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Family and Other Accidents: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 4, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition (states) edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767925882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767925884
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,323,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Five years after their father dies of a heart attack, Jack and Connor Reed's mother dies of an aneurysm, and Jack, 25, returns to Cleveland to take care of 15-year-old Connor and to work in his late father's corporate law firm. This debut novel from Goldhagen, a celebrity reporter, spirals episodically through two-plus decades of Connor and Jack's fraught fraternity, showing the aftermath of loss in devastatingly efficient snapshots. Goldhagen cuts smoothly between the two men's perspectives, and widens out to include Jack's wife, Mona; Connor's wife, Laine; and, later, their children. Domestic disconnection and dissatisfaction are the rule, with marriages and pregnancies occurring more by chance than choice. Unsentimental and emotionally riveting, this is a portrait of the love between people who are not particularly good at loving. Even when Connor gets ill and tells Jack, "I tell everyone you're the only parent I ever had," their connection remains inarticulate. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After his mother dies, 25-year-old Jack Reed returns to Cleveland to work at his late father's law firm and raise his brother, Connor, who is still in high school. Jack becomes a workaholic with a parade of women streaming in and out of his life, while lonely Connor feels he is a burden to his brother. Wary of their emotions, the two brothers avoid talking about the devastating events that have profoundly changed their lives, instead bickering over minutiae and suffering from an array of physical ailments. Connor eventually marries a leggy Harvard grad and immediately sets out to create the family he never had, while Jack becomes involved with a red-haired reporter whom he's not sure he loves. As the years pass and their partners change, as Jack becomes immensely wealthy and Connor gets sick, the brothers' bond becomes the central fact of their lives and one they finally acknowledge. In this immensely assured first novel, Goldhagen uses a wealth of skillful techniques to create an indelible portrait of the flawed but loving Reed brothers. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book then proceeded to surprise me at every turn.
J. Bender
This is a great book, I normally just read non-fiction, but I picked this up the other day and I couldn't put it down.
Brian
I loved the narration from different perspectives and how it filled in the characters' thought bubbles.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Beware. This book is a sleeper. What first appears a simple family drama, two brothers facing life with both parents' dead in a short period of time, is actually a moving account of the nature of loss, the fragility of emotional connections and the importance of family. When their mother dies just five years after their father, Connor Reed, only fifteen, is left in the care of his handsome older brother, Jack. A young man following in his father's footsteps in an Ohio law firm, Jack is unprepared for the responsibility, a decade older than Connor. Connor grows into manhood, Jack his only example, while Jack goes through one girlfriend after another until he meets Mona. After Connor leaves for college, Jack is increasingly anxious in the empty house and invites Mona to move in with him. In such an arbitrary manner, Jack and Connor go their separate ways, seemingly disconnected and unable to express their feelings for one another.

Without extended family for guidance, the two brothers float in and out of each other's lives, Connor married first, with two children, Jack skating on the brittle edge of commitment with Mona. Through her inspired, yet subtle characterization, the author defines the brothers and their respective mates, the failures and triumphs in the world at large, but more significantly through the more treacherous waters of isolation. Jack and Connor are uniquely crippled by their early losses, recognizable in the partners they choose, their inability to reach out for comfort or offer any and their sad fumbling toward meaningful relationships. Difficult times draw the brothers into unfamiliar territory, unexpected moments of revelation that create an unbreakable bond that is inexplicably sustained through the years. Carefully crafted, Goldhagen's characters navigate a success-driven modern world, plagued by the usual disconnections, each managing to bridge the abyss to embrace family and brotherhood. Luan Gaines/ 2006.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Andrews on April 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I received this book in a gift bag at an event for BAM in Brooklyn, and didn't expect to have time to read it. But once I had glanced thru the first few pages, I was completely hooked. I feel like I've known the characters in this book my whole life.

Life-affirming, sad, tragic and -- unexpectedly -- extremely funny, this book was an incredibly pleasant surprise. I cannot recommend it enough.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Family and Other Accidents" is the episodic story of Jack and Connor Reed, told over a span of twenty-five years. By the time he is twenty-five years old, Jack's parents are both dead. He has given up a terrific job to move back to the family home in Cleveland in order to take care of his adolescent brother and work in his late father's law firm. What kind of example does Jack set for Connor? The devastatingly handsome Jack picks up girls, has brief flings with them, and subsequently discards them like disposable tissues. Connor comes and goes as he pleases, fools around with his girlfriend, and tries not to think too hard about his past or future.

Each chapter moves forward to another stage in the Reeds' lives, but there are occasional flashbacks, as well, each one illuminating some aspect of the brothers' personalities. Years pass and Jack seems to be settling in with a journalist named Mona Lockridge, but he never fully commits to her. When Connor is in Harvard graduate school, he has a fling with a woman named Laine, and she becomes pregnant. Tough decisions must be made. Should Laine and Connor keep the baby? Should they move in together or get married?

Shari Goldhagen's novel is a celebration of life with all of its messiness--the good and bad choices, the joys and sorrows, the relief and regrets, and the fulfilled dreams and dashed hopes that everyone experiences at one time or another. The one constant in Connor's and Jack's lives is their unshakeable bond. Ironically, long periods of time go by when the two barely communicate, but Jack and Connor know that they can depend on one another for help and support during times times of tragedy and heartache.

"Family and Other Accidents" is warm, sexy, funny, intimate, and intensely human.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the story of Jack and Connor Reed--and eventually their girlfriends, wives and children.

Jack is the older brother, who at age 25 returns home to care for Connor when their mother dies. Their father had died a few years before.

Jack meets Mona, a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and they begin a long-term relationship. Connor goes off to college, then graduate school in Boston. Jack tries to communicate his love for Connor, and often fails. Connor tries to let Jack know how he feels, and often fails. Jack continues to support Connor financially through college, then graduate school.

Connor meets and falls in love with Laine and marries her when she becomes pregnant. Connor is trying to create the family he never had, and become the father he always wanted. Jack keeps working long hours as an attorney, avoiding commitment to Mona; needing her desperately only after she moves to Chicago.

While growing up Connor had contemplated a poster in Jack's room of a young JFK, and goes into non-profit work, while Laine transfers her advanced degree into a lucrative career in high finance. The two brothers, while living far apart, are able to support each other through illness, broken and severed relationships, pregnancies, and other "accidents."

Ultimately this disconnected family has done things right, as the two brothers struggle through their "fluid" relationship with each other and their wives, girlfriends and children, they do manage to communicate their love for the people in their lives.

Armchair Interview says: A story of "family" most of us can relate to.
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