Alternate Side

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 May 2018

Member Reviews

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 http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/09/alternate-side.html 

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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I always love to get my hands on the newest Anna Quindlen Book.  While I enjoyed the book, I found it just mediocre.  The characters weren't all that likable and I thought the book dragged.  Not one of my favorites.
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I am middle of the road on this Anna Quindlen novel. It seemed a little slow to get started, I'd actually say it was a gentle read. The main character is layered enough to be interesting but never became compelling for me. Actually I found the secondary characters a bit more complex and interesting.  The story of a marriage became stronger in the second half. Alternate Side could become a book discussion selection as it seems to engender ratings all over the spectrum.
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Anna Quindlan is one of my favorites. This novel was more sobering than some, including as it did, the narrow thinking of (supposedly) liberal wealthy New Yorkers. I liked the fact that Nora came to some peace regarding her new life--but it was bittersweet.
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I love this author but this is not a favorite.  I found none of the characters likeable or interesting.
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4* review
This new novel by an author I always enjoy, both her fiction and non-fiction, started out slowly and I was not at first impressed by it.  I kept reading because, after all she is a favorite author of mine.  But also, I grew up in lower Manhattan and even though I did not drive until I moved out of ‘the city’, I do remember the Alternate Side of the Street Parking.   However, the title of “Alternate Side” can refer to a few things in this story, which is something I like.   
I just didn’t seem to care about some of the characters but the writing and storyline kept me going and after a while I was totally caught up in the goings-on and wanted to see how it all turned out.  Again, good book by this author.
Thank you to Net Galley, the publisher and author for this advance copy and I apologize for not getting around to writing my honest opinion earlier.
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It was a pretty good read with definitely a lot going on in it. I do appreciate her style of writing and the story itself was relatable.
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