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Family and Other Accidents
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Family and Other Accidents

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  82 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 fathers law firm, beds ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  523 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Stacey Palevsky
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Molly Sender
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me. It's not that anything THAT exciting happens to the lives of these two brothers and their families, but that's the loveliness and brilliance of this writing. It's beautiful in the mundane topics and every day occurances. Goldhagen has a keen eye for small details that show how life happens in ways we don't expect, and how unexpected things happen that bring us to a place we are now. At it's core it's about a relationship between brothers, but it ends up being a study in ...more
Robert Ferguson
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
The characters are morally reprehensible, but I found myself rooting for them regardless. The book is very well written and paced. The only thing I didn't like is the transitions between chapters, they seemed more like short stories than a cohesive book, which is because that's how some of them started. But I would definitely recommend this one.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A new way of naming the circumstances of life is accidents...can be fatal or not. This was an exceptional novel, short and precise in making us see the lives of two brothers and their extended families live and unlive different aspects of their unions.
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to N. by: School Library
This book made me so emotional! I did not think it was going to be so mature and expand on the characters as much as it did. Like it said it's goal was in the beginning, it for sure highlighted the struggles a family can have, whether that be with love and relationships, illness, or growing up and finding yourself. Love love love it.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Robin Nicholas
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mai Ling
May 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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!
Daphne Atkeson
Oct 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Mary Anderson
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Didn't know what to expect from the book and the first 2 chapters reminded me of Catcher in the Rye. The book picked up pacing through the middle and finished ok. Made me think hard about dysfunctional families and why people cheat or have affairs. Interesting use of point of view from the different characters.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it 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
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was very well written and I enjoyed getting to know the characters from through the chapters that they each narrated. I also liked that the author covered a long timeline - we could see the characters mature and develop.
Jen Courtright
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I loved this book. I found it easy to relate to even when the story was from the male perspective. Made me reflect on my own relationships with the people in my family and how they change over time. Poetic and real, worth reading.
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A surprising little book! I could have done without some of the sexual references but I was very intrigued by the relationship of the brothers. That is a subject so seldom dealt with in shorter novels.
Good Read!
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's something about the way Shari Goldhagen writes and the characters she creates and the random jumps in time she navigates that I just love. This didn't seem as polished as "In Some Other World, Maybe" but it was still enjoyable and page-turning and emotionally raw.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book--it was well written without being overwritten, and the characters were as flawed as they come but still likeable and empathetic. A very good read.
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved the writing style in this book. In the words of Ann, it "engaged me" throughout. Will be looking for other books by Goldhagen.
Lauren Hanrahan
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this story of two brothers. My only gripe was that the pop culture references didn't make sense with the timeline. It was distracting.
Lorie Kleiner Eckert
May 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Scotty Eck went to Sunday School with the author!!
Dave 25
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It follows a couple of brothers who lose their parents. It's a quick read, and a great story.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely portrait of what family really means. Bumping it down one star because I could never decide whether I loved or hated the constantly shifting perspectives of narration.
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book is good for anyone from Cleveland ;)
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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 ...more

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