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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Nora and Charlie are living in New York city. In their block only the people who own the houses seem to count. The renters aren't being included in anything. Nora and her neighbors share the same handyman, someone Nora likes and always gives her family's hand-me-downs. This person fixes everything for them. Charlie and Nora have two children and when they leave home they just continue living the way they used to, but is that really true? The ultimate goal in their block is having a parking space and they've finally reached it. However, does having a parking space make such a big difference? Slowly Nora's once so perfect life starts to unravel. There are problems at the block. An awful incident is the start of the decline of Nora's neighborhood and because of differences of opinion inevitably also her marriage.

Nora works at a jewelry museum. When she's being offered a better job, she isn't inclined to take it, but the offer is there and it's one more issue that worsens her relationship with Charlie. Nora and Charlie have nothing left to say to each other. Being divided about the terrible event makes the gap between them even wider. Nora is losing her superb existence, but is it so bad that when everything crumbles she's being forced to take a good look at what her life is really like?

Alternate Side is an interesting thought-provoking story. Nora's life might seem ideal on paper, but it's pretty superficial and empty. Her neighbors aren't particularly kind, her husband isn't actually present, even when he's there, and nobody seems to care very much about each other. Her life evolves around having a certain status, but what does getting that much desired parking spot truly have to offer? I loved how Anna Quindlen portrays her characters, she gives her readers a fantastic peek in an unbalanced, hollow life filled with meaninglessness that's being given the appearance of importance, while in reality it is nothing. I loved that idea for a story. She writes about what matters by showing her readers what clearly doesn't, a fabulous contradiction that I greatly admire.

Anna Quindlen's captivating writing has a nice easy flow. I was intrigued by her story from the beginning. There's so much that can be said, thought and assumed about the block and that makes it a fascinating setting to read about. Alternate Side is filled with arrogance, judgements and pretence, but it's also a story about hope, fulfillment and happiness. By writing about what isn't there Anna Quindlen constantly made me think about what should have been there and this kept me glued to the pages. Alternate Side definitely impressed me, it's a fantastic compelling book.


If you love thought-provoking stories about flawed main characters Alternate Side would be a perfect choice.

About Anna Quindlen

ANNA QUINDLEN is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear.



Two very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Alternate Side sounds like a thought-provoking and character-driven story with witty observations of life, especially marriage.

  2. Choosing to have a car in New York City certainly opens up an exciting world of complexities!

  3. Sounds like a captivating read! And I agree, just because a life looks perfect doesn't mean the person living it sees it the same way.

  4. This sounds like a really interesting thought provoking read, looking forward to reading this.

  5. interesting and absorbing from the sound of it, just my kind of read!

  6. The cover really stands out, I love it!

  7. I'd like to read a thought provoking book :)

  8. It does sound thought provoking!

  9. Many thanks for the review & giveaway!

  10. A jewelry museum would be an interesting place to work.

  11. this sounds like an interesting read

  12. this book sounds great! I hope to read it soon!
    Βασιλική Α.

  13. I know I will enjoy reading this book. I love your characters and this cover makes you look at it and read about it!!!!

  14. I love reading books about characters who seem to have it all, but really don't.

  15. I am fascinated by this. The psychological subtleties, the crises small and large... I've not yet read any of Ms. Quindlen's work, but I've heard wonderful things. "Alternate Side" looks like it could be an excellent starting point. And that title! It's so loaded, so full of potential meaning(s). It calls to mind the alternate-side parking regulations that are in place during the winter months, in some cities where I've lived. Residents have gotten so irritated at having to move vehicles when ~everybody~ knows it's not going to snow; it's seemed ridiculous. But at the same time, people take it very seriously-- you never know when the unexpected will occur, and when that empty side of the street will make all the difference in the world, or in a life.
    Thank you so much for featuring this book!

  16. I'd love to read this, just my type of book.

  17. Thanks for the great book prize and for running the competition.

  18. I suppose it's human nature to always want what someone else has - the grass is always greener on the other side, after all, until you get there and realise it's just a different perspective. It says a lot about the human condition (or the human zoo that is city living) when something that to most is so petty, can be the make or break in one's status in society. We all need a kick in the pants now and again, to walk in someone else's shoes, to realise what really does matter, what really brings happiness.