Amusement Park Life Spanning 40 Years
By Alan Brennert
St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, 432 pages
Palisades Park, Alan Brennert’s latest historical novel, is based on the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. Palisades Park is an integral part of the Stopka’s family life; Eddie and Adele own a French fry concession stand while their kids, Toni and Jack, grow up watching the different acts at the park. Once WWII starts Eddie enlists and finds himself in Pearl Harbor, Adele is left behind pining for her movie career that never materialized. When Eddie returns from duty, Adele has left to find her place in show business. Toni cannot forgive her mother, and dreams of being a high diver, Jack joins the Korean War, returning scarred and damaged, and Eddie dreams of a place that represents the Hawaii he visited as a soldier. Each family member tries to find their place in the world by following their dreams, but somehow, those dreams always lead back to Palisades Park.
Palisades Park spans many decades and historical events and this reviewer enjoyed how Brennert connected historical happenings to the ups and downs of amusement park life. The various cast of characters made this story come alive, and although the story was not gripping, it was a satisfying read.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff