Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen
Nora and Charlie own a house on a rare dead end street in Manhattan. Their twins are getting ready to graduate from college, both spouses have good jobs that they aren’t exactly thrilled with but pay well, and life carries on with an occasional hiccup. The block has a feel of the suburbs; a tiny insular community where the inhabitants go off to their well paying jobs leaving nannies and handymen to tend to the day to day of running their homes.
Charlie is beyond thrilled when he is invited to park in the very small lot on the block and gives up his space in the parking garage. Nora is determined not to care about the arrangement or comment when Charlie needs to dig car out after big snowstorms. But when an incident involving the lot, a neighbor and an assault happens the block, and the people who live and work on it, are all affected in ways big and small that changes the course of their carefully planned lives.
I was fully prepared not to like this book I thought was about well-off Manhattanites moaning about the small injustices and annoyances of their lives. Horrible things happen in the book, never directly to the family that is the focus, but their lives are altered dramatically all the same. It illustrates the disconnect between people that can happen even when it seems everything is fine from the outside looking in but sometimes things simply don’t work out. The book is an interesting character study of a marriage and how a marriage can simply dissolve without any grand blowups or changes. How something as minor as parking can snowball into a life altering event. Even though we see the world through Nora’s eyes she places no blame. A refreshing look at the end of things and the beginning of others later in life; it’s never too late to start life anew.