Alternate Side

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 May 2018

Member Reviews

I always enjoy Anna Quindlen's writing. Her style and confidence takes the reader by the hand and guides her into another pocket of life. Her vignette's of life that are relatable, even if we haven't lived it, are a pleasure to read.
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A conflict in a parking lot will forever change the lives of many. Alternate Side is a story of a marriage and keeping the marriage together in tough times.
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Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen is not my type of book. I am a fan of Ms. Quindlen's writing, but this story was just too slow for me, I did not care for a single character. I kept reading and reading to the end, hoping to be drawn in or find something that would make me care one bit about any of the characters, but it never happened. It isn't that I don't enjoy a nice, leisurely read, this one just did not seem to hold my attention. Another of Ms. Quindlen's books that I found to be on the slower side was Miller's Valley, but unlike with this one, I grew to love the characters, the setting, and the slow telling matched the tempo of the town.
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This was my first book by Anna Quindlen and I have already added others to my to-read list! This book could be mistaken as a love story to NYC. The story starts off with the city-centric first world problem of a parking space and evolves and ropes in a menagerie of characters from this neighborhood, or city block. This is wonderful commentary on marriage, city living, and all the quirks that come with it.
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Random House and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Alternate Side. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Life on their little dead end street in New York City has been a haven for Nora Nolan. Now that their twins have gone off to college, Nora and Charlie soon discover cracks in their marriage. After a repetitive occurrence leads to a shocking violent act, how will the tight knit neighborhood respond? Will Nora's eyes be opened to an alternate future for herself and her family?

Alternate Side is a character study of the neighborhood in which Nora Nolan lives. Readers will be able to relate to the dynamics of this small group...

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A book written about the haves, and have-nots. In the modern world it's all about accumulating things, A bigger house, a newer car, the best jobs. Their is nothing wrong with this. However, getting lost in this makes you forget that at the end of the day, whether you have the best of everything or not, we're all human. We all have feelings. We're all working to better ourselves and our families. Sometimes the act of human kindness, love without judging, and seeing the other side gets lost. This is a remarkable book that makes you truly think about what's important. A kind of walk a mile in my shoes story.
5 Stars
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Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen follows main character Nora who appears to have it all...a loving husband, children away at college, and a very comfortable life as a part of NYC's upper class. However we quickly find out that a violent incident has happened that begins to unravel their tight knit community. I thought that this novel was very well-written but I found it hard to emotionally connect to most of the characters who seemed overly privileged. Although I did not like the character development as much as I had hoped, I did enjoy Quindlen's beautiful writing style.
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Headline:
I adore Anna Quindlen (both her fiction and nonfiction) and saw instances of her brilliant, trademark writing in Alternate Side, but the plot was a bit boring and I know she can do better.

Plot Summary:
When a violent incident happens on Nora and Charlie Nolan’s wealthy Upper West Side block, Nora begins to see cracks in her marriage, friendships, and throughout the neighborhood.

Why I Read It:
Anna Quindlen is one of my go-to authors. I’ve adored most of what I’ve read by her (Every Last One, One True Thing, Miller’s Valley and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake) and think she just “gets” women.

Major Themes
Marriage, New York City life, class, friendship

What I Liked:
-...

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If you reside in a crowded city like NY, you will immediately identify with the opening scenes of "Alternate Sides", Quindlen's introspective new book. Charlie Nolan is thrilled when a parking space opens up in his crowded, gentrified neighborhood and the plot takes off from there. The residents are friendly and know all the minute details of each other's lives. Their children's lives are intertwined andthey use the same housekeepers and handymen. Lives change when an unfortunate incident occurs by a neighbor, pitting people against each other and causing friction and disarray.
Quindlen does a superb job of chronicling the characters' lives by that...

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Anna Quindlen is a gorgeous writer, but in spite of the loveliness of the prose, I couldn't get into this one. There are so many names, and so many little things to juggle right out of the gate. I didn't make it more than 30% through. I adore domestic drama, but this one didn't grab me.
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I loved this book. There is something about taking a break from drama and just reading life. This could be my life, this could be yours. I cannot get over just how real the characters are. Well written, although real life, enough of a plot and interest to keep me turning every page. Simple. Real. Poignant. Deep.
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While this book is well-written, I had a hard time getting into this story.  There were some humorous moments, including the narrative explaining what “Alternate Side” means in terms of parking in a big city, that made me chuckle.  Also, I enjoy a book that can shed light on something with which I am unfamiliar, so I really enjoyed the insights into what living in NYC entails.  However, I did not find any of the main characters to be very relatable or likeable, so I was not as invested in the outcome of the story as I have been in her previous titles.  Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy.  All opinions are my own.
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I loved Anna Quindlen's columns back when she used to write them. She still has a lovely way of putting words together in her latest book but somehow the characters didn't really draw me in. I understand that it's often the small problems that make the drama in a person's life but it was hard for me to care all that much about the need for status that these people had.  This wasn't an unpleasant read but it also wasn't all that satisfying.
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“Their marriage had become like the AA prayer: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ Or at least to move into a zone in which I so don’t care anymore and scarcely notice. Nora had thought this was their problem alone until she realized that it was what had happened to almost everyone she knew who was still married, even some of those who were on their second husbands.”

This quiet novel has a subtle profundity do it. There are so many sentences within it that are worth rereading and thinking about. There are insights into life, identity, friendships, marriage, and class.

The novel, which is told in the third person, is focused mostly around Nora Nolan...

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I have loved most of Anna Quindlen's books -- but this one was not at the top of my list..  She writes with great wit and eloquence and her storytelling is brilliant..

However much I liked the main character, Nora, I found some aspects of the novel simply too mundane and boring to care about.. All this hoopla about a parking space!  While I was trying to stay interested, a multitude of other characters in this upper middle class community were introduced.  I put the book down and decided to come back to it another day.
I was glad I came back - Nora's wit and accessibility made it well worth the return.
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I adore Anna Quindlen's writing style; from Black and Blue to Miller's Valley I have absorbed every word and enjoyed every moment in the pages of her books. ALTERNATE SIDE not so much. You cannot imagine my chagrin while reading this book; so disappointed.

Though Ms. Quindlen's writing is always lyrical and lovely it was not enough to carry this book in which literally nothing happens. I have read character studies where there is not a lot of action and been very entertained and invested in the story; this did not even feel like a character study.

The parallel of the disintegrating neighborhood and Charlie and Nora's disintegrating marriage was not lost on me but was...

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Loved this book and have said so to everyone, in social media and elsewhere! I didn’t love living in New York even though briefly, and worried as I started it that it would be too inside New York, but it was, as always, Anna Quindlen exploring the human spirit.
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It’s a slightly painful look at upper middle class New Yorkers and their marriages,social habits and moral values. It was a bit sad but it did make me think about the times we live in. I liked it, would recommend it but didn’t love it
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Well written book but not my cup of tea. I could not get into the characters. Thanks for the review copy.
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At one point in Alternate Side one of the Nolan twins scolds Nora over what she calls "first-world problems." That's sort of what this book hinges on, particularly the first-world problems of upper-middle class Manhattanites.

New York City itself plays big role in the book and some reviewers have pointed out that there will be readers who can't relate to the first-world problems this neighborhood faces or life in Manhattan. That may be true but it shouldn't necessarily stop someone from reading the book. After all, I've read, and enjoyed, many books set in the South, or California, or France and I've never lived there. It's one of the things that...

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