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.
“Brennert writes his valentine to the New Jersey playground of his youth in Ragtime style, mixing fact and fiction. It’s a memorable trip.”
“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." —The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
"An epic journey through the life of a treasured amusement park, with a cast of characters who experience great wonders and tragedies."
—Lancaster (PA) Sunday News
"Brennert...creates a real emotional pull in his evocative description of the eccentric, hardworking people who made up the Palisades family in good times and in bad." —Publishers Weekly on Palisades Park
"This nostalgic coming-of-age tale of a little girl with big dreams is the perfect read." —Library Journal on Palisades Park
“A literate, thoughtful saga….Brennert’s tale is a universal one [and] a pleasure to read.” —Kirkus Reviews on Palisades Park
"A sweeping, epic novel . . . beautifully told." —Library Journal (starred) on Honolulu
"A lush tale of ambition, sacrifice, and survival. . . . Immense . . . yet intimate."
—Booklist on Honolulu
“A dazzling historical saga.” —The Washington Post on Moloka'i
"A poignant story." —Los Angeles Times on Moloka'i
"A superb novel." –Los Angeles Daily News on Moloka'i