3 stars (out of 5)
Alternate Side is a descriptive look at family life in New York City. The book follows Nora Nolan, her husband Charlie and their twin teenagers, Rachel and Oliver, through a season of their lives in Manhattan. An act of violence occurs on their street in their wealthy Upper West Side Neighborhood and it affects them all in different ways.
Anna Quindlen is a skilled writer and her observations about day to day life are beautifully articulated and so truthful. The problem is that nothing much happens in this book. The act of violence takes a long time to get to and it’s just not that serious. It’s not closely related to any of the members of the Nolan family so, although it does affect them, it’s a stretch. The book is more of a character study than a novel. As I said, I found parts of it very interesting and it’s all very well written but parts of it dragged and I found myself skimming. The last 25 pages were my favorite because many of the characters made decisions and actually did things–rather than just think about them.