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Family and Other Accidents: A Novel

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  347 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Separated by a decade and 200 points on their SAT scores, Jack and Connor Reed have a life in the Cleveland suburbs held together by spit and Chinese takeout. With his self-absorbed, over-the-hill parents dead by his twenty-fifth birthday, Jack has abandoned his own plans and returned to his parents’ house where he works marathon hours at his late father’s law firm, beds y ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Eggs by Jerry SpinelliScrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad BarkleyBest Food Writing 2013 by Holly HughesThumped by Megan McCaffertyFamily and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen
Eggs on the Cover
5th out of 35 books — 2 voters
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussTwilight by Stephenie MeyerThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee BenderThe Cupcake Queen by Heather HeplerMake Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Food on the Cover
395th out of 639 books — 311 voters

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Community Reviews

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This is a great character driven novel about 2 brothers, Jack and Connor Reed whose parents die within a few years of one another leaving 25 year old Jack as 15 year old Connor's legal guardian.

The book starts with Connor at 17 and Jack at 27 and tells the story of their lives right up until Connor's 40th birthday party.

The characters are flawed, making them that much more human and that much more likable. It's an excellent look into the ties of family that bind us and how those binds sometimes
I recently read the author's latest book and I was so sad to let those characters I was thrilled to find out she had a previous novel. I wasn't disappointed. Shari Goldhagen is great at giving depth to the stereotypical people we all know (and love) in life-- the overachieving wife, the man-boy who lost his parents too young, the guy who can't commit-- allowing you to understand not only the people in the story but also maybe the people you encounter every day. I also love her ability to ...more
Robin Nicholas
This a book that grew on me. Jack and Conner are brothers, 10 years apart. When Jack is 25 and Conner is 15 they are left to fend for themselves when their mother dies 8 years after their father has died. Jack has to take on the roll of caregiver/parent/brother to Conner. Jack is a workaholic, womanizer who really has no time or know-how to take on this role, which basically leaves Conner on his own. The story follows their lives over the next 25 years. The author has an interesting style which ...more
Stacey Palevsky
The book's narrative is incredibly unique. It's all third-person, but the plot unfolds through the eyes of numerous characters. I loved Jack and Connor, the brothers at the center of the storm, and how the author shared with readers 25 years of their lives. A fast and absorbing read, even though nothing really happens - there is no clear story arc, no conflict-climax-resolution in this book. It's very character-driven. My only complaint is that the ending was sort of lame. Otherwise, though, a b ...more
Die Geschichte der beiden sehr unterschiedlichen Brüder Jack und Connor, deren Leben man über einen Zeitraum von ca. 25 Jahren begleitet. Dabei geht es um Familie, Liebe, Zusammenhalt, aber auch um Trauer, Verlust und Tränen.
Mich hat dieses Buch sehr berührt – die Entwicklung der beiden Brüder, erst ihr gemeinsamer Lebensweg nach dem Tod der Eltern, dann die unabhängige Entwicklung voneinander in ihren eigenen Liebesbeziehungen und mit unterschiedlichen Lebenszielen – bis sich am Ende der Kreis
This book traces the lives of two brothers whose parents die young leaving the twenty-six-year-old brother in charge of his fifteen-year-old sibling. The book follows the next twenty-five years of their lives as they date, marry, divorce (both brothers are serial womanizers), have children, get back together with their exes, etc. Goldhagen’s prose reminds me of Richard Ford’s prose in its clarity and realism. By the end of the book, you understand each character’s personalities, strengths, flaws ...more
I liked the basis of this book but the characters ruined it for me. By the end of the book both men had cheated (like it's a normal thing to do) and ruined the happy families that could have been. Really, everything was just dragged on and on in the book and then ruined in the end by that plot.
When their parents die within a few years of each other, Jack Reed is forced to take legal guardianship of his ten-year-junior brother Connor. The story traces these two brothers from their early years together, when Jack, 25, was the acting parent for his 15 year-old brother, through the moments that lead them both into their twilight years. Along with the women who become intertwined with their lives, Mona and Laine, the brothers work through hatred, betrayal, disappointment, anger, frustratio ...more
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This is beautifully written, especially for a first book. I think some stories you need to read at certain times in your life for them to resonate. I kept thinking of how if I had read this in college, or just after, it would have resonated more with me, I think. Like Lorrie Moore's Who Will Run The Frog Hospital stuck with me so much then, and I wouldn't want to read it now in case that spell would be cracked. In the case of this book, I was just disappointed because I have read or seen so many ...more
This book is about two brothers who lose their parents at a young age. Jack is the oldest (and in my opinion, his last name should have been Ass. Conner is the younger brother that Jack raises. Jack became a high powered lawyer and throws his money...he and Mona (his wife)live in the same high rise as Oprah. Conner gets married, gets very sick. Divorces his wife. Jack pays all of Conners medical expenses. (Shocker.) I assume Conner dies soon, but the book never says. I didn't get this book. I ke ...more
'Family and Other Accidents' is the story of two brothers, Connor and Jack, who are orphaned at 15 and 25 and how their lives intersect over the course of 25 years. The brothers' relationship is based on avoidence, distance (emotional and geographic), things-not-said, and the older brother writing checks to the younger. Because of this, it takes a good 100 pages to build up enough story for them to fill out into fully realized characters. The wait is worth it because the last 180 pages are deves ...more
This book was truly incredible. I must admit that I had started this book several months ago, but was not in the right emotional mind frame. This is the kind of book that makes you question the relationships that you have in your life. It was nothing short of thought provoking. The journey with the characters almost felt therapeutic and I am saddened to realize that I will never know if Jack and Mona got back together or if Connor lived a long life. This was a very insightful recommendation from ...more
Laura Perez
This novel has the family tale told from mostly the male perspective. Two brothers born ten years apart forge their family together after their parents deaths and then separately as they move through adulthood.

The middle of the story drags a bit, and none o the characters are people you would like much in real life, but they are very believable.

The ending chapters are truly the best written, and that may be because the author switches to female character POV.
Mai Ling
I was tempted to give this book five stars because I liked it that much, but I feel like I should save that high mark for literary masterpieces. This isn't a masterpiece, but it's such an interesting portrait of two brothers, with each chapter a snapshot of their lives from adolescence into adulthood. Maybe it's because they seem so real and so flawed. Apparently this book isn't very widely liked, so I don't know if I would recommend it to anybody, but I LOVED it!
This is not my usual fare and I can't remember how I heard about it but I'm delighted I did. Connor is a pre-teen when his mother dies and a teenager when his father dies. It's left to his brother, Jack, 10 years his senior to stand in as his family. Goldhagen chronicles the ups and downs of this relationship over several decades in fascinating chapters that nearly stand on their own as short stories. It's really kind of fascinating to read.
Nov 24, 2007 Neal rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: she woman man haters
This book is another one that I found to be disappointing. It follows the life of two brothers that are 10 years apart in age. They grow up and date and marry and have problems. This book is kind of depressing and makes men look bad. The main male characters don't have very many redeemable characteristics and you don't really root for them. It's probably very real and accurate, but it doesn't make for a fun read.
Trish Ryan
From a technical standpoint, this is a well-written, compelling story. But wow, it was tough to read. The characters are just such awful people, and even the good ones turned on each other until the ending just felt like a big car wreck. And yet the author kept me turning the pages, rather than just giving up, so I guess that's something. Still though, I feel like this was a book I survived, rather than enjoyed.
Glenda Stansell
Such a long dissappointing way to get to a simple truth. You watch two dysfunctional brothers grow from adolescents to older men, seeing the mess they make if their lives which makes a mess of their children's lives. In the end..they realize that all they have to give to each other is family ..and that was their inheritance from life and they never knew it.
This book had interesting characters even if none of them had high morals. I liked the book but found it disappointing that no one seemed to take their marriages very seriously. I did enjoy reading about the relationship between the two brothers, esp. with them being 10 years apart in age. That part was well thought out and well written.
Mary P.
I immediately liked this book because of all the Cleveland references. I also liked and cared about the characters. However, what I didn't like what how years of time were skipped over with only a mere sentence to explain the passage of time. I really wanted to know what happened to the characters when I finished the book.
Jul 26, 2007 Lucy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
i picked this book off the shelf without a recommendation and it was actually good! that hasn't happened in a while. it's about two brothers and told alternately from each of their perspectives as they grow up (or not), starting from when their mother dies and the elder brother moves home to take care of the younger.
Daphne Atkeson
A story of two brothers orphaned when one was 15, the other 25 or so, through 2 decades. Not quite the power of other family dramas I've praised, since one is emotionally stunted, unable to share love, but tender and powerful to the end. Brilliant writing, but almost so understated as to feel flat.
I picked this on a whim at the library because I liked the cover. It's a good read about two brothers, Jack and Conner, and their relationship over 30 years. The author graduated from OSU with an MFA. She has excellent insights into male relationships and the bonding that can occur between brothers.
A unique style of writing--some places where the author slows down and spends quality time with her characters (real people you will enjoy spending time with) and other places where she speeds through and skips entire years of their lives. I was intrigued by this in terms of craft.
I forgot I'd read this. Goldhagen does a remarkably good job at handling the passage of time, moving effortlessly between the years. That said, I was only mildly curious to see this book to the end. One could get through it rather easily as airplane reading, though.
A nice little book which might have been better if I had brothers and could relate more. Good characters, well-written, pretty believable relationships ... a few tears were invoked. The end left me melancholy and somewhat unsatisfied, which was a teense lame.
Kathryn it in about 2 days. i was surprised this was written by a female author as it told the story of 2 brothers. i liked that it was a story of 25 years of their lives and not just a little snippet...made the read quicker and more interesting
I don't know why I didn't stop this book half way through. It was just not a good book for me, IMO. And yet I worked my way through it and finished it. The end was no better than any other part of it. I was hoping the end would be good! Oh well.
I've recommended this one to others and they've found it probably is, but a classic coming-of-age story that I realize the older I get becomes more and more realistic. Plus told from many characters' perspectives, which I enjoy.
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After serious pursuits of literature at Northwestern (BSJ) and Ohio State (MFA), Shari Goldhagen discovered she had a knack for sifting through celebrity trash and worked as a gossip writer for publications including The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, and Life & Style Weekly. And her articles on pop culture, travel and relationships have appeared everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse. She h ...more
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