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Palisades Park

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,346 Ratings  ·  815 Reviews
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 coas ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2013)
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Seduction by M.J. RoseThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminThe Firebird by Susanna KearsleyThe Midwife's Tale by Sam   ThomasThe White Princess by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction 2013
51st out of 372 books — 2,431 voters
Palisades Park by Alan BrennertWhistling Past the Graveyard by Susan CrandallTransAtlantic by Colum McCannOur Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan David KranzHope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera
Carnival Rides
1st out of 65 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Diane Yannick
May 01, 2013 Diane Yannick rated it really liked it
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
May 03, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December 2012
PLEASE let this be as good as Honolulu and Moloka'i!

May 2013
This 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 li
Edward Lorn
Dec 30, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it it was amazing

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
Aug 14, 2013 George rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ipad, alan-brennert

“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 97/423

With 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 cher
May 12, 2013 Erin rated it it was ok
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 k ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, avid-ideas, events
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.
Apr 15, 2013 Elyse rated it really liked it
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-
Feb 06, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 27, 2013 Dana rated it it was ok
Read more of my reviews on my blog:

My 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 sl
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Sep 06, 2013 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
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.
Apr 23, 2013 Patty rated it it was amazing
Palisades Park
Alan Brennert

My " 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
Apr 26, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has been to Palisades Park
Recommended to Mary by: My niece Barbie
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 feel
When you stop at the top of a Ferris Wheel
When I fell in love ..... down at Palisades Park."

These are some of the
May 26, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing
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
May 30, 2013 Trudy rated it really liked it
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 blinkin ...more
Holly Weiss
Apr 08, 2013 Holly Weiss rated it really liked it
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 eac ...more
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 ti
May 06, 2013 Cameran rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
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 peo
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 sp ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Manda rated it it was ok
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? Br
JoAnne Pulcino

Alan Brennert

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The 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 triump
Deon Stonehouse
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Cynthia rated it it was ok
There’s nothing great about “Pacific Palisades” but there’s also nothing horrible about it. It’s a sweet story that never quite goes anywhere. I know part of my problem is I have zero interest in the circus or amusement parks and the main character’s dream from childhood on is to jump from a height into a small tub of water. The interpersonal relationships are ho hum. The story trajectory is lackluster. Where the story soars a bit is when war service and Hawai’i are mentioned.

This review is base
May 13, 2013 Mich rated it it was amazing
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!!)
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 ...more
May 14, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing

I 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 myse
Mar 10, 2013 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program.

This story follows the lives of four main characters, and many minor characters, over the course of five decades. Although the book spans fives decades beginning in 1922 and ending in 1974, the heart of the book is set during the forties and early fifties. The author masterfully weaves together the lives of his fictional characters with those of actual people and historical events. The characters are greatly affected by the
Dec 04, 2014 Jaime rated it really liked it
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)
May 23, 2013 Deb rated it liked it
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
Aug 08, 2013 Celia rated it really liked it
I think Alan Brennert is a wonderful writer, and I loved reading this book. Palisades Park is a distant memory for me, but Brennert made the history of the park into a page-turning saga. The Brits may have Downton Abbey, but we have Palisades Park, and the many characters who worked and performed there through the ages, from the 1920's until it closed in 1971, the year I graduated from high school. Brennert grew up living a mile from Palisades Park, and has written in the Author's Note that this ...more
May 06, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was ok
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 lear ...more
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Alan Brennert is the author of the historical novels Palisades Park, Honolulu (chosen one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post), and Moloka'i, which won the 2006 Bookies Award, sponsored by the Contra Costa Library, for the Book Club Book of the Year (and has sold over half a million copies since publication). He is also the author of the thought-provoking fantasy novel Time and Chance ...more
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“You make all these decisions in your life, and they all seem like the right decisions at the time. You think you're doing the right thing. And it's only later that you realize, no, they were exactly the wrong decisions, and instead of bringing you what you wanted, they only carried you even farther away from your dreams. And somehow you've got to live with that.” 9 likes
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