Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lake Effect” as Want to Read:
Lake Effect
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lake Effect

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  178 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Great Lakes Book Award and the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library

Raised in an affluent suburb on the North Shore of Chicago, Rich Cohen had a cluster of interesting friends, but none more interesting than Jamie Drew. Fatherless, reckless, and lower middle class in a place that wasn’t, Jamie possessed such an irresi
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by Vintage (first published April 8th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lake Effect, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lake Effect

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jennifer Lindsay
Jan 07, 2017 Jennifer Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, midwestern
I really enjoyed this memoir. it was funny and authentic and honest and I loved all of the chicagoland references.
Sep 13, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I'm a bit biased when it comes to boys' coming of age stories. Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies, and I just really like that genre. This is the first memoir I've ever read, so I can't really compare it to anything else. However, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Basically this dude (Rich Cohen) talks about his senior year of high school through his late 20s. The heaviest focus is the senior year, and first year of college, and most all of it focuses on h
Aug 04, 2011 Trevians rated it it was amazing
I guess I know Rich Cohen in a roundabout way, since I worked with New Trier students in the 1980s. The picture of his friends on the cover includes a friend of his, (ironically named Jamie) though not the kid Jamie Drew is based on. (I have a suspicion he is who Tom Pistone is based on.) I have been working with North Shore teenagers for 40 years, and the book forced me to remember some of the 50 or so special kids who touched me, not just for their unusually intense angst, the unusual lack of ...more
Jan 09, 2011 Steve rated it it was ok
Nice story of growing up on the North Shore of Chicago suburbs. But Cohen never fills out Jamie enough to make me understand why he is so admired. He often talks about the "great things" Jamie has done, but never describes them. When he does it comes off as nothing more than sophomoric, drunk/drugged hijinks. When he does give us some of Jamie's talk it comes of as simple stoner BS. And I have a real problem w/ white suburban kids so in love w/ Chicago blues, pontificating on how this is the "re ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: male-friendship
The book recounts the author’s years growing up in the 1980s in Glencoe, a Chicago suburb, and subsequently his student years in New Orleans, but really centres on his best friend Jamie. It is evocative of the period and full of memorable imagery. Jamie is an extraordinary and delightful character, and the remarkable platonic friendship he and the author Rich enjoy is beautifully recounted. This is a book which repays careful reading, not one to be hurried. It reveals much insight, and while the ...more
Nov 15, 2007 ba rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: 30-40-ish people from Chicago's North Shore
Imagine you grew up in Glencoe, and you tried to write a Keruac novel in the style of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Upon finishing your manuscript, you soaked it in a rusty bucket of piss and jitterbug perfume in the backyard for a few days. Then you let it dry in the sun, until the piss-smell is only evident within inches of the paper...

Ok, it's not all that bad. I read it all the way through, and enjoyed it for the most part. I found the style tiresome, but you may not. All the dialog is repo
Sep 30, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok
I was excited to read this regional great lakes set memoir for book club but it didn't hook me. There were good moments on the lake and some good writing and easy reading but this writer and I had totally different lives and made very different decisions in life (drugs being one, sex another). It was hard for me to relate to him and I was a little excited because we both grew up in the same time frame. Maybe it's the guy thing. I thought I was getting over that--I-can-only-read-girls-because-I-d ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Dana rated it liked it
This is a good book, especially if you have grown up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan (north of the city of Chicago), which I have. You know what Mr. Cohen is talking about and you know the places he describes. It hits home because of the way the "North Shore" was and still is. It's worth the read for anyone with difficulties growing up and those who are from this area.
Brandon Will
Feb 20, 2009 Brandon Will rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Charts the course of one of those life-changing friendships. The kind that form and shape both involved, even when the friendship becomes little more than a reminder of what it used to be, and a guage to how far life as moved as the horizons of adolescent possibility have narrowed into the present day what is.
Aug 09, 2008 Theo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Descriptions of moments and places that made me feel I was in these places never visited, moments never experienced. Hit home on a number of levels having grown up in the 80's. Explores the quiet growth and accompanying pain of male friendships.
Jul 06, 2007 Andrew rated it really liked it
At some point in their lives, everyone meets someone cut from that blueprint Cohen fleshs out here in Jamie Drew. Lake Effect captures, in his own words, "what happens to such friendships when the afternoon runs into evening." A simple and beautiful memoir.
Apr 06, 2013 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
God, this book is gorgeous. I didn't know if I'd like it, since it is billed as being about friendships between boys, and that is not false billing, but the writing is great, and that tone a perfect mix of nostalgia and something else. Maybe pride? Maybe love?
Aug 14, 2008 Kim rated it it was ok
Not much going for this dull autobiography. Only kept my interest because he is talking about the area where I live, so the name dropping kept it tolerable.
Aug 30, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
He nailed it.
Mar 19, 2011 Alex rated it it was ok
could relate to this book somewhat,about the same age although different place, and country.
Feb 06, 2009 Nancy rated it did not like it
This is the memoir of a young Chicago man reflecting on his high school / early college days and one particular friendship
James Spada
Oct 07, 2008 James Spada rated it it was amazing
a wonderful gift from my friend Adam.
Holly Patton
Aug 29, 2012 Holly Patton rated it really liked it
beautiful adolescent to adult story...very intimate peek into a guys head and heart.
Sue Kozlowski
Jewish man Rich grows up in Chicago suburbs. Jamie is his friend even though he is much lower class. Are friends throughout life.
Karen Backe
Aug 24, 2007 Karen Backe rated it liked it
Because I grew up in the same h.s. district at the same time as the author I mostly enjoyed this read for its yearbook aspect.
Jan 17, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
A great read about growing up in Glencoe, a wealthy suburb north of Chicago, in the 80s, and the author's friendship with another young man not born into the same world of privilege as himself.
Mar 21, 2008 Toby rated it liked it
Recommended to Toby by: Steve Cohen (author's brother)
Great for anyone who grew up on the north shore of Chicago.
Sep 16, 2009 Nancy rated it it was ok
Memoir of growing up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. Self absorbed, but well written.
Jul 25, 2009 Clare rated it did not like it
read half way and got tired of him being impressed by himself - first 20 pages were entertaining...
May 23, 2007 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
the story of my childhood.
Sarah Mae
bought this book at The 99 Cent Store because it has advance praise from Liz Phair
John Albrite
John Albrite rated it it was ok
Nov 19, 2016
Vicki rated it it was ok
Jan 11, 2015
Sheri rated it really liked it
Jul 30, 2014
Julie rated it it was amazing
Apr 08, 2008
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean
  • Midwife: A Calling
  • This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists
  • Split Image: the Life of Anthony Perkins
  • Bowling Across America: 50 States in Rented Shoes
  • Unafraid of the Dark: A Memoir
  • Openly Bob
  • The Confession
  • Passion of Michel Foucault
  • When I Knew
  • Apartment Therapy: Complete and Happy Home
  • All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache
  • Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste
  • Mishima: A Vision of the Void
  • Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life
  • Lovable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You
  • The World According to Mimi Smartypants
  • Design Mom: A Room-by-Room Guide to Living Well with Kids
RICH COHEN is the author of Sweet and Low (FSG, 2006), Tough Jews, The Avengers, The Record Men, and the memoir Lake Effect. His work has appeared in many major publications, and he is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. He lives with his family in Connecticut.

For more information, please see
More about Rich Cohen...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »