm going. I can't resist after reading this book. Makes you crave cotton candy and you actually smell it in the air when you are reading this book. Wonderful story about a family and an amusement park from days past. I miss them.

  • Patty
    2019-04-09 13:36

    Palisades ParkByAlan BrennertMy " in a nutshell" summary...The story of a family with a long interest and involvement in an amusement park...specifically Palisades Park!My thoughts after reading this book...Amazing, satisfying, absorbing...these truly were the thoughts running through my head when I finished Palisades Park. It's a family's story woven around major world events. It begins with the Stopka family and Eddie and his dad enjoying a day at Palisades Park...eating French Fries doused in salt and malt vinegar and ends with Eddie's son Jack writing a story about the wonders of Palisades Park. But in between are wars and the Depression and Prohibition and fires and Civil Rights and rationing and infidelity and emotions and death and rebuilding and so much more. It was sort of like looking at someone's family album and learning about the lives and events surrounding that one central family. What I loved about this book...I think I loved everything...there was not a character that was not fascinating or appealing. There were tons of characters and all of them had a story. From high diving life guard Bunty to Antoinette/Toni to Mimette to Toni's mom, Adele and Eddie...Toni's and Jack's father and his Hawaiian dream...everything was interesting. Learning about the history of Palisades Park was also delightful. The author has a special affinity with this park and it shows throughout this book.Parts of the book that really made me stop and think...I though about what it was like to feel discrimination in those early years and how sad it would have been to feel so hated. Rationing...saving bacon fat to help the way effort and actually just living through that particular war era when Americans worked so hard to help the men on the front. Final thoughts...This author wrote a wonderfully informative novel. I loved that it was a leisurely reading experience. It was beautifully written and when I read the very last word of this book...I was extremely satisfied!

  • Mary
    2019-03-31 13:24

    This is the second time I am trying to write a review for this book.I grew up in New Jersey in the 1950s and 1960s. My Dad was a truck driver for Ballentine Beer and Ale that was produced in the Ironbound section of Newark, the bet city in the state. Every year my Dad would take a full car load of family to Palisades Park in Cliffside Park. "You'll never know how great a kiss can feelWhen you stop at the top of a Ferris WheelWhen I fell in love ..... down at Palisades Park."These are some of the words from a popular song in the 1970s that was written for Palisades Park.This book is the best one I have read in months, I knew every city and place that was mentioned in the book.There was a good story about Eddie Stopka who grew up in the Ironbound section of Newark and went to Palisades every summer with his mother and father, so it hit home to me. I have spend many good days at the park, one I remember was with my nieces when we decided to go on a boat ride, I was driving and hit every side of the ride and made my little niece Barbie cry and want to get off the boat. To this very day, they remind me of the Park and the infamous boat ride. Naturally, my brother in law had to take pictures of poor Barbie crying to get off. The story tells how Eddie got a job at the park and married a young lady Adele who also worked at the park. They raise their children within walking distance of the park and watch them grow up.I would recommend this book to anyone who lived near the famous parkPalisades Park!!!!!

  • Andrea
    2019-04-06 18:22

    I've been reading books all year waiting for one to captivate me. For one that I want to recommend to others. For one that when I put it down it stays with me. This is that book. Overall, it's not a gripping story. There is nothing fast paced or gimmicky. It is a solid story about a real NJ amusement park with real people, their struggles, their triumphs, their failures, their successes. It made me long to visit a place like Palisades Park. In a way it makes me think of my childhood memories of going to the shore in NJ each year. The memories, the impact on my life, the time spent with family. In this case, the family in the book is a part of the park as much as the park is a part of their lives. In fact, the park is their life - their childhood memories,, their joy, their livelihood, their sorrows, their everything. I loved this book. So often authors who "do their research" often throw in historical detail for the sake of it. So much that it is jarring and takes you out of the story. Not so with Alan Brennert. His research is meticulous, and it is woven throughout the fabric of the book so well that it transports you to this time and place spanning several decades. The events of the greater world impact life at Palisades Park and the characters in this book. That historical context was very well done and made the book real and true, while at the same time a work of fiction. I will be reading more by Alan Brennert!I loved this book.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-28 11:30

    Palisades Park apparently was a real place, I didn't do any fact checking but I assume this is at least partly factual as far as places/events that took place.Nice easy to read uncomplicated plot, no fancy symbolism, no time traveling, no needing the dictionary every five minutes for obscure show off-y words. Now, I do have a fellow reader and friend who is bothered by bad language and naughty situations so let me say right off: even though this is an old fashioned book about an old fashioned time, a simpler time. In general, morals were better than they are today, little divorce, there was shame about premarital sex, but along with that came discrimination, sexism and racism, which are, in fairness. true to the time period. BUT I have to admit, yes, there was some bad language, four letter exclamations but in particular a phrase that stood out like a giant warty toad amidst all the nostalgia, cotton candy and sea air was a phrase that did not *blend* - the men in the book kept referring to "getting some pussy" as part of casual conversation. This wasn't a 70's porno, this was a nice, homey, family type vibe book about an amusement part filled with kids during WWII and beyond. Sex scenes are glossed over or mentioned matter of factly in passing, nothing that should make anyone blush. But that kept reappearing and it was jarring. Just...ugh.But aside from that, ultimately, I had the same problem with this book as I did with Molokai. This book just meandered along. This must be the author's writing style - a long epic that follows a group of characters moving in and out of the story for oh...20-30 years, sometimes concentrating heavily on one month, then bam we've jumped ahead five years, then it pussyfoots (heh did you see what I did there?) around for awhile, then jumps ahead, then stops, the another huge leap. So - I guess - the pacing of the book is what I didn't like. Constantly, my interest waning, then returning, then waning. Just when I thought I was giving up and moving on, the author threw in a surprising twist. So, I guess I didn't know his characters as well as I should have, or I just wasn't paying attention. So I stayed to see what happened then got sorta interested in what happened to Toni. The book meandered on, their lives marched on. To me that seemed to be the main problem in this otherwise perfectly above average book.Not everyone will like this book. It's very nostalgic with lots of smaltz and cheese. Characters say stuff you have heard straight out of central casting for movies set in the 40's and 50's. Dialogue is predictable and scenes are wrapped up in traditional ways. For example, I knew the minute the Hawaiian woman came into the bar, she and Eddie would start dating. I knew the minute I met "The Red Guinea" that Toni would return to him later. The only thing that was a surprise was that a character took off and abandoned her children, but that just made me hate her. The author tried to give us some big "reveal" as to the reason she left but it was like "huh"? Made no sense to me - then she was basically gone from the story for 15 yrs until she - big surprise - reappeared at the end for the cheesy ending where everything was wrapped up in a bow and forgiven, smiles all around at the very end. I give it 3.5 stars because of the interesting subject of Palisades Park and clean descriptive imagery, but since we don't give half stars here (a terrible shame) - because of the books flaws I have to lean the other way and award a 3/5 stars.

  • Holly Weiss
    2019-03-23 18:46

    Look no further than Palisades Park by Alan Brennert for a magical place to spend happy hours of reading. Eddie and Adele Stopka, parents of Toni and Jack, sell vinegar-soaked French fries near the thunder of the Cyclone roller coaster. Toni is enthralled with the divers who do daredevil stunts in the largest salt-water pool in the world. This family of dreamers shares a love for Palisades Park, which becomes a character in itself. The park has an aura of camaraderie and daring. Vendors help each other through fire, sickness, poverty and loss. The park is populated with imaginative and creative people. Economic conditions drive the sixty-year-old high diver to attempt a dive off the George Washington Bridge to prove he still “has it”. Chief Little Wolf is an American Indian wrestler. Whitey, the ballroom manager, books black jazz musicians. Jolly Irene (six hundred and fifty pounds) says she’s not a star, but a galaxy.Once enraptured with this Palisades park microcosm, the reader is swept up into World War II, its international implications, and effects on the Stopka’s. The independence of the Stopka family members shows up early when their fearless daughter Antoinette declares ”Toni” as her new name and begins high diving at age seven much to her mother’s horror. Soon they are torn apart by world events and their own independent natures. Struggles with fidelity, life ambitions and self-doubt widen the fissures between them.The book spans 1922-1971 (the closing of the park). Some of the well-incorporated historical details include The Great Depression, President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and peacetime draft, big band music, Hitler, Pearl Harbor, Mafia hits, discrimination, and the Korean War.Alan Brennert grew up in Edgewater, New Jersey, at the foot of steep cliffs, a dramatic geologic feature near New York City. The legendary amusement park overlooks the New York City Skyline and the Hudson River. Brennert certainly knows his New Jersey history and geography. He takes us on a tour from the Hudson River down the New Jersey Turnpike to Fort Dix and the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.The book is packed with period language, distinctive personalities and is full of warmth and compassion. The Stopka family is one story, but the people of Palisades Park resound as the real stars. While we worry for the Stopka’s, we cheer for the others. We are left with with a yearning to visit the legendary park.The book is well researched (extensive citations in Author’s Note) as well as relevant because of the popularity of this legendary amusement park. Author Alan Brennert spent many happy childhood times there. Brennert is known for turning historical events and places into irresistible fiction and he is at the top of his game in Palisades Park. It’s hard to stop reading once you begin. Book groups will love this because of the extensive discussion it will prompt. New Jersey residents will appreciate his descriptions of the geography and cultural attractions. You will learn your history in this book (1922-1971) but it will be as fun as riding the Cyclone Roller Coaster. A winner!

  • Cheryl
    2019-04-06 16:37

    I was kind of amazed at how quickly I was drawn into this book. The story of the Stopka family and their lives at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey is exciting, heartbreaking and hopeful. Set in the 40's, 50's and 60's, the book touches on World War 2, the Korean War and issues such racism, PTSD and women's rights. The Stopka family works hard and stands up for what they believe regardless of the consequences. They support each other and help each other realize their dreams.

  • Cameran
    2019-04-11 16:20

    When my mother spotted me reading a book titled "Palisades Park," she immediately became animated as she told me stories of the one time she went there as a very little girl. And to me, that animation and storytelling based off of precious childhood memories is what makes this book so sensational. Eddie Stopka goes to Palisades Park for the first time in 1922 and goes on to remember that day as the best of his life. When he returns as a late teenager to find a job, the adventures he has, the people he meets, and the life he creates is what forms this story. Alan Brennert has written a sweeping family narrative that follows Eddie, his wife, his son, and especially his daughter, Toni, who wishes for nothing more than to be a female high diver. As in all stories that resonate strongly with me, this one is slow burning as the readers get to know the characters. We learn of their dreams and desires, we see how they grow and change. Since the novel spans over so many years we also catch glimpses of the changing cultural and political climate in the United States and New Jersey. Characters go to WWII and the Korean War, characters witness and participate in demonstrations to denounce segregation, characters know members of the mob -- and that is just to name a few. The storytelling was so first-rate; I felt as if I was in the park, munching on French Fries or hearing the clacking noise of the roller coasters. I was transported to another time and place, and my reading experience was all the better for it.

  • Trudy
    2019-04-05 18:32

    4.5 STARS! The author calls PALISADED PARK " a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood." It is the history of the New Jersey amusement park and its people from 1922 to about 1974. While reading this book, you will smell French fries, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and purple popsicles. You will hear the click clack of wooden rollercoasters, the screams and laughter of delighted visitors, and the lure of the concessioners. You will see high divers, oddities, vintage clothing, and blinking billboards. And in the mist of this sensual feast, you will experience the horrors of world wars, racial discrimination, organized crime, and natural and man made disasters along with love, marriage, betrayal, and forgiveness.I enjoyed this book. A great deal of the story centers around a woman high diver. At about 85%, this subject started to loose me, hence my 4.5 stars. However, the overall story was so very well written and researched I couldn't give it just 4 stars. An added plus for me is I live in New Jersey.

  • JoAnne Pulcino
    2019-03-29 14:26

    PALISADES PARKAlan BrennertFind this title on the website author of this poignant, literary saga has called his novel, “a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood”. It is that and so much more as he weaves together fact and fiction to present his readers a nostalgic look at a famous park and the hardworking people who became family through the good times and the bad.Beginning in 1922 when the park opened until 1974 for the five decades the park survived the triumph and tragedies are magically brought to life in this wonderful book. Each of these events is part and parcel of the story: The Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Civil Rights mo, New Jersey mobsters, corrupt police, a devastating fire and the impact all of these events had on the Stopka family. Eddie Stopka becomes a concessionaire whose booth sells the fragrant, delicious French fries everyone loves. He meets his wife Adele there, and they become partners in life and in their business. They have two children, Toni and Jack whose lives become a part of the park and the hardworking employees who were actual people who spent most of their lives in the park. (This is a historical touch that was a fabulous insight into the carnies, the freak shows, the rides and the people who owned and ran the park).Each of the Stopkas has dreams, Toni wants to be a high dive artist, Jack wants to be an artist and Adele wants to be in show business. Life and circumstances have a way of interfering, and following their paths is a great reading adventure.Palisades Park is a sweeping, lush and gripping tale of a family and a fabulous tribute to the famous Palisades Amusement Park.Don’t miss this one.

  • Manda
    2019-04-09 11:35

    Okay, so color me disappointed. After Moloka'i and Honolulu I was expecting something really great from Palisades Park. But all I found was that I didn't care about the characters. An endless stream of names and people were thrown at me from the beginning of the book, but I wasn't made to feel for any of them. Someone would show up in one chapter, then go away for half the book, then show up one more time before never being heard from again. There's also not a clear protagonist. Eddie? Toni? Brennert spreads so much energy over so many different characters that there's not enough time to get to know them. He tells us things about them, but doesn't show anything.Sometimes I felt like I was reading a soap opera. People were always crying or about to cry. There'd be a conflict thrown in, but it was resolved within a few paragraphs. Like Toni being upset she couldn't get a loan from the bank, but her dad cosigning for her the very next page. If there's no real conflict, it doesn't feel like a story. Things ended happily for most of the characters, they got what they wanted in the end. I mean, not that having a happy ending is a bad thing, it's just...well, part of me feels like they didn't deserve it.At times it felt like Brennert was trying to play "name the landmark in NJ" bingo. Other times if felt like an aborted alcoholic mixer tutorial, with him listing every thing Eddie put in his drinks. I'm left wondering: "where was the editor?". If you're picking this up expecting Moloka'i and Honolulu, prepare to be disappointed. If you want cheap thrills and a happy ending, this is your deal. Happy reading.

  • Pamela
    2019-04-08 12:37

    I am smitten with this wonderful novel! Character rich and atmospheric phenomenal, Palisades Park is more than just a well-written story about a New Jersey amusement park. It is a time capsule of youthful summer zeal and childlike merriment. It is a regaling of culture earmarks, landmarks, and fads. It is a story of family: hopes, dreams, ambitions, failures, successes -clinging to and letting go. But mostly, Palisades Park, in and of itself, is a key character – the guardian of memories, the springboard of courage.Whether or not intimately familiar with Palisades (being from Oklahoma, I wasn't) most Americans have fond memories of one or two county fairs, coin-arcades, fun-houses, midway concessions, magicians, roller coasters, Ferris wheels, swimming pools, and entertainment attractions in general. Readers over forty will feel gaily nostalgic from Brennert’s blending of time-capsulation facts with fluid engaging fiction. And those who aren’t yet ‘over-the-hill’ will be transported back in time to their parent’s and grandparent’s heydays. Saratoga Fries – The Human Torch – Captain America – Dance Pavilions - Pick-up Baseball - Philco Radios - The Shadow - Frank Sinatra – Revlon Red - The Jack Benny Show - Horse Divers – kingpins - WWII – Superman - RCA Television - The Tunnel of Love – Korean War - The Beach Boys – Tiki Bars and Grills. Bygone cultures, fads, and passions reignited and embraced anew, thanks to Brennert’s meticulous research and keen sense for the American heartbeat of love, hope, and courage. Cover to cover – Palisades’ Park is an astonishing, praiseworthy novel – five nostalgic stars.

  • Deon Stonehouse
    2019-03-28 13:50

    Brennert showed talent for blending the stories of individuals with a broader look at what was happening in the world around them in both Moloka’i and Honolulu. He brings that focus to Palisades Park, a legendary New Jersey amusement park. The action starts in 1922 when Eddie has a halcyon day at the park with his family, the last good day of his childhood. The story continues to the park’s dismantling in 1974. Eddie goes to work in the park in 1930, marries Adele and has two fine children. His daughter, Toni, grows up swimming like a fish in the big salt water pool, becoming a death defying high diver. As the years parade past, the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and Viet Nam all deftly impact the character’s lives. Brennert’s blending of the life of this park with the life of the characters against a backdrop of world events makes the story entertaining and very interesting. In the afterward, Brennert talks about some of the real characters he used in the book, the aspect of Toni’s amazing high dives was fascinating.

  • Deb
    2019-03-31 18:41

    Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.I thought of this quote after reading Palisades Park. You see, I loved Alan Brennert's Molokai. This is no Molokai.This book was an easy read. Perhaps that was part of the problem. I really felt nothing for the characters. They were all too perfect. It was one of those 'happily ever after' books. All of the story lines were tidy. None of the characters really had any flaw or conflict, aside from one, but even that wasn't really explored and wrapped itself up with a bow at the end. As previous reviews have stated, this is more a book with the main character being Palisades Park itself. And even so, it was not gritty enough to really feel like you were there. Whereas the author describes the park, I didn't really feel the park.This is by all means not a bad book, it's just not on par with either Honolulu or Molokai.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-28 11:46

    This book was just OK. For the first 2/3 or so I wasn't sure whose story it was supposed to be. I knew more about the park than any of the characters. It read more like a documentary and the actions of the family were just that. Dry, non dramatic actions taking place on the backdrop of the park, which is the real star. I didn't sympathize with any of the characters, I didn't buy the motivations that the author was selling. I wasn't sure why I was supposed to care for them except as props to learn more about this park. It wasn't until the last 1/3 when the sport of high diving becomes the main topic that I was actually engaged in the story. I became very curious about the park and did some research on it afterwards and I appreciated how much of its history was interwoven throughout the story, I just wish I was able to invest more in the characters themselves.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-06 12:38

    Palisades Park is an homage to the author's childhood spent near the seasonal amusement park in northern New Jersey. It's a nostalgic walk down memory lane, during the heyday of amusement parks in the 1930's through the 1970's. The story touches upon all of the major domestic and international events of the times, including the aftermath of the great depression, World War II, the Korean War, and the civil rights movement. But the character development is thin and the story is really just propelled on by a series of events in the character's lives. It's an easy, comfortable read, but I expected a lot more.

  • Mich
    2019-04-07 13:24

    Once again the author has another 5 star book in my opinion!! I LOVE the way he writes. I could smell the popcorn, cotton candy, sea air, hear the chatter and clatter of the park. EXCELLENT book to escape into!! Excellent! (I just LOVE a good book!!)

  • Lynn
    2019-04-20 17:39

    Maybe a 3.5 if I'm being generous. I loved Moloka'i and Honolulu, but unfortunately this book does not measure up to those achievements. Palisades Park is an homage to the author's favorite place of his childhood and you do get a very good sense of the park and its history, both good and bad. Many of the people mentioned in the book are in fact real people, and they are portrayed reasonably well. It's the fictional characters that seem a bit flat and one dimensional. I could not relate to any of them, especially Toni. I found her very irritating. The book spans 1922-1974 and although it ostensibly focuses on the Stopka family, the reader experiences historical events through Palisades Park, since that is where the Stopka family works. There is a little detour to Hawaii (yay!) during WWII which impacts the story later. It is hard to say who the main character is: Toni or her father Eddie or the park itself. I really wanted to like this book more, but it didn't always hold my interest. It became one of those books that you don't dislike, but you're glad when it's over. It's OK for what it is, but I know the author can do much, much better.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-01 14:38

    Nobody does historical fiction with the setting as a character better than Alan Brennert. I'm not discounting that there may be some equal to the task, but none are more masterful at taking a place, creating fascinating characters with life-long ties to that place, and mixing in the magnetizing truth of events and people with the plausible storytelling of a simulated narrative. Brennert is simply and complexly brilliant. His previous best-selling novels, Moloka'i and Honolulu are of equally epic status. Overlooking the Hudson River, Palisades Park was the legendary amusement park in Cliffside Park/Ft. Lee,New Jersey forever immortalized in the song by Freddy Cannon in 1962 entitled "Palisades Park." ( Opened in 1898 and closed in 1971, Brennert's story covers mostly the years when the park was under the ownership of the Irving and Jack Rosenthal, brothers who bought the amusement park from the Schenck brothers who went on to make history in the motion picture business. The Rosenthals were wholeheartedly committed to making Palisades Park the premier park for fun and innovation. Constantly updated, the musical element alone was a who's who of musical history, from the Big Bands of Benny Goodman to the up and coming Frankie Avalon and the Jackson Five. The rotating attractions, the imaginative rides, and the country's largest saltwater swimming pool entertained thousands over the years.Alan Brennert has inserted into this spectacle of enchantment a family of dreamers who find themselves immersed in the community of the amusement park where Eddie, the father, and Adele, the mother, met as concessionaires and after marrying opened up their Saratoga french-fries concession together. Children Antoinette/Toni and Jack grow up with Palisades Amusement Park as their daily playground. The ensconced culture of the times becomes a sweet nostalgic look at the days of listening to radio programs as a family, pin curling hair, reading comic books, and the "bobby soxer" look. And, yet, Brennert doesn't leave out the not so sweet parts, such as racial discrimination and war, which so substantially affect the country and the lives of the Stopka family. WWII impacts Eddie, Adele, and their children in ways that will linger for decades and change lives forever. The issue of civil rights is fought on the very doorstep of the amusement park with the family's belief that people are people, no matter what, put to the test. And, the dreams of youth and the dreams of adulthood are played out in an ever changing landscape of possibility. Toni's early goal of becoming a high diver after witnessing one at the park is challenged by gender expectations and family dynamics. Eddie's and Adele's dreams are not always on the same page, and Jack, sweet Jack, finds that heroes aren't always as they seem. Intertwined in the story of the Stopka family are a cast of minor characters, both real and fictional, with consuming stories of their own. Even in the physical arrangement of the book, Alan Brennert gives creative, meaningful direction. The beginning chapter, where Eddie as a child first visits the amusement park with his father, is entitled Opening Bally. The final chapter, after Pallisades Amusement Park has closed, is entitled Closing Bally. This metaphoric salute to the Park seemed somehow perfect and fully satisfying. In the author's note at the end, he states that the book is his "love letter to a cherished part of my childhood." After reading his love letter, I would conclude that he has spoken not only for those who cherished Palisades Park, but for all of us who have a special place from our childhood days that transported us into a world of magical possibilities. What's especially satisfying about an Alan Brennert novel is that they usually don't end with the last page, as the reader will become so engrossed in the setting, people, and events that you will seek out more books, fiction and non-fiction to keep your new-found love of place in motion. My suggestion is to keep your post-its tab markers handy to identify the many parts of this narrative you will want to revisit.

  • Erin
    2019-04-19 12:40

    www.quixoticmagpie.blogspot.comI love an amusement park, all of them and any of them. I even love fairs and festivals and those local fly by night carnivals. Midways, games of chance, rides, French fries, the squeals of excitement, fear, and laughter, families having fun together. For my part of the world, our Palisades Park was Boblo Island, and not a summer goes by that I don’t miss going there.In high school, we read the poem “A Coney Island Life” by James Weil, and I repeat the lines to myself on occasion – and I kept thinking of the two lines as I read this book – “Having lived a coney island life/on roller coaster ups and downs..” It so perfectly describes the lives of the characters in Palisades Park. It all began with an idyllic visit to the park with his family for Eddie Stopka, when he was just a kid. It became that brass ring of a memory that he wanted to recapture and live in for his whole lifePalisades Park was an amusement park in New Jersey, on the city lines between Cliffside and Fort Lee. It survived through wars and fire from the 1930s to the day it closed its doors in 1971. Eddie and his family are the main focus, although their story includes many other colorful characters.After living as a hobo for some years, Eddie finds himself back home and drawn to Palisades Park, where he starts his life anew. He marries Adele, has two children, Toni and Jack, and all four of their lives are mixed in with the life of Palisades Park itself. Brennert has a way of combining a small story with the events of the world at large, through all the good times and bad. He does not fail in this when it comes to Palisades Park. You feel the up and down roller coaster emotions of these characters, empathizing and rooting for them. (Except Adele!)There is just so much to say about this book, but I would prefer not to. I would prefer for you to uncover it the way I did, savoring it like a hot summer day, falling just a bit in love with it.

  • Jaime Krause
    2019-04-05 13:37

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.I'd give it a 3.5/5 stars because I don't think I'd read it again, but it was a lovely historical novel with some fiction twisted into it. Palisades Park was before my time, but it had a rich history, changing hands thrice, and was of big importance in New Jersey. Singers wrote songs about it, entertainers made their debut, and lovers even married there.(view spoiler)[I learned how crazy and paranoid the wars made people; how women's and colored rights grew; just how racist some people were, even this far from the south; what the cliques were and how some have stayed the same; and, I learned quite a bit about a park I have only heard about.The novel begins when Eddie is an older teen who runs from home and smoothly transitions into his daughter's life, ending when she is older and has children in college. Antoinette (or Toni) is a very strong female character. She and her mother, along with other women in the book, really show that even though women were "docile" in the public eye, behind closed doors (or with each other), they could cuss and talk about sex as much as we do these days.Toni's brother Jack has to deal with his own war, but his humor and love for Toni are completely evident and always made me smile.What did parents fear in those days? That comic books would make their children want to launch fireballs. It is very parallel to the fear parents have of video games and movies in today's world.I especially loved the Calculus part with Cliff. Math can be used EVERYWHERE!! (hide spoiler)]I don't know what was fictional in all of this, but the life of the park itself is real. I am passing this on to my father, who frequented the park as a child. This is a piece of New Jersey that you wouldn't want to miss.