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Family and Other Accidents: A Novel Hardcover – April 4, 2006
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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I very much enjoyed reading the book. I don't understand the reviews that say that the characters were undeveloped. I think the writer developed Jack and Connor very well, and did reasonable justice to the other characters in a book. In fact, I think any more time spent developing the characters would have made the book drag - and admittedly it is a little slow in the beginning. That said though, it's a pretty quick read.
I found myself cheering, giggling, filling up with tears and scowling throughout this book. Perhaps because I can relate to some of the experiences in the book, but probably more that each experience was captured so well. And I loved that it was a nice, neat, perfect ending. The entire novel is realistic and not full of bland predictable characters and plot lines all tied up with a pretty pink bow.
I know that this isn't the best written review here, everyone has pretty much already said what I think of this book. But here's just another review saying how great a book it is.
I am just disappointed that the author has not published another book. Hopefully one is in the works.
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.
When Jack meets Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter named Mona, he decides to commit. But is it enough for Mona, who would like to be married? Later in college, Conner himself meets the love of his life in Laine. Do they have what it takes to maintain a long, healthy relationship though? Rest assured, the surprising answers will be revealed in this book that follows the Cleveland men through more than two decades of their lives.
"Family and Other Accidents" works on many levels. Goldhagen is a gifted and talented writer who manages to introduce interesting yet flawed characters whose lives readers will care to understand and follow throughout years of their lives. Those of us from the Cleveland area will instantly recognize and fall in love with the author's depiction of the area and its attractions. Though it tends to drag a bit, the book itself manages to touch on issues of aloofness, adultery, and death while still giving readers hope that love is attainable for anyone. It's definitely worth checking out.
Author of "Where is the Love?"
emanuelcarpenter dot com