Palisades Park

Palisades Park

Large Print - 2013
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"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."
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Wheeler Publishing, 2013
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781410457172
Characteristics: 707 pages (large print) ; 23 cm


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Aug 16, 2017


Dec 05, 2013

My what a fast and delicious read. We are taken on a roller coaster ride through generations of families and a country, through WWI to Korea, shared with us using the sub culture of life at New Jersey's Palisades Amusement and Pleasure Park. Life's joys and tragedies are revealed through an exotic cast of characters of the Park. A fat lady, high divers on fire, tattooed people, buskers, french fry vendors, corrupt police, creative marketers, park owners and park goers...Just like the country, the families grow up, experience death and birth, making money, losing money and more importantly losing their innocence and rose-colored glasses...yet they march forward digging deep into their pockets for the next handful of hopes and dreams. We have damaged soldiers, Hawaiian tiki bars, lawless mobsters, fires, temptation, poison snakes, charming carousels, committed mothers, wanderlust, imagination and long swims across the Hudson. Because I did not read the summary prior to reading the book, it was a real pleasure for me at the end to discover that this is an historic fiction. I learned that Palisades Park and it's outlandish characters were real. It tickled me to think that the 80 year old high diving woman, on the road in her tiny bus, was once alive with her feet on this earth. A reminder of the tenacity, courage, creativity and visions that are the cornerstones of the American Dream. Highly recommend.

jeanner222 Jun 07, 2013

Brennert is the author of two spectacular novels set in Hawaii: Moloka’i and Honolulu. I loved Moloka’i, so my expectations for his latest effort were very high.

Palisades Park is definitely a novel more focused on setting, rather than characters. Or, the setting is a character, the main character. That’s kind of disappointing.

Anyway, PP spans from the 1920s to the 1970s and focuses on one family’s experiences with the park. Eddie Stopka attends the park once as a child and returns as an adult and concessionaire. Half of the novel focuses on his story.

The other half of the novel focuses on Eddie’s daughter. Antoinette “Toni” Stopka grows up at the park and dreams of becoming a high diver. And for Toni, that dream becomes a reality.

Along the way, there is a lot of family drama and quite a few growing pains. Outside of the park, there are wars to be fought, and Stopka men will fight them.

Initially, this novel did not appeal to me. Fortunately, when the focus switched to Toni, my opinion of the novel changed. I loved Toni and her diving aspirations. This is a wonderful tribute to Palisades Park and an engaging summer read. Give it a chance!

librarycats Apr 30, 2013

I enjoyed it, almost as much as Brennert's other two novels. Perhaps it is because I grew up on the East coast, knew people like the characters in the book, their expressions and culture. I also visited the park in 1969 and 1970. My sister and I agree, that we wouldn't recommend the book to everyone, but we did like it. I feel the author writes a good story and one that compelled me to read.

Apr 28, 2013

Certainly not to be compared to his other 2 books. It's a nice stroll down memory lane for the author with characters set up after actual people who lived and worked at the Park. Naturally, the family depicted in the story are fictional. Nevertheless, I found it less than stellar. You'd have to read it yourself to see if you agree that it's hardly worth the 'read'.


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