It’s rare for everyone in our book club to agree on a book, but a few years ago all of us agreed that Moloka’i by Alan Brennert was one of the best books we had read as a group. This month we decided to revisit Brennert’s work and we read “Palisades Park”.
The book focuses on the Stopka family, starting with its patriarch Eddie during one of his first visits to Palisades Park amusement park as a kid. Through the Stopka’s we see the rise and fall of carnival/amusement park culture in America during 1920’s through the early 1970’s.
Overall, we found the book to be an entertaining read. The book moves at a good pace and there is a good mixture of happy and sad events. While most of us really liked the Stopka family, many of us noted that the family seemed to be a little too good to be true.
In the author’s notes, Brennert mentions that growing up he spent many summers hanging out at the Palisades Park amusement park. It’s very clear throughout the story how much love he had for the park - and in a way he made the park the main character of the story. He surrounded the park with actual people who were important to the development of the park and did an excellent job bringing these folks to life. When the story did venture away from the park, it was hard not to think ‘when are we getting back to the park?’.
Overall, Palisades Park was a good read, especially if you are looking for something a light-hearted.