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From Rockaway

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  443 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Timmy and Chowderhead and Peg are lifeguards. They spend summers sitting in those tall chairs, smoking dope and staring at the waves, swatting insects, tormenting seagulls. Winters they work shit jobs like unloading trucks at Mickey's Deli. At night, winter and summer, they drink. Drink and get rowdy. Then there's Alex, the girl who gets away, not only from old boyfriend T ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published May 12th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  443 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Rachel Louise Atkin
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, new-york
Might just give this book five stars based on the acknowledgement page alone. Anyway I loved this a lot and I’m probably gonna use it as a PhD text. Welcome to Rachel’s mental academic brat pack, Jill Eisenstadt.
Tony Parsons
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Timmy, ChowderHead & Peg had the ultimate summer job.
Lifeguards at the Rockaway.
They also did their fair share of MJ, other drugs & lots of alcohol.
Rus limo driver was taking Alex, & the other 3 to the HS Sr. prom.
Sloane, Bean, Artie, lefty, Louie the Lump, & Schizo lifeguard mutt) was planning on following the group all-night long.

Alicia McHenry (produce dept.) was elected prom Queen.
Summer is over, Alex & Timmy who were really never a item part their ways.
Alex is going to college out of state
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I hated this book almost from page one. The only reason I kept going it because I'm reading it for a book club. The kids are whiny and angsty and nothing happens in almost the entire book. It's just snapshots of the kids whining about life in between drinking and doing drugs and having sex. Maybe I missed the point or maybe I led a sheltered childhood but I couldn't relate to these characters at all. ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Found this book in a bookstore in Prague, of all places. What a lucky find. Eisenstadt recreates with brutal honesty the stark social world of teens in 1980s Rockaway. The writing is at once blunt, lyrical, and authentic.
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worthrereading
It was fun to read this again over the start of summer weekend which was also the weekend of my # mumblemumble college reunion. The novel was both a little duller and a little sadder than I remember and now, just as then, the scenes that took place at Alex's college resonated deeply.

It reminded me of the film adaptation of The Ice Storm which also captured the boredom and the everyday despair of adolescence.
Megan Cooke
This is a good summer read! It focuses on a group of friends who have just graduated high school in the small beach town of Rockaway. Stuck in that middle place between childhood and adulthood, the book follows them from graduation night to the following summer. There are many sad but also hilarious moments along the way as they try to navigate the world of adulthood in a town with few opportunities. I definitely recommend this book if you’re a fan of the coming-of-age genre.
Dennis Holland
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Do you remember that time between adolescence and adulthood when time seemed to be stuck both on fast forward and rewind? Maybe it was during the summer after high school or some time after that? When it seemed like nothing was happening but so much happened? When there was so much time but it was all behind you? When life seemed to be both at its beginning and at its end?

This story about a group of teenagers on the Atlantic edge of NYC and the edge of time brilliantly captures the innocence an
Paperback Paris
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jill Eisenstadt's From Rockaway captures what it is like to be a young adult that has no other options but to be in the working force.

1980s New York: Peg, Timmy, and Chowderhead are working as lifeguards at their local beach, where all there is to do is look out at the ocean, and ensure people are not drowning or smoking weed. But during the winter months, they have to work crappy jobs, like at Mickey's Deli, where they spend their days and nights loading and unloading trucks. Unfortunately for
Peter Landau
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
What makes a book resonate? How come some novels are heralded and then fade away or just never get attention in the first place. These, among other things like what am I going to do with my kids this summer, were some thoughts that accompanied me while reading Jill Eisenstadt’s debut FROM ROCKAWAY.

I judge a book by its cover, and I love everything published by the Vintage Contemporaries imprint, though I’ve only read a handful of them. It’s the design, especially as it peaked for me in the 1980s
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short(ish) novel about a pack of restive kids coming-of-age in Rockaway, New York, a place far enough removed from Manhattan to feel like it's in another state. As a member of the '80's literary brat pack series, From Rockaway has a similar premise to books like Less Than Zero and Bright Lights Big City in its depiction of a particular kind of dreary adolescent ennui in a certain time and place, though it differs from the aforementioned books in that the characters are a tad less vacuous, snor ...more
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: moffat-street
Liked this lot, especially the way Eisenstadt so fluidly shifts the perspective around. It really gives you a chance to know everybody. The world she describes is very whole and very small and very interesting and very sad. Really dug it.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I missed the boat when I was in high school and college. I should have spent more time drinking beer and smoking weed. Unfortunately that was my takeaway from this book.

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This came recommended to me by someone whose literary taste is highly evolved, so I am sure I've missed something here when I say I didn't love it. The writing is gorgeous in certain parts, and I was interested in Timmy and Alex even though they both seem like such f*ck-ups. They seem like good people but they just can't get out of their own damn way. Perhaps I am too old to read about college-age kids drinking, drugging, and screwing [around]. (Cue, "Get off my lawn!" jokes.)

I would be remiss i
Tom Hill
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this book is unjustifiably forgotten/not read much. It's actually really good, if less splashy than the debuts of Bret Ellis and Donna Tartt, the authors Eisenstadt is so often lumped in with. It's a simpler, more hopeful story, and yet it still captures the aimless, sometimes ugly reality of being college-aged. The dialogue here is really good, as are the inner thoughts of characters, and Eisenstadt convincingly moves between different characters' perspectives. There are of course, seve ...more
Harry Ramble
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it

I finished this book on the beach at Sandy Hook State Park, directly across the water from Rockaway, at 6pm as the lifeguards were whistling the swimmers out of the water for one last time on Labor Day. The sun was already low in the sky behind me at the end of the season.

From Rockaway is a grimy snapshot of life among disaffected young people in an urban beach town. There are no lighthearted teen hijinks here, no summer romances, no moments of insight or inspiration. Just the daily slog from li
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first of my summer reads for the season. Can't be more appropriate than life guarding! Decent coming of age story and enjoyed learning about the location. Ending was a bit abrupt and would have liked a bit of what happened after the bridge incident. But maybe it was the authors point to end it as she did. Great portrayal of the 80s time period. Writing was very visual and descriptive, I felt the anger, confusion, pain of the characters. Was surprised to see that the book was first pu ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This didn't quite do it for me—a near miss—which I think was all for stylistic reasons. The combination of flat affect and post-adolescent angst kept the book at arm's length for me. And the casual racism/homophobia/sexism from characters who are otherwise sympathetic—I know it's a product of its time and place, but it was a bit too deadpan. And (view spoiler). I think I should have read this when it first came out, since I apparently ha ...more
Irene Grapel
I was looking forward to reading this book, as I spent my childhood summers on the beach at Rockaway. I was disappointed in the characters, whom I did not like at all, Timmy being the exception. The book moved at the end but was so, so slow. I couldn't wait for it to end. And , as I was reading it on a Kindle and couldn't sense the last page, it ended very precipitously. ...more
Maria Francescon
She definitely captures the voice of teens coming of age and stagnating in a NY beach town in the 80s. Feels like it should have been optioned for the screen by John Hughes. Would have personally enjoyed it more had I read it 30 years ago, but that's more a personal observation than an objective criticism. ...more
Paige Armbrust
Jul 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Uneventful, no likeable characters.

I understands why it was an inspiration for Bret Easton Ellis, however, as it captures the emptiness of a small working-class town that nobody escapes. Emptiness, whether it be in NY or LA, is a common theme in all his books - but that is the only good thing I can say about it.
Sarah Rigg
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this the summer after high school, and probably wondered if something like the fate of these characters could happen to me and my high school chums. In my journal from 1990, I gave it an 8/10 rating and my notes were "Bizarre. Disturbing." I'm not sure why it was so disturbing, but it might have been the mention of smoking lots of pot all the time. ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Super slow but finally did take off a bit in the latter half. I just felt like the author had their thoughts all over the place and it kept jumping around in the beginning. Almost quit but actually glad I finished.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm glad I finally got round to reading this, because it's nice to round off the loose trilogy this forms with The Rules of Attraction/Secret History, but I'm just saying there is a good reason From Rockaway is the one nobody has really heard of. ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it liked it
So I grew up in Rockaway during the very time period this book takes place and I was shocked to see this book on the library shelf of the kibbutz I live on in Israel. I had to read it for nostalgic sake. I need to get SWELL which is also set there by the same author.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Interesting. Not my usual read but good.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Really didn't quite get this book at all. ...more
Amanda (Tholke) Hollenkamp
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
not sure why l had this book. not great.
Jaime Harrington
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Particularly enjoyed this as a summer beach read in RBNY.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sorry but this was a hard read for me. I just didn’t like the writing style...too disjointed.
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Jill Eisenstadt was raised in Rockaway, New York. She was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn.

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