Alternate Side

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 May 2018

Member Reviews

I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have to start out by saying I generally love Anna Quindlen. Her characters are always so well developed and you get really attached. Her storylines are relatable and seem that they are taken right out of everyday life. 

While I for the most part liked this book, it moved a little too slow for me. I generally enjoyed it overall but thought that it could have moved a little faster. If Anna Quindlen is a favorite of yours, I say pick it up and read it. If she is not an author you are familiar with, start with one of her other books and save this one for later. I
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So far my least favorite Quindlen book. This book was really slow to me and it had a hard time keeping my attention. It was uneventful and not a book I would recommend. Quindlen has many other great books to pick from!
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This is another book that falls under the category of "read awhile back/late to review", so this review will be more about my feelings and faded recollections about this book. Please keep that under advisement (though my rating was assigned in Goodreads at the time I finished it). 

I'm a fan of Anna Quindlen. Her style is stellar and my reading experience with her work has been more hits than misses. Which is why it pains me to give any of her work 3 stars. It is most definitely not a reflection on her writing, but on the story. In a nutshell, I wasn't interested. Not in their privileged little lives, not in the disruption of their perfect little enclave. The only characters I cared about in this book were Ricky and his family, and they were hardly the focus.

Truthfully, the neighborhood in this story sounds like a neighborhood I lived in not too long ago, one where HOA's ruled, and the people who loved them were tyrants. A neighborhood filled with people who cared more about how the neighborhood looked, the status it gave them, than the people who actually live in it, who shunned newcomers and rejected change. I struggle to empathize with them, and this book gave me no insights that would help in that cause.

No matter how good the writing, if I can't invest in the characters, if I don't care about their wins and woes, it's a meh read for me. Alas, that is the case here. But I'll still be first in line for her next book.
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Alternate Side is a book with unsympathetic characters where nothing much happens - and yet I found it compelling to read. Nora's transition from suburban housewife to single, successful mother and careerwoman was an honest and interesting study about one kind of womanhood, and I really enjoyed reading it.
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I had a tough relationship with this book but it wasn’t really the book’s fault. I think I may have enjoyed it or would enjoy it at a different time in my life. It is based around some ideas and norms that I haven’t really fit into my life, in terms of day to day, long term marriage. 

That said, Anna’s writing is fabulous and her characters, though not always likable, were relatable even given our life style differences. I definitely have people I could (and will) recommend this to, and I might reread it down the road. Over all, a very well written story, though not my perfect match.
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This episode was recommended as a favorite on episode 151 of What Should I Read Next, with guest and literary agent Maria Ribas. The episode is called "Knockout books for a recovering completionist."
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I’ve been an Anna Quindlen fan for quite awhile – Black and Blue among my favorites. I was really looking forward to her latest, Alternate Side…and, as usual, it was well-written with excellent dialogue, setting, and characterization. The problem for me was that I not only didn’t care for the setting, I really didn’t care about the people…despite Quindlen’s skill at making them real for me. 

In this book, the Nolans  (Nora and Charlie) are among the elites of New York City, living on a dead-end street with huge issues around parking (hence the title). Bothe their kids are at college, life should be terrific, right? But then an act of violence occurs, and the neighborhood starts to unravel. 

Charlie and Nora live on a dead-end street, and have a dead-end marriage. had a dead-end marriage just as they lived on a dead-end street. The story revolves around the elite residents on this dead-end street but addresses issues of class, including characters who are not among the elites. It is fascinating to see such a smug character as Nora interact with those people she would never encounter in the neighborhood if the elites didn’t need so many services.  

So: interesting, entertaining, well written. Just not my thing. Three stars.
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I like New York City well enough, I suppose; however, I am not a huge fan of movies and books that focus on NYC as a sort of character in itself.  The Alternate Side was not extreme in its love of the city. It was not the kind of story that every character sings NYC’s praises like a Broadway number, but most of the novel focuses on the mundane daily events in a upper (middle?) class neighborhood.  The city is sometimes simply the setting of the events and other times treated with an “ah, only in New York” sentimentality.   
The story itself is a mild social commentary on the differences between the have and have-nots, with more of a focus on the haves.  I would like to have seen “the help” depicted in more depth.  I imagine that Quindlen’s omission of more detailed chapters on the handyman and nanny were more purposeful than not. This is a commentary on how the wealthy view the everyman.  
There is a big event that takes place in this story that divides the neighborhood. Regardless, one shouldn’t be confused that this is a shocking, fast-paced Tale of Two Cities epic. The subtlety in the messages are part of Anna Quindlen’s craft in this novel. Here’s the big HOWEVER....I struggled to get through this one. It was often boring.  I found myself losing my concentration while reading it, wondering what I was going to make for dinner or trying to remember when my gas bill was due.  This is my first book I’ve read by the author. I’ve been meaning to read her for a decade or so. Even though I didn’t care for this book, I will read others. Anna Quindlen can write.
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Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen tells the story of marriage and life through Charlie and Nora Nolan, who live ensconced in a clannish, small street of stately homes in New York cities. The book is a slow burn.  It takes a while to realize that this book is more about the city and the characters than a plot. I go from not being sure I am enjoying the book to crying by the end because the emotion creeps up on me. 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley
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This is the story of a privileged family, married couple, Nora and Charlie, who have two kids in college. Both Nora and Charlie have good jobs, and they live in a nice home in New York. Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen takes that privilege and shows the ins and outs, ups and downs, and the flaws of the system. When an incident occurs within the small street that the Nolan's base their lives, the neighbors become divided.

Every character in this novel has flaws, especially Nora, she seems like an uppity type of woman, but on the inside she's just as nervous and unsure as the rest of us. After the incident on their block, Nora and Charlie find themselves on opposite sides of the drama. This obviously causes a rift in their marriage, one that they aren't so sure they can sew back together.

Although I did enjoy this book, I really only felt like it was alright. This was my first Anna Quindlen book, and I wasn't that impressed. The character development was pretty decent, and the atmosphere was perfect, but it really seemed like the mundane issues within the city block were just boring, or as we like to say "rich people problems", it wasn't worth an entire book to be honest.

Not only that, but it took a while for the story to flow. The author knows how to make you feel for the characters, and how to engage you in the drama, but it just wasn't "spicy" enough for me.  I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
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I got lost in the description in this book. I now feel like I have visited this neighborhood. Unfortunately, that's all I can take from this book. I was so bored. Nothing ever happened. Anna Quindlen either hits it out of the park or strikes out for me. This one was a strike out.
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Anna Quindlen is a fantastic writer. I am not always ready to read her, however, because sometimes she can be a bit heavy but I her writing is so well done. I found this to be on par with what to expect from her-very good writing.
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I love Anna Quindlen's books, so I was very much looking forward to checking out this new one. While I loved the depiction of a marriage going through changes, both good and bad, I found some of the plotlines lacking in depth. I would still recommend this book to a friend and think Quindlen is a very talented writer.
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I loved Anna Quindlen’s Blessings and Black and Blue., and I was excited to read Alternate Side I kept waiting to be taken away by this novel. It seems to be an in-depth study of characters that went nowhere. This book was not my cup of tea. Disappointing for me. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book from NetGalley.
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Thank you netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.
This book was slow, could not keep my interest. Too many characters to keep track and they just didn’t pull me in the story.
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Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.  As always,  Anna Quindlen delivers.  This is another well-written book that is engaging.  I recommend it.
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I have read many books by Anna Quinlain before. I was excited to read her newest novel. I was very disappointed. If you like character study this book is up your alley. 

This is a very quiet and slow moving. Perhaps she meant it that way. Because the story is a quiet, and well to do family in NYC. Her kids in college. Then it picks up the pace after page 100. 

Then something happens. One of the neighbors blows his gasket because someone has taken his parking spot. Everyone can can relate to how precious it is in NYC. The neighbor attacks the other guy. Who is hispanic,  and happens to do work for some of the neighbors. 

Sides are picked. Perceptions are made. Who was in the wrong? What did you see? Husband and wife are at odds with each other. Arguements persue because of his nationality. Things are said they can be said is racist. This is probably the best part of the book. Because of the social justice, and the arguement. 
The reason I gave it a three was because it was very slow moving. But, the writing was beautiful, and the community argument gave you something to think about. I can see a book club discussion about perception, and racism being brought up.
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I usually love Anna Quindlen’s books but this one was a let down for me.  The characters never seemed to come alive and the plot was very slow moving.
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It took me a while to sink my teeth into this book but, once it got going, I enjoyed the exploration of Nora's relationships - with her husband, her neighbours, her children, her boss, her friends, and Phil (who was my favourite character by far).

I thought the author did a good job with detailing how relationships change as people grow and change themselves.  It is said that people have a place in someone's life for a reason and, in most cases, a season.  In many cases, friendships fade through no particular fault; paths diverge and one finds, as Nora did, that there is not much in common anymore.  

I hadn't read anything by Anna Quindlen before, and in checking, was not surprised to learn she was based out of New York; Nora's relationship with New York City figures prominently in this book, which I also enjoyed.
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In Alternate Side by Anna Quindlan Nora is married to Charlie, they have two children, now in college.  They live in New York City in a very tight knit white neighborhood. The kind that celebrates holidays together, that stop and talk to one another in the streets, that know each other’s children. When the man who does home maintenance in the neighborhood is attacked by one of the home owners the tight knit neighborhood begins to fall apart as well as marriages as the neighbors learn not everyone views race the same.  

I enjoyed Alternate Side and not only the themes of race and immigrants but also the theme of how well we really know those we see everyday. I loved how the setting of New York City was almost a character or part of the plot. I feel the story would have a much different feel to it if it was set in another city. 

The narration goes back and forth between past and present and sometimes I had a difficult time recognizing if I was reading a memory or if we were in the present. 

In many ways this is a sad story but it was one I really enjoyed reading.
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