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Palisades Park

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,993 ratings  ·  1,029 reviews
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 coas ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2013)
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Toni As far as I know, Jimmy is still in the picture, but not mentioned toward the end.

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  5,993 ratings  ·  1,029 reviews

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Diane Yannick
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
My rating is 4.5 to be exact. This book was just a good old fashioned read. For me, that never goes out of style. There are no moral dilemmas that you have to unravel. There are no symbolic flights of fancy leaving you wondering if you are missing big chunks of meaning. There is no show-offy writing that makes you pay more attention to the writing than the plot.

What you do have is an engaging story that vividly evokes a time and place---Palisades Park NJ during its heyday (1920's-1971). I could
Edward Lorn
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I picked up this book at my local BAM for $6, and it's one of those rare occasions where I would have happily paid full price for a clearance rack book.

Palisades Park covers the lives of the Stopka family over the course of four decades, and how the titular amusement park factors into their existences. I enjoy stories that take place over lengthy periods of time and carnival/amusement park stories. It's no wonder I enjoyed Palisades Park as much as I did.

I grew
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December 2012
PLEASE let this be as good as Honolulu and Moloka'i!

May 2013
This is a hard book to review. Alan Brennert became one of my favorite authors after reading Moloka'i and Honolulu. This book was odd though in that the main character really seemed to be Palisades Park. The rest of the main characters seemed to be supporting roles. I do think they were well developed but I never could see the direction the book was going because I couldn't really tell what the book was about besides the li
Elyse  Walters
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alan Brennert is a gifted storyteller. (As with "Molokai' and "Hololulu").
This book is a wonderful tribute to the famous Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey --(a mile from where Alan himself lived as child).

The characters are irresistible --
The historical fiction is well researched --

The family challenges between the characters feel real -- --(intimate).

Visuals and smells come alive while taking this "Palisades Park" journey.

For me: there were a 'few' times in the book when I wanted to 'rush-
May 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was really disappointed in this book. While it had a great cover and a promising concept, the writing was flat and not engaging at all. The author bit off more than he could chew with trying to encompass such a long time period and so many events in such a short novel. This book would have been better had it perhaps spanned only one summer and delved more in to the characters. As it was, the characters were unlikable and always seemed like aquaintances, rather than people you were getting to k ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ipad, alan-brennert

“Evenings at the Stopka home, as in most homes in America, revolved around the welcoming voice of the radio—a tall, mahogany-veneer Philco console, standing solemn as a church organ in the corner, the family gathered round in secular congregation.”—page 97/423

With his third novel, PALISADES PARK, Alan Brennert has cemented his place among the twenty-or-so of my ‘top-ten’ all time favorite storytellers. He writes, in the Author’s Notes, “This novel is a love letter to a cher
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Read more of my reviews on my blog:

My feelings about "Palisades Park" could best be compared with the way Clark Griswold feels when he reaches Wally World and punches the moose in the face. Despite the alluring cover art, the choppy writing and multitude of characters in "Palisades Park" wasn't for me. Although the story's heroine is Toni, the book didn't begin to focus on her life until 70 pages into the novel. The entire beginning of the novel was already sl
Karen R
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alan Brennert won me over with “Molokai” so I was eager to read another novel by this multitalented author (+ tv producer + screenwriter). In Palisades Park, he pays tribute to the renowned Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. I was transported to the time and place of this legendary park during a volatile period in history and I felt invested in the story and its’ cast of characters. I did not want it to end. Wonderfully written.
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Of course I'm reading this the week the carnival comes to my town. Yes I'm going. I can't resist after reading this book. Makes you crave cotton candy and you actually smell it in the air when you are reading this book. Wonderful story about a family and an amusement park from days past. I miss them.
JoAnne Pulcino

Alan Brennert

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The author of this poignant, literary saga has called his novel, “a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood”. It is that and so much more as he weaves together fact and fiction to present his readers a nostalgic look at a famous park and the hardworking people who became family through the good times and the bad.
Beginning in 1922 when the park opened until 1974 for the five decades the park survived the triump
Holly Weiss
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Look no further than Palisades Park by Alan Brennert for a magical place to spend happy hours of reading. Eddie and Adele Stopka, parents of Toni and Jack, sell vinegar-soaked French fries near the thunder of the Cyclone roller coaster. Toni is enthralled with the divers who do daredevil stunts in the largest salt-water pool in the world. This family of dreamers shares a love for Palisades Park, which becomes a character in itself. The park has an aura of camaraderie and daring. Vendors help eac ...more
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Palisades Park
Alan Brennert

My " in a nutshell" summary...

The story of a family with a long interest and involvement in an amusement park...specifically Palisades Park!

My thoughts after reading this book...

Amazing, satisfying, absorbing...these truly were the thoughts running through my head when I finished Palisades Park. It's a family's story woven around major world events. It begins with the Stopka family and Eddie and his dad enjoying a day at Palisades Park...eating French Fries doused in
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 STARS! The author calls PALISADED PARK " a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood." It is the history of the New Jersey amusement park and its people from 1922 to about 1974. While reading this book, you will smell French fries, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and purple popsicles. You will hear the click clack of wooden rollercoasters, the screams and laughter of delighted visitors, and the lure of the concessioners. You will see high divers, oddities, vintage clothing, and blinkin ...more
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading books all year waiting for one to captivate me. For one that I want to recommend to others. For one that when I put it down it stays with me. This is that book.

Overall, it's not a gripping story. There is nothing fast paced or gimmicky. It is a solid story about a real NJ amusement park with real people, their struggles, their triumphs, their failures, their successes. It made me long to visit a place like Palisades Park. In a way it makes me think of my childhood memories of
May 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was just OK. For the first 2/3 or so I wasn't sure whose story it was supposed to be. I knew more about the park than any of the characters. It read more like a documentary and the actions of the family were just that. Dry, non dramatic actions taking place on the backdrop of the park, which is the real star. I didn't sympathize with any of the characters, I didn't buy the motivations that the author was selling. I wasn't sure why I was supposed to care for them except as props to lear ...more
My final covid-reading shelf book, since CA has lifted the restrictions. Let's hope it's for good!

I do LOVE a good family saga, and that's exactly what this is with lots of history and nostalgia of a magical very real place called Palisades Park. Palisades Park amusement park spanned decades and we witness the park through the eyes of a family and friends who grew up there during adolescent and adult years, whether by enjoying the park as children or working or performing there as adults.

As wit
I really enjoyed this. Full of first hand memories and lots of historical facts of this nostalgic New Jersey amusement park that closed in the 1970's. Loved the fictional characters of Eddie and Toni and the real-life character of Bunty. Lots of history of WWII and the Korean war and what it meant in the lives of these people. Historical details of fires and actual events that took place at the park fit in seamlessly with the fictional story. Lots of funny moments and many heartfelt scenes throu ...more
Palisades Park apparently was a real place, I didn't do any fact checking but I assume this is at least partly factual as far as places/events that took place.

Nice easy to read uncomplicated plot, no fancy symbolism, no time traveling, no needing the dictionary every five minutes for obscure show off-y words. Now, I do have a fellow reader and friend who is bothered by bad language and naughty situations so let me say right off: even though this is an old fashioned book about an old fashioned ti
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has been to Palisades Park
Recommended to Mary by: My niece Barbie
This is the second time I am trying to write a review for this book.

I grew up in New Jersey in the 1950s and 1960s. My Dad was a truck driver for Ballentine Beer and Ale that was produced in the Ironbound section of Newark, the bet city in the state. Every year my Dad would take a full car load of family to Palisades Park in Cliffside Park.

"You'll never know how great a kiss can feel
When you stop at the top of a Ferris Wheel
When I fell in love ..... down at Palisades Park."

These are some of the
June 2014: I really enjoyed this one. You can tell the author spent some time at this park, it felt really authentic. A fun read. (First time rated this 4 stars)

Re-read June 2020: I loved it even more! While I was never at Palisades Park, reading this book makes me feel like I was. This second time around it's still so wonderfully nostalgic and feels so authnetic. Pretty much how I felt about it the first time around but after being in lockdown for months it read even better! A great summer 'get
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was kind of amazed at how quickly I was drawn into this book. The story of the Stopka family and their lives at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey is exciting, heartbreaking and hopeful. Set in the 40's, 50's and 60's, the book touches on World War 2, the Korean War and issues such racism, PTSD and women's rights. The Stopka family works hard and stands up for what they believe regardless of the consequences. They support each other and help each other realize their dreams. ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Okay, so color me disappointed. After Moloka'i and Honolulu I was expecting something really great from Palisades Park. But all I found was that I didn't care about the characters. An endless stream of names and people were thrown at me from the beginning of the book, but I wasn't made to feel for any of them. Someone would show up in one chapter, then go away for half the book, then show up one more time before never being heard from again.
There's also not a clear protagonist. Eddie? Toni? Br
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
When my mother spotted me reading a book titled "Palisades Park," she immediately became animated as she told me stories of the one time she went there as a very little girl. And to me, that animation and storytelling based off of precious childhood memories is what makes this book so sensational.

Eddie Stopka goes to Palisades Park for the first time in 1922 and goes on to remember that day as the best of his life. When he returns as a late teenager to find a job, the adventures he has, the peo
Jane De vries
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put it down. A welcome change from all the high brow classic novels I've been reading lately! A mixture of fact and fiction but what is the fact and what is the fiction?? ...more
Nobody does historical fiction with the setting as a character better than Alan Brennert. I'm not discounting that there may be some equal to the task, but none are more masterful at taking a place, creating fascinating characters with life-long ties to that place, and mixing in the magnetizing truth of events and people with the plausible storytelling of a simulated narrative. Brennert is simply and complexly brilliant. His previous best-selling novels, Moloka'i and Honolulu are of equally epic ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: z-2018-sep
Wanted to love book. Found story to drag, but not my type of book so don't let my review deter you. 2.5 stars. ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I love an amusement park, all of them and any of them. I even love fairs and festivals and those local fly by night carnivals. Midways, games of chance, rides, French fries, the squeals of excitement, fear, and laughter, families having fun together. For my part of the world, our Palisades Park was Boblo Island, and not a summer goes by that I don’t miss going there.

In high school, we read the poem “A Coney Island Life” by James Weil, and I repeat the lines to myse
Deon Stonehouse
Brennert showed talent for blending the stories of individuals with a broader look at what was happening in the world around them in both Moloka’i and Honolulu. He brings that focus to Palisades Park, a legendary New Jersey amusement park. The action starts in 1922 when Eddie has a halcyon day at the park with his family, the last good day of his childhood. The story continues to the park’s dismantling in 1974. Eddie goes to work in the park in 1930, marries Adele and has two fine children. His ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

I thought of this quote after reading Palisades Park. You see, I loved Alan Brennert's Molokai. This is no Molokai.

This book was an easy read. Perhaps that was part of the problem. I really felt nothing for the characters. They were all too perfect. It was one of those 'happily ever after' books. All of the story lines were tidy. None of the characters really had
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Palisades Park is an homage to the author's childhood spent near the seasonal amusement park in northern New Jersey. It's a nostalgic walk down memory lane, during the heyday of amusement parks in the 1930's through the 1970's. The story touches upon all of the major domestic and international events of the times, including the aftermath of the great depression, World War II, the Korean War, and the civil rights movement. But the character development is thin and the story is really just propell ...more
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Retro Chapter Chi...: May-June 2020: Palisades Park 70 14 Jul 04, 2020 09:00AM  
Women and Books: Palisades Park 41 22 Apr 02, 2014 06:31AM  

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Alan Brennert is the author of the historical novels Palisades Park, Honolulu (chosen one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post), and Moloka'i, which won the 2006 Bookies Award, sponsored by the Contra Costa Library, for the Book Club Book of the Year (and has sold over 600,000 copies since publication). It was also a 2012 One Book, One San Diego selection. He has won an Emmy Award and ...more

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