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Grand Opening

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  574 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Twelve-year old Brendan tells the story, set in 1944-45, that begins with his parents' decision to buy a run-down grocery store in a tiny Minnesota town. What they discover about small town idealism, bigotry, and good old American values will change them and the town forever....
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 855)
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Ruth
May 29, 2007 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
First book I have read by this author, and I plan to read more of his works. I really enjoy books set in early-to-mid 20th century small town America, which includes this one. An adolescent boy and his parents leave the big city to try their hands at running a grocery store in a small Minnesota town. There are some dark turns I wasn't expecting, and I found myself thinking about the book and its characters after I was finished. I use that as a determining factor of a book well read.
Constantine
Jul 12, 2012 Constantine rated it really liked it
I know I have a problem living in my own skin, in my own times. I'm fundamentally a nostalgic person....but oddly nostalgic for a past and place that are mine only by association and the nostalgic voice of a beloved father that was rather remote...hey, I need psychoanalysis of my dilemma. Realists would dismiss my inability to be of my own generation and time....a fool's quest, etc. All this is a preamble to saying I am predisposed to love things Minnesotan/mid western, mid century 1925-55, and ...more
Tim
Jul 15, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it
I can't improve in regard to describing Jon Hassler on the Tulsa World's review shown on the back cover of "Grand Opening": "This is Sinclair Lewis without the deep, deep bitterness." I'd also contribute: he's like a Midwestern Richard Russo (based on my tiny sample of one Russo) or Robert Inman ("Home Fires Burning" actually shares a lot of similarities). Maybe Jan Karon's Mitford series or Garrison Keillor, so I've heard (I haven't actually read either author, so what do I know?)

Well, what I d
...more
Ali
Mar 14, 2009 Ali rated it it was amazing
This is the first John Hassler novel I have read and I certainly hope it is not the last. I have read quite a few other "small town novels" and I felt that this was a much darker story than many of them. I liked this aspect as I think it gave the writing and the characters more depth. When the Foster family move to the village of Plum from the city, they encounter snobbery, spite and religious bigotry. They also brighten the life of Dodger Hicks a tragic figure, needy and unloved his life blight ...more
Jeong-Won Lee
Sep 03, 2014 Jeong-Won Lee rated it really liked it
If you told me this was a story about a real town, I would believe it.
This book is just a collection of everything. No matter how old you are, you are going to enjoy this book because it contains struggles of teenagers, young adults, middle-aged men and women, senior citizens, literally every age level.

I just really liked how it is about one of those towns that seem perfectly normal from the outside, but once you go deeper and deeper into the town, you notice these little things that annoy or b
...more
Kay Murphy
Sep 26, 2015 Kay Murphy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kay by: staff recommendations at the public library
This is the first book I've read by Jon Hassler and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a definite breath of fresh air considering the last few books I read were a complete waste of my time.

The story treats us to a wedge of time in the lives of a family whose lives are changed forever by moving to a small town and opening a business. We spend time with them learning the adjustment from large city life to that of a town where everyone knows everyone else's story. The time frame is wonderful, at th
...more
Karen
Mar 16, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
In 1944, the Foster family, Catherine, Hank, their 12-year-old son, Brendan, and Catherine's elderly father are urging a 1928 De Soto toward the town of Plum, Minn., and a time-honored American Dream: ownership of a business (they have purchased a dilapidated grocery store), a home and a sense of belonging. But Plum turns out to be a lemon; sour in spirit, pitted with religious bias and general mistrust. This book incorporates faith, morality, acceptance and belonging on many different levels. I ...more
Patti
Dec 28, 2012 Patti rated it really liked it
I got this book at a used book sale. I remember picking it up, reading the back of it and then thinking, "I don't know...sounds kind of boring." But it cost about a dollar so what the hell? The book sat on my shelf for months as I read things that sounded far more exciting (turns out that some were, some weren't). When I finally picked it up, I read it in about four days.

No, there isn't page turning, edge of your seat excitement in this book... but that is okay . I liked the slow pace and the sw
...more
Sarahlucas
Jan 19, 2015 Sarahlucas rated it really liked it
Shelves: top-25
Grand Opening follows a family as they move from the city to a small town and open a grocery store. The son of the family has a hard time adjusting to the new town and getting along with the new kids. He and his family grow in all different ways. The story is a great snapshot of human life and shows how we grow when faced with new and strange people. I loved getting to know the sweet little family and seeing the event they went through.
Samantha
Feb 03, 2010 Samantha rated it liked it
T'was an interesting Fiction read.
A story about big city people surviving small town style. I've got another Hassler book on my 'to read', I like him.
A twelve year old boy and his parents and grandfather move to Plum. Wouldn't you like to live in a town called Plum? I fell in love with the Grandfather...quite the free sprit he was! It's not a thriller by anymeans but a nice storyline and I can relate to it, being from a small town. it's an interesting thought how it must feel to 'outsiders' an
...more
Sharon Zink
May 31, 2015 Sharon Zink rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
A good story about a family moving from a Minnesota city to a village to try to run a grocery store. The venture is not a success, but not for business reasons. Not one of Hassler's best books.
Gwen
Jan 16, 2011 Gwen rated it really liked it
Everyone is so right about Hessler's ability to acquaint you with the characters. They really DO become like your neighbors. It was like visiting your home town while reading. Nice leisurely and comfortable. I was startled by the unexpected turn of events, but I should have seen it coming. I had laughed out loud and cried as I read, thoroughly enjoyed the experience of a first time business ownership, right along with them. The story ended abruptly, which is exactly as it should have, when I sto ...more
Josie
Apr 29, 2014 Josie rated it did not like it
One of the worst books I've ever read in my life. Please, save your students the misery of reading this shitty work.
Elliott Foster
Feb 15, 2015 Elliott Foster rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific fictional story that captures the heart of rural, mid-century Minnesota.
Bev Sturgis
May 17, 2015 Bev Sturgis rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terry
Jul 29, 2008 Terry rated it really liked it
The difficulties a family faces moving into a small town community and trying to fit in. I find it similar to which side of tracks you live on. People are so quick to judge others based on religion, political views, monetary values and just plain jealousy of something they made up in their minds. This book is difficult to put down.
The author identifies each character and setting so well its like watching a movie while reading the book.
Sheree
Feb 14, 2012 Sheree rated it really liked it
Family moves from the "big city" (Minneapolis) to small town with the dream of opening a grocery store. Characters are rich, especially the grandfather figure, who is beginning to have memory problems yet still comes across as a gallant and mischevious man. Character development is one of Jon Hassler's strong suits. By end of novel you feel you've really come to know and care about these people.
Carol
Jul 24, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
About small town Minnesota in the 1940s, the shadow side of Norman Rockwell paintings. The Lutherans won't shop at the Roman Catholic grocery store and vice versa. My dad says that's just the way it was. Depressing, but on the other hand gives a sense that progress has been made. Sad how a kid with messed up parents is rejected and scapegoated.
Pat
Nov 01, 2012 Pat rated it liked it
This is a wonderfully nostalgic glimpse into a small midwestern town in the 1940s - it's Mayberry with an edge. The characters range from poignant to evil with the Foster family at the epicenter. It's an engaging book.
Diane Bocci
Aug 25, 2013 Diane Bocci rated it it was amazing
This was first of many Jon Hassler books I enjoyed reading. I see that my county library does not have a copy . I think I need to donate a copy of the book. Sadly, Mr. Hassler passed away.
Sandy Schroeder
I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It's a good solid story set in Minnesota, so it was sort of fun to be able to picture the places Hassler described so well in his novel.
Juin Charnell
Feb 20, 2013 Juin Charnell rated it really liked it
Really great story. The characters will stay with you. I didn't grow up in a small town, but if this is any indication of what can be like, I'll remain in the city. Enjoy.
Janet
Nov 07, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it
Living in a smallish town in Minnesota, much of this rang true. I really liked his character development. I could relate to each of them, even the ones I didn't like.
Megan
Apr 08, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. I loved the small town MN setting and the characters were so alive.I was disappointed when I turned the last page because I wanted it to go on.
Rae
Aug 05, 2008 Rae rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-fiction
A 1940s family moves to a small Minnesota town, buys a grocery store, and tries to fit in. This is a sweet coming-of-age story. I so enjoy Hassler.
Steve Gathje
Dec 21, 2013 Steve Gathje rated it it was amazing
Set in Plainview, MN where Hassler grew up. His highly autobiographical novel about growing up in a small MN town.
Mike Savage
Nice solid read. Found some continuity errors early. Some unlikely observations by a 12 year old, but still, very enjoyable read.
Julie
Jul 28, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
So far it's exactly what I like in a book, flawed characters striving there perfect imperfection in life. Small town honesty
Douglas Armstrong
Feb 01, 2013 Douglas Armstrong rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the simple World War II-era nostalgia and the Sinclair Lewis-like take on small town life. Quick read.
Veronica
May 07, 2013 Veronica rated it it was amazing
Great characters and character development. Hope to read more of Hassler's books.
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Jon Hassler was born in Minneapolis, but spent his formative years in the small Minnesota towns of Staples and Plainview, where he graduated from high school. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. John's University in 1955. While teaching English at three different Minnesota high schools, he received his Master of Arts degree in English from the University of North Dakota in ...more
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