(St. Martin’s Press, 2013)
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 coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.
But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.
Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s MOLOKA'I and HONOLULU into reading group favorites, PALISADES PARK takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn't.
PRAISE FOR PALISADES PARK
"An epic journey through the life of a treasured amusement park, with a cast of characters who experience great wonders and tragedies... The book is like the thrill-seeking roller coaster, climbing to great heights and then plummeting to heart-stopping turns. It's also like the merry-go-round, circling the seasons and drawing readers into its swirling history of colorful characters."
--Lancaster (PA) Sunday News
“Brennert writes his valentine to the New Jersey playground of his youth in Ragtime style, mixing fact and fiction. It’s a memorable trip.” --People Magazine
"Palisades Park is a perfect novel. Alan Brennert does a spectacular job of laying out a family saga from 1922 to 1974... he gracefully conjures up a place and time that is no more, reminding us of the parks intoxicating scents and its thrills. Each page resonates with the feel of someone who did his homework, who knows what went into sideshow acts and the hard life behind the flashy lights and cotton candy....[A] wonderful novel." --The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
"What impresses me most about this novel is how Brennert deftly shows that as long as humans are involved, there's no such thing as a simpler time." -- Jonna Erickson-Outlaw. Costco Connection
Full review at http://www.costcoconnection.com
"To sum it up in one word...WOW! When I turned the final page of the book, I was sad that it had ended... in my opinion, the mark of a great book! Palisades Park is a must read for anyone who enjoys an engrossing novel, for everyone who ever visited the legendary Palisades Amusement Park, and for anyone who treasures their memories of happier days gone by."
--Vince Gargiulo, author of Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories.
Full review at http://www.palisadespark.com/news.php
“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.” --Janet Geddis, owner, Avid Bookshop (Athens, Georgia)
“Brennert again writes his specialty—a book that has such a strong sense of place, the location becomes the story's main character... This tightly researched book (the author grew up at the foot of the Palisades) makes for fascinating reading, down to the tiniest authentic detail....For those who want to escape the late winter/early spring doldrums, this nostalgic coming-of-age tale of a little girl with big dreams is the perfect read.”--Library Journal
“A literate, thoughtful saga covering half a century in the life of a family whose world centers on a New Jersey amusement park... Brennert’s tale is a universal one, pointing to the travails of family life. But there are differences between the lives of his characters and ours: As one stunt diver says, smiling, of a particularly stunning feat, ‘Ah, that’s nothing. Wait’ll you see me do it when I’m on fire.’ A pleasure to read, especially for those who collect giant pineapples, roller coasters and other roadside attractions.”
“Brennert grew up in the shadow of this New Jersey amusement park and wrote the book as a love letter to Palisades—and to a bygone age... Brennert convincingly incorporates into the narrative authentic figures and anecdotes about the park, and creates a real emotional pull in his evocative descriptions of the eccentric, hardworking people who made up the Palisades family in good times and in bad." --Publishers Weekly