The Lost Legends of New Jersey

( 11 )

Overview

From the critically acclaimed author of The Odd Sea, a poignant and magical coming-of-age story that "deftly explores the mysteries of love and loss" (Time)

It's the early 1980s and the suburban streets of New Jersey are filled with Bruce Springsteen-era teenagers searching for answers. Anthony Rubin is a rising high school hockey star faced with a family that is falling apart. His father has had an affair with Anthony's best friend's mother and his own mother has abandoned the ...

See more details below
Paperback (First Harvest Edition)
$15.29
BN.com price
(Save 19%)$18.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (85) from $1.99   
  • New (14) from $3.79   
  • Used (71) from $1.99   
The Lost Legends of New Jersey

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$14.99 List Price

Overview

From the critically acclaimed author of The Odd Sea, a poignant and magical coming-of-age story that "deftly explores the mysteries of love and loss" (Time)

It's the early 1980s and the suburban streets of New Jersey are filled with Bruce Springsteen-era teenagers searching for answers. Anthony Rubin is a rising high school hockey star faced with a family that is falling apart. His father has had an affair with Anthony's best friend's mother and his own mother has abandoned the family for Florida. Confronted with an overwhelming sense of loss, Anthony focuses on the one thing he feels he can save-the tough-talking daughter of a reputed Mafioso, a Juliet to his Romeo. Merging the commonplace and the mythological, Frederick Reiken's richly layered second novel presents unforgettable characters whose lives seem at once familiar and archetypal. Filled with joy as well as heartbreak, The Lost Legends of New Jersey is a rich, resonant tale of the extraordinary magic that can arise within ordinary lives.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A Moon for the Misbegotten

Frederick Reiken's fine second novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey, introduces us to Anthony Rubin, a teenager who spends the summer of 1979 on the boardwalks of the Jersey shore, "midget wrestling" with his friends and walking through the songs of Bruce Springsteen. When his father, Michael, begins an affair with Claudia Berkowitz, however, this idyllic life implodes.

Soon, Anthony's mother, Jess, is throwing rocks at the Berkowitz's house, then driving across their lawn, leaving deep, circular ruts. Jess's emotions have long been unsteady, and this new crisis, even when the affair ends, exacerbates her wild behavior. "My father had to make a choice," Anthony says, "Be confused or try to love her. For a while he tried to love her."

The Rubin family's fragmentation is mirrored by that of the narrative's structure, and herein lies the novel's greatest strengths and weaknesses. "One of the problems with all stories," Anthony suggests, "is they have no borders.... You use the things you know to guess at what is left outside the border." While Anthony remains as the primary narrator, the novel attempts to guess at every motivation, to provide every character's thoughts. This inclusiveness tends toward broad thematic musing, rather than the tighter narrative and dramatic focus of Reiken's excellent and much-praised first novel, The Odd Sea. The result is a work that is just as fascinating, even as it is slightly more uneven; Lost Legends is more disparate but also more daring.

At its heart is Anthony, confused and sweet, yet never sentimental. He loves to track constellations with his star map and to read William Carlos Williams (another New Jersey native son) just as he enjoys spying on Juliette, the nubile girl-next-door. Anthony's careful attention transforms the world around him: "He was always doing that, making things up, trying to see how it all might fit into a legend. He didn't understand why he did this, because New Jersey was not a legend. It was the armpit of America, according to most people. Still he saw everything around him as legend." Over and over, the book's descriptive passages produce such transformations. For instance, riding his bicycle late at night, Anthony "looked around and could see flashes of things he knew he would not remember -- beneath his tires the trellised shadows of crisscrossing branches; the moon-bleached road that looked as if were made of light."

"The moon is like a face that glows with sadness," Anthony's mother tells him, translating her sister's Hebrew poem, and this moon haunts The Lost Legends of New Jersey, its light changing the aspect of all it falls upon. It is Jess who changes the most, perhaps -- not so much due to her own adjustments, but to the development of Anthony's understanding of her. By 1983, she lives in Florida and has taken up scuba diving; underwater, she is able to lose her troubles. Still, when she returns to New Jersey, appearing at Anthony's hockey game, she must silently prepare herself: "Normal. Please God, once, let me act normal." As she learns in the Kabbala, joy and sadness are intertwined.

Anthony's attempt to understand the breakup of his parent's marriage, along with his own relationship with Juliette, echo this theme. The novel carefully explores the nature of love -- its demands, its pleasures, its disappointments -- and reveals how it, like the moon, changes all it touches. Perhaps Anthony's parents were not meant to be married, but then he would not exist, and there would be no story to tell, neither joy nor sadness. "You just vault into things," he concludes, "and then you hope."

Peter Rock

Peter Rock is the author of the novels Carnival Wolves and This Is the Place. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he now lives in Philadelphia. His email address is rock@aya.yale.edu.

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
Our booksellers "loved" this "quirky" tale of teenage life and love in suburban New Jersey circa the era of Bruce Springsteen. An "enjoyable family drama" by the acclaimed author of The Odd Sea. Booksellers said it "pulls you in" and is "hard to put down."
Paula L. Woods
...a rich, seductive mythology out of the ordinary places and people of the Garden State...one of the finest novels published so far this year.
Los Angeles Times
Shelby Hearson
...a beautifully told story of bad choices, good intentions, and the price of intimacy.
Chicago Tribune
Rita Giordano
Reiken has written a wonderful, wonderful book. By turns funny, poignant, clever and sad, Lost Legends is almost unerringly original.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Margaria Fichtner
Reiken time and again demonstrates an observant eye for the passing scene and a passionately lyrical heart.Miami Herald
Chris Bohjalian
Frederick Reiken's novel about the end of innocence is also a valentine to suburban Jersey.
Boston Sunday Globe
From The Critics
In Reiken's dazzling second novel, young Anthony Rubin's eyes are opened to love, adultery, despair and the constellations that burn over the Jersey shore. Just as he attempts to understand the night skies with a dime-store star map, Rubin searches for some redeeming design behind his father's affair with his best friend's mother, his own mother's retreat to Florida and obsession with scuba-diving and the secretive relationship blossoming between him and his neighbor. The novel spans four turbulent years in the life of the Rubin family, and takes place in affluent suburbs, nursing homes and a garbage dump overflowing with discarded marching band instruments. Reiken textures this coming-of-age story with mythological allusions, and while his references occasionally seem self-conscious, the narrative never lapses into allegory but stays grounded in the magic of everyday experience. Imbued with pathos and humor, hope and longing, this is an imaginative love story that flows with graceful clarity toward an affecting conclusion.
—Bret Anthony Johnston
VOYA
The Rubin family—mother Jess, father Michael, and teens Dani and Anthony—live in Livingston, New Jersey. During the years 1979 through 1983, the family experiences great upheavals that center around Michael's affair with a family friend and Jess's subsequent rage and move to Florida. Each family member goes on, trying to cope with day-to-day living but also searching for the one person fated to be the love of his or her life, b'shert in Yiddish. The story begins with Anthony in 1983 and returns to his narration several times. Third-person narrative moves the story forward from 1979. The energy, emotions, and conflicts among the characters evolve through the changes in voice and time and through the author's beautiful writing. Although a great deal of the book concerns Anthony—his success in hockey, his pining for the girl next door, and his feelings for his parents, especially his mother—much also deals with Jess and her rejection of her Orthodox Jewish upbringing, her volatility, and her depression. The book also focuses on Michael and the changes in his emotions as he marries, becomes a doctor, deals with an aging widowed father who has found love, and searches for his own new love. This is a book one hates to finish reading—one wants to continue to know the characters and to read such lovely scenes as the one in which Anthony and Dani take a middle-of-the-night bike ride through town. The physical beauty, the closeness of brother and sister, and the impending sadness are all here. Recommend this book to mature teens interested in family dynamics and good writing. VOYA CODES: 5Q 2P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with aspecial interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, Harcourt, 312p, Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Susan H. Levine SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
KLIATT
This tells the story of Anthony Rubin, a Jewish boy growing up in and around Livingston during the 1980s. His life is messy. His mother is given to fits, his father is a philanderer, his older sister is a distant satellite, his next-door neighbor shoots herself to death in the garage and her husband may be in the Mafia. I guess none of this sounds funny, poignant, passionate, poetic, or magical, but it is. Reiken's tale of coming of age and its attendant angst is a faithful recreation of life with all its petty and important details. It's like the star maps Anthony and a friend study: constellations with greater or lesser stars, some too far away to be seen. And Anthony finds love and how much it hurts. Even his 81-year-old grandfather, who lives in a home for the elderly, finds love and flies off to Las Vegas to get married to a woman with a walker. This second novel comes highly recommended for adults and older teens (sex, drinking, smoking, violence, bad language). For free you get a tour of New Jersey, from the boardwalk at Asbury Park to the Meadowlands, from Allenhurst to Atlantic City. The only complaint I have about the novel is that it comes to an end. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Harcourt, 318p., $13.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janet Julian; former English Teacher, Grafton H.S., Grafton, MA SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
Library Journal
Coming of age in 1970s New Jersey, teenager Anthony Rubin channels his energy into his hockey team rather than dwell on his absent mother or the seemingly uncontrollable (though not unmourned) loss of his best friend and next-door neighbor, Jay. An extramarital affair between Jay's mother and Anthony's father has caused tension between the two families, and as Jay drifts away, Anthony's tightly strung mother is sent into a tailspin, flight, and a strained, long-distance motherhood. To this emotional turmoil, Reiken, whose debut novel, The Odd Sea, won the Hackney Literary Award, adds Anthony's crush on the tough-talking daughter of the touted neighborhood Mafioso. A guy never had a more harrowing sophomore year. The author fashions a hero in resilient Anthony, to whom the reader's heart goes out with the clear understanding that it will be in good hands. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/00.]--Margee Smith, Grace A. Dow Memorial Lib., Midland, MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Paul Gray
…complex [and] engrossing…
Time Magazine
Ron Charles
Lost Legends is a witty novel that bribes us to accept its painful moments with the sheer delight of unlikely romance...Reiken is a master at shaping the shadows of grief that common struggles cast...
Christian Science Monitor
Gary Krist
Affectionate but tough-minded . . . [Reiken] captures the poetry of the New Jersey condition, circa 1980, with a rare precision. In scene after scene of this novel-in-stories, he gets the amiable melancholy of suburbia exactly right . . .New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The gentle empathy for the intricate muddle of family and romantic relationships that distinguished Reiken's accomplished debut, The Odd Sea (1998), is also a dominant feature of this considerably more ambitious successor. The story, a plaintive demonstration of the truism "that we all lose things. That loving someone means having to bear the pain of separation," is set in northern New Jersey (Livingston) and Florida in the late 1970s and afterward, and in the minds and memories of its several major characters. Foremost is Anthony Rubin, a high-school hockey star and a hopeful romantic who believes he'll somehow liberate sexpot Juliette Dimiglio (daughter of a "minor gangster" besieged by loan sharks) from her oafish boyfriend, and reconcile his adulterous father Michael and unstable mother Jess (who abandons her family and moves to Florida). Reiken moves skillfully among these lives, and others (including those of Anthony's unillusioned older sister Dani[elle]; his former best friend Jay, the son of Michael's married mistress; and Michael's widowed father Max, in love again in his late 80s), creating multiple centers of interest that we visit again and again, in present time (during Anthony's visit to his mother, three years after her flight south) and in lengthy action-filled flashbacks. Outcroppings of both shockingly sudden violence (a suicide, two savage beatings) and slow inexorable decline (the anorexic resignation of a roommate with whom Anthony bonds when he's hospitalized for knee surgery, the increasing distance Jess keeps from even those she loves most) are subtly juxtaposed with quietly wrenching, oddly offbeat lyricalmoments(Michael's hilarious invention of "the Yiddish constellations" for his stargazing family; Anthony and Dani impulsively bike-riding through Livingston's deserted streets in the middle of the night). Such seductive mysteries cohere in Anthony's mind as "legends" that will simultaneously enrich him and—as the bittersweet conclusion shows—quietly break his heart. Young as he is, Reiken knows the territory of emotional commitment and confusion as well as anybody writing today. Beautiful stuff.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156010948
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/5/2001
  • Edition description: First Harvest Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 692,427
  • Lexile: 580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederick Reiken

Frederick Reiken holds a B.A. from Princeton and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine. His first novel, The Odd Sea, was chosen by Booklist as one of the 20 Best First Novels of the Year and won the Hackney Literary Award. He lives in Boston and teaches graduate writing classes at Emerson College.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

CONSTELLATIONS
Summer 1979

One summer many years ago, the Rubins and the Berkowitzes were out on the porch of the house they rented on the Jersey Shore in Allenhurst. It was a moonless night and stars were rising out from beyond the fold of the horizon. Two constellations kept on growing, almost like trees.

Anthony Rubin watched the ocean. Each time another star popped over the horizon, he readjusted his idea of just what the shapes resembled.

First he saw something that looked like a big panther. Then the shape turned into a box kite.

Claudia Berkowitz lit a cigarette. She turned to Anthony's father and said, "Michael, you were a Boy Scout. Shouldn't you know the constellations?"

"He was too busy chasing Girl Scouts," said Jess Rubin, Anthony's mother.

Michael stood up and said, "Well, I can at least tell you what I learned from my great-uncle. He sold scrap metal. We used to visit him in Binghamton."

"Michael, you're drunk," said Jess. "Sit down."

Claudia smiled and said, "Wait, I want to hear this."

"These are the Yiddish constellations," Michael continued.

"Somebody stop him," said Claudia's husband, Douglas, but no one did.

Anthony's father raised his hand. He pointed up to a bright zigzag of four stars. "Right there," he said. "We can see the shiny belt of the Yenta, Miriam." He pointed lower, to a cluster of stars that looked like a falling teapot. "And below Miriam, down on the horizon. That's Ira Nusbaum, the Swindler. Good thing that bandit's 40,000 light-years away."

He moved his hand across the sky and then picked out another random cluster.

He said, "And here, to the north, we can see Maury, the Disappointment. This constellation was named after my third cousin, Maury Rosenthal. You'll always find it near the luminous Sophie Schatzberg, also known as the Great Kvetch."

He paused and Claudia chimed in, "Wait. I think I'm seeing Howie Grossman, the Great Schlemiel."

"That's very good," Michael said. "Do we all know the myth of Howie?"

"Michael, enough," said Jess.

Anthony saw that his mother's eyes were incandescing with silent anger. He wondered whether she was offended. She'd been raised Orthodox and had gone to a yeshiva as a girl. But she'd stopped going after sixth grade. She had renounced all that yeshiva had tried to teach her, not to mention her parents' orthodoxy. When asked, his mother always claimed to be an atheist, and so he could not fathom why the Yiddish constellations made her angry.

"Poor Howie dropped the Torah during his own bar mitzvah," Michael continued.

"Such a schlemiel," Claudia said, and raised her cigarette to her lips.

"To keep him out of temple on High Holidays, God gave Howie his own place in the night sky."

Jess yelled out, "Stop!"

She glared at Claudia and rose. She crossed the porch and descended the wooden stairs, down to the sand. Anthony's father followed after her. When he caught up with her they stood talking on the beach for a few seconds. Then Jess walked off and headed down the shoreline.

Anthony knew where she was going. In recent weeks she'd spent half of her time out on the jetty. She sat alone, watching the ocean. She sometimes sat so far out that she got drenched by the spray of waves. Anthony saw that his father was returning, a web of stars hanging directly above his head as he walked back. When he stepped onto the porch, he said, "She's fine. She's just going to the jetty." He grabbed his drink and went inside to wait for her in their room.

Later that night, Anthony and Jay Berkowitz were out wandering the Asbury Park boardwalk. It was just one beach away from Allenhurst, and the boys often went there several times a day. They were with their closest down-the-shore friends, Bradley Kalish and Andy Sullivan. They all played Skee-Ball for a while, then walked the boards, acting like jerks, as they often did.

Andy Sullivan was a stud—long white-blond hair and blue eyes. Having him with them seemed to give the foursome license to talk to any pretty girls they saw. Not that they knew what to do when girls would actually respond. They were all thirteen, except Jay, who was eleven.

At some point they returned to Allenhurst, went down to the beach, and midget-wrestled. They had seen tag-team midget-wrestling on television. Now they had given themselves names. Jay was Wizard Eyes. Bradley was Laughing Man. Anthony was Puckhead and Andy was Dr. Death. They'd be announcers while they wrestled and always staged impossible situations. They would announce things such as, "Wizard Eyes, in a brilliant move, has ripped Dr. Death's arm off." Andy would then have to wrestle with one arm behind his back.

That night while wrestling, Anthony saw his mother. She'd just come off the nearest jetty and was walking back toward the house. He saw the stars in the sky above her. In some strange way his mother seemed like a constellation. He was about to run off after her, ask her why she got upset about the myth of Howie Grossman. Then Andy decked him. Jay jumped on top. He yelled, "And Puckhead is now crushed by a double dogpile!" Bradley dove in and yelled, "But Laughing Man...now mutilates Dr. Death and Wizard Eyes!" Anthony squirmed out from the pileup, rolled, and looked again for his mother. He tried to find her in the darkness, but she was gone.

During that summer they all became junior lifeguards. They got paid five dollars an hour. It was Andy's idea. His older brother, Shane, was the Allenhurst Beach lifeguard. Shane started out as a junior lifeguard—at least, he claimed to have. Anthony couldn't remember there ever having been such a thing as the junior lifeguards in the past.

As junior lifeguards they didn't do much lifeguarding. From time to time, Shane would take one of them up on watch. Mostly he took Anthony's sister, Dani, who was fifteen and just starting to fill out her bikini. She got more lifeguarding instruction from Shane than anyone, though she wasn't an official junior lifeguard. She wouldn't take part in the main junior lifeguard duty—cleaning the beach.

It was their job to get up at seven every morning and sweep the beach for whatever garbage the tide had brought in the night before. They'd get old sneakers, plastic bags, strange cans, occasionally a T-shirt. They also found lots of nonjunk—pieces of coral, dead starfish, shells, and that amazing ocean phenomenon known as sea glass. They would find rounded, opaque glass in colors ranging from dark brown to green to lavender. Anthony always thought it miraculous that broken glass, pollution, could be transformed into these gems that lined the shore of Allenhurst Beach each morning.

One day they woke up and found tar balls. It seemed another amazing ocean phenomenon, but not something they really wanted to keep. The balls were sticky and gross, though they looked hard, almost like marbles, when they washed up in the tide line. All week long Anthony, Jay, Bradley, and Andy collected the balls with shovels. They gathered hundreds of balls each day, while never knowing what they were or where they came from.

One morning in July, they woke to find the beach covered with syringes. It made the news hundreds of plastic little syringes without needles. Apparently, they'd been illegally dumped at sea. The syringes were reported from Sandy Hook all the way to Manasquan.

People were frightened of the syringes, which came in heavy for a week or so. Barely anyone would show up on the beach. Each day the junior lifeguards collected bagsful. At first they had to turn them over to the Environmental Police. Then it became a kind of mission. From seven to eight each morning, Anthony gathered them up as if his life depended on it. Despite the fear most people had, he knew the empty syringes were quite harmless. He always trusted the magic of the ocean to make things safe.

One night the four boys were playing Skee-Ball at the arcade on the Asbury Park boardwalk. To his own stupefaction and even mild discomfort, Anthony found that he couldn't miss. He barely tried, it seemed, yet almost every ball he rolled up the ramp jumped gently and arced right into the small bull's-eye, worth fifty points.

During one game he scored a rare, perfect four hundred. The machine spit out a very long strip of win tickets. He turned uneasily to Bradley, who was playing in the lane next to him.

"Hey, check this out," Anthony said. "A perfect game."

Bradley rolled his ball and got a thirty. He said, "No way," and turned to Anthony. He eyed the win tickets, which hung all the way to the floor. He said, "Hey Andy, check this out. Rubin just scored a perfect game."

Anthony glanced around for Jay. The last he'd looked, Jay was playing three lanes away.

He said, "Where's Jay?"

"Beats me," said Bradley. "Maybe the wizard boy went to do some math."

Andy said, "Jesus, check out all those tickets."

Anthony grabbed them and stuffed the tickets into his pocket. He turned to Bradley and said, "I'll be right back."

He started searching the arcade. He traversed three rows of Skee-Ball lanes and wove his way through all the rake-a-prize machines. He walked around the corner by the fun house, looked across the room toward the squirt-gun balloon clown game. He had the inexplicable sense that he'd find something, and he did.

He saw his father standing next to Claudia. She was leaning over the railing, her big butt staring Anthony in the face. His father's hand was resting on her back. She held a squirt-gun and was squirting at the mouth of a plastic clown. A red balloon was inflating out of the clown's head.

One balloon popped. It wasn't Claudia's. A little freckly-faced boy on the end had beaten her. Anthony sprinted out of the arcade before they turned.

He found Jay wandering by the railing. He ran up wildly and said, "I saw them."

Jay said, "Me too."

"It wasn't anything," said Anthony. "They're in there playing that stupid clown game."

Jay nodded. Anthony could not tell whether Jay was denying or confirming the assessment. Jay said, "Let's go down to the beach before they see us."

They weren't Asbury Park junior lifeguards, but it was bright from all the boardwalk lights and easy to find syringes. They gathered them out of habit, dropping them into an empty popcorn box they pulled out of a trash can. When they hit Allenhurst Beach they kept on walking. They passed their house and barely looked. They got as far as the next town, Deal, then something happened. As if some magical wind were blowing, the ocean sky grew clear and dark, and filled with stars.

"Holy shit," Jay said. "They're even brighter than that night your father did the Yiddish constellations."

"There's Sophie, the Kvetch," said Anthony, and pointed.

Jay said, "That's actually part of Cepheus, the King."

"How do you know that?" Anthony asked.

"I bought a star chart. I've been learning."

"You bought a star chart?"

Jay said, "Yeah. They have them on sale at the Shop Rite. My mother bought them for my brother and me. You should get one, or else you could steal Stuart's. He'd never notice."

It turned out Stuart, who was eight, had already lost his star chart. The next day Anthony bought a star chart of his own. For a few weeks he and Jay walked the beach at night and learned whatever summer constellations they could find. Sometimes they couldn't match a cluster to the chart, but Jay explained that there were many more stars than people would ever name. Jay said he'd read long ago in Ranger Rick that there were more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the whole earth. When Anthony thought of deserts, this seemed impossible. Most nights in Allenhurst they were lucky if five constellations were visible.

One night when Anthony got up to use the bathroom, he could see part of a constellation out the window. Framed by the windowpane, it looked just like a map. He moved closer, to see it all, and quickly realized it was Scorpio. Then he heard breathing from below.

When he looked down he saw his father and his mother. Out on the porch his dad was kissing her neck and unbuttoning her baggy flannel shirt. He kept on watching, thinking maybe he was dreaming. It almost didn't make sense that his parents would be kissing. Anthony kneeled and let his chin rest on the windowsill. There was a glow from the other porch lights, and an ocean wind that carried their breaths and sighs up to the window.

He saw his mother push his father's head back. He saw her slide the flannel shirt off her shoulders, then draw his face into her bosom. Her assertiveness amazed him. He kept wondering if somehow it were Claudia in disguise. But she was too tall and too agile, too lithe and sprightly in her movements to be Claudia. He saw his father kissing her breasts while his mother laughed and caressed his head. They both seemed happy, or else they were both drunk.

The next morning, she seemed calmer than she had for all that summer. She didn't go out to the jetty. She read and listened to the radio on the porch. At noon she asked Anthony and Dani if they wanted to go for burgers at the Windmill, their favorite restaurant. They all piled into her blue Honda and drove to Long Branch.

It was Dani who finally asked the question. They were eating on the top deck of the converted windmill, the lowest blade of the wooden rotor angling off to the right of Dani's head.

She said, "So Mom, what's going on?"

Their mother looked up from her burger.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"She means you've been kind of a nervous wreck all summer," Anthony said.

She put her burger down and said, "I had a scare. There was a chance that I had cancer of the cervix."

"And you found out it isn't anything?" Anthony asked her.

Their mother nodded. She said, "Last night."

"Everything's fine then?"

She said, "Everything is fine for the time being."

"You must have been so scared," said Anthony.

"It would have been okay to tell us," Dani said.

"I didn't think so," she said, and took a sip of her Diet Coke. "I always knew it wasn't cancer. Still I was trying to get ready, just in case."

During the second week of August, the fecal coliform count got so high that all the beaches closed. Apparently, there was some sort of flesh-eating bacteria in the water. Shane Sullivan claimed that the bacteria came from raw sewage that had been dumped into the ocean. He also claimed that it caused human skin to molt and come off like a crab shell.

The beaches stayed closed for six days. Anthony, Jay, Bradley, and Andy midget-wrestled and hung around the Asbury Park arcade. One rainy afternoon the four boys stood around the prize counter. They discussed prize options and what they planned to cash in all their win tickets for come Labor Day. Andy and Bradley both wanted the Muhammed Ali boxing gloves. Jay, who had barely any tickets, said he would probably go for the plastic back scratcher. After much deliberation, Anthony found that the only thing he liked besides the boxing gloves was a ceramic winged horse that was actually a coin bank. When he pointed the horse out, Jay said, "That's Pegasus, from mythology, just like the constellation." They had seen Pegasus several times while star-watching that summer. Somehow this incidental correlation settled things. Anthony nodded and said, "Yeah, that's what I'm going for."

That was also the week Bradley started them listening to Bruce Springsteen. He had just purchased a small boom box. He had four Bruce tapes and claimed that Bruce once dated his older sister. He started toting the boom box everywhere, playing all songs as loud as possible. One day while blasting the album Born To Run, Bradley suddenly stopped walking. He turned the volume down and looked at his friends dramatically. Then he said, "We are walking through Bruce's songs."

Jay and Anthony immediately got their parents to buy them Born To Run on cassette. They started listening to it religiously, and soon they knew every cryptic word of "Jungleland." Anthony found that Born To Run evoked a sadness, that certain songs were almost cinematic. Each time they listened to "Thunder Road," all of the lyrics would unfold again inside him. He'd always see a screen door slam. Then he would picture some wondrous girl named Mary, her dress waving as she danced across the floor of their house in Allenhurst.

Toward the end of that week of the closed beaches, they even had one Bruce-related miracle. They met two Teaneck girls, Denise and Jackie. The girls approached while Bradley was blasting "Rosalita" on his boom box. They started singing along and saying things like, "Totally awesome song!" Both went for Andy, of course, but he played soccer. Just a day after they met the girls, Andy left the shore in order to go to soccer camp in Maryland. This made things easier and soon they were all hanging out together on the boards.

Denise and Jackie were best friends. Jackie was fragile and quiet. She had short light brown hair and a gaze that always caused Anthony to wonder what she was thinking. Meanwhile Denise seemed the quintessential Jersey girl. She had thick black hair and plump breasts and would call out "Jinx!" whenever she and another person spoke the same word at the same time. Then she would punch the person's arm until the person named five movie stars or beer brands or whatever Denise asked for. Likewise Anthony always had to say "safety" if he burped, otherwise Denise would say "slugs" and then start punching. She had three brothers, which explained her sort of tomboy roughhouse nature. She even liked to midget-wrestle. Both she and Jackie got their own names, the Big Babe and Psycho Kitty.

One afternoon Anthony wound up alone with Jackie on the boardwalk. He had a crush on her by then. Jackie was eating cotton candy. They were both leaning against a railing, talking and watching small children ride the Asbury Park carousel. He got his guts up and placed his hand on hers.

She didn't move her hand away, but also did not respond to his bold gesture. They continued chatting as Jackie ate her cotton candy, her captured hand still clasping the metal railing. Finally Jackie pulled her hand back. She held out the purple cotton candy and said, "Want some?" He took a bite.

She said, "You're Jewish, right?"

He nodded.

"Then why the heck is your name Anthony? I've never met a Jew named Anthony in my life."

"I had this cousin," he said. "Anthony Spignatelli. He was half Jewish, half Italian. He died two months before I was born. Until then my parents planned to name me Eric, or else Jill."

"How did he die?"

"It was a mystery."

"They have to know."

"They say they didn't."

He took her hand again. For a few seconds Jackie stared as if assessing the situation. Anthony smiled, clasped her hand tighter. "I barely know you," she said, and pulled her hand away.

Allenhurst Beach reopened on a Sunday in mid-August. By then Anthony, Jay, and Bradley were getting bored with being junior lifeguards. They'd make one garbage pass in the morning, then they would run off to find Denise and Jackie. The girls belonged to The Breakwater Club in Deal. They had a freshwater pool and a snack bar, unlike Allenhurst. They had a shuffleboard court, and Anthony loved shuffleboard.

Because of Denise, they would always do laps in the swimming pool. Denise was big on self-improvement and was always pointing out the benefits of their various activities. Swimming laps helped both your muscle strength and cardiovascular capacity. She applied this logic to other things. For instance, midget-wrestling was good for learning how to defend yourself. Having to say "safety" after you burped taught you to think fast, or not burp. Playing shuffleboard honed your hand eye coordination. Weaving through people while jogging on the boardwalk was good for quickness. Anthony found this way of thinking to be contagious, though Jay did not. Once while star-watching, Anthony said, "It's teaching us to see better." Jay said, "You think I really care how well I see?"

One afternoon they were all getting ice-cream cones and milkshakes. The nicest thing about The Breakwater was the charge account. Denise and Jackie charged everything to their parents. When Jackie's younger sister, Lizzy, got her cone, she took one lick and the ice cream fell. Anthony happened to be standing right beside her. Without thinking, he reached out with his left hand and caught the ice cream. Denise said, "Wow, you're like Mr. Lightningfast Reflex." He placed the scoop back on Lizzy's cone.

An hour later they went body-surfing in the ocean, having conveniently forgotten that one week before the water was filled with flesh-eating bacteria. Anthony tended to get cold fast. After five minutes he was shivering uncontrollably. He caught a wave and missed the crest, so he got crashed, as they always put it. The wave's force slammed him against the sand, twisted him here and there and then pulled back. He rose and trudged out of the water. He could feel sand inside his bathing suit. So he walked over to the tidal pool by the jetty, and there he crouched in the shallow water to get the sand out.

He saw a blue-claw crab move past his feet and tried to catch it. He saw the starfish that always magically appeared in the tidal pools. He felt a tap on his left shoulder, turned around, and there was Jackie.

She said, "I followed you."

Anthony said, "I see that."

She stared in that sexy way that always made him want to know what she was thinking. So then he said it. He said, "Jackie, what are you thinking?"

She said, "Guess."

He said, "You want to look for crabs?"

Jackie said, "No."

She stepped into the tidal pool, sending a crab scuttling in Anthony's direction. It disappeared and then Jackie was beside him.

"I want to kiss you," she said. "That was so cool when you saved my sister's ice cream."

"You want to kiss me because I saved an ice cream?"

She never answered. They started kissing as they stood in the tidal pool. He'd never kissed anyone, though clearly Jackie had. Her touch was practiced, tender and delicate. She kept on pressing the tip of her tongue to his, then pulling back and saying, "You taste good."

They kissed in the tidal pool for about five minutes. He was just starting to press his tongue in far enough to touch her fillings. Then Denise, Bradley, and Jay ambushed them. They didn't see their three friends until they were running at them through the shallow water. "Break it up!" Denise yelled. She jumped on Jackie. Soon they were all tag-team midget-wrestling. Jackie and Anthony teamed up and went for Denise. They pinned her down and made her name five Democratic presidents. That day they also invented a new move they called "the starfish." To do the move required a tidal pool and abundant starfish. During a pin, the winner quickly grabbed a starfish and rammed it into the loser's face.

Just before Labor Day weekend, Anthony's mother got arrested. It was a weekday. Anthony's father and Douglas Berkowitz were each at home that night in Livingston, which was an hour's drive from Allenhurst without traffic. Sometimes they stayed there on weekday nights instead of braving the Parkway after work.

Both Jess and Claudia got tanked at a bar called Tides, which was in Belmar. On the way home, Jess was pulled over in Asbury. She was arrested for drunk driving and locked up in an Asbury Park jail cell. All four children were there when Claudia returned in a kind of frenzy. She said the officers acted like rough jerks and had left her standing on the roadside. Clearly as plastered as Jess Rubin, she had walked back because she figured she'd get pulled over if she drove.

Michael arrived an hour later, after receiving his wife's phone call from the jail house. He explained the situation to his children. Then he and Claudia went out. Anthony didn't know what to feel. He kept on thinking that his mother was somehow part of a Bruce Springsteen song. She was behind bars in the Asbury Park jail house. She'd had a cancer scare and wouldn't laugh at Yiddish constellations. Maybe it wasn't as mythical as "Jungleland," but it still seemed too confusing to be reality. He also knew that his mother would freak out when she got home.

The children sat around that evening playing Scrabble. They watched The Sound of Music on TV. They played Monopoly, the beach way—using sea glass in place of the plastic houses and hotels. They had lost most of the parts long ago, one night in Livingston when Dani got mad and threw the whole game at her brother's head.

Three hours later, Anthony's father returned with Claudia. He said that bail would not be posted until the morning. Anthony asked if this meant his mom would spend the whole night in a jail cell. His father said, "Unfortunately, yes."

Claudia told them not to worry. Dani yelled, "Why! It's your fault that she's in there!"

"It's no one's fault," said their father, and made Dani apologize to Claudia.

Still there was something completely off about the way Claudia was acting. Anthony sensed that she was secretly quite thrilled with his mother's fate. He couldn't read his dad as easily, but he seemed calmer than he should have been. They left the room, sat in the kitchen, and drank vodka.

Later that evening, Anthony saw them leaving. He was out on the porch with Jay. They had their star charts. It was the first starry sky they'd had in weeks.

He saw them skip down the stairs and turn right onto the sand below him. Before he thought very hard, he called out, "Going to see the Yiddish constellations?"

His father stopped and looked up. He said, "Anthony?"

He said, "Hi. I'm out here watching stars with Jay."

"I'm taking a little walk with Claudia," said his father. "Just down the beach, to calm our nerves. Then we have to go get the other car."

He said, "Okay," and understood for the first time that they were guilty. He watched them go and turned to Jay.

He said, "Our parents are definitely screwing."

Jay said, "I know," and shined a flashlight on his star chart. He turned it off and then looked up at the sky. "It took you this long to figure it all out?"

"My mom's in jail," Anthony said. "It's like she's locked up while they do this."

Jay said, "She is locked up," and shined his flashlight on the chart again. He shut the light off and then pointed. "Right there's Pegasus," he said. "Do you still plan to get that bank?"

Anthony fell asleep that night before his father returned with Claudia. He tried to slough the whole thing off as a bad dream. At about six he heard a car pull up. He heard the front door opening and closing. Soon he could hear his parents' voices. When he went down, they were sitting in the kitchen. His mother's elbows rested on the table and her forehead was pressed into her hands.

She looked up and said, "Honey?"

Anthony stepped into the kitchen and said, "Hi. Are you okay?"

"Fine," she said. "It was a very comfortable jail cell."

"We're talking," said his father.

He said, "I have to clean the beach."

He went upstairs to get dressed. He woke up Jay and they went out to do their Allenhurst junior lifeguard beach sweep. That morning Bradley didn't show up. For a few minutes they waited by the lifeguard chair. Then Jay suggested they get to it before a garbage tide floated in.

The found the usual plastic bags and beer cans. They stamped down seafoam in the places where it looked gross. They found a tennis ball in the tidal pool by the jetty. Anthony picked it up and noticed dozens of starfish lying placidly beneath the shallow water. He said, "Hey, look. They're making a constellation."

Jay said, "It's Miriam, the Kvetch."

"You mean Sophie."

He said, "Whatever."

Jay reached down into the water and grabbed a starfish.

"Don't even think it," Anthony said.

Jay said, "Think what?" and was all over him in a second.

They midget-wrestled. Jay kicked wildly. Anthony got hold of his arms pinned him easily. He grabbed a starfish and pressed it to Jay's face.

Jay yelled, "Okay! I think I'm lying on twenty starfish! I might kill them!"

He pushed Jay's face under the water. For one strange instant he truly felt like drowning him. Somehow Jay managed to kick him in the groin.

Jay squirmed away, brought his head up, and screamed, "You psycho!"

Anthony said, "What's your problem? I just dunked you."

Jay coughed some water, then looked up and yelled, "You psycho with a totally psycho mother!"

"I'll fucking kill you!" Anthony yelled, and lunged down at him.

Jay rolled away in the shallow water. He grabbed his garbage bag, got up, and darted out of the tidal pool. He yelled, "You'll never fucking catch me, you psycho idiot!"

"I'm sorry!" Anthony yelled, suddenly realizing he was a psycho idiot.

Jay yelled, "I don't accept your apology!"

He turned and ran down the beach with the green garbage bag. With his free hand he gave Anthony the finger. He held it up over his shoulder while he ran.

Around nine, when Anthony got back, he learned his family would be leaving the Jersey Shore that afternoon. His father had already begun packing. He talked to Dani, who said Mom had a nervous breakdown while making pancakes. She was now sitting out on the jetty. Anthony went outside and found his father cleaning out the car.

He said, "It's Labor Day. We can't stay here three more days?"

His father turned and said, "You know how your mother gets."

"But I can't go," Anthony said. "I met...a girlfriend. I also haven't cashed in my Skee-Ball win tickets."

"You have the day," his father said. "We leave for Livingston at five."

Even though Jackie wasn't really his girlfriend, Anthony searched for her, maniacally. In the course of just that morning, he jogged up to The Breakwater Club three times. He felt a panic but reminded himself of how he was improving his heart and lungs. After the third time he ran home and called Bradley, who said that Jackie must have gone yachting with her family. He yelled, "Since when does she have a yacht!" Bradley said, "Hey, take it easy. I'm just joking."

He packed his suitcase and made a final trip up to The Breakwater. He left a note with one of the club's cabana boys. The note explained that he unexpectedly had to leave, but that he hoped they would talk soon. He gave his phone number and home address in Livingston. He signed his name and at the bottom wrote: Please call!

In his last hour at the Jersey Shore, Anthony went alone to the Asbury Park boardwalk. He'd counted out all of his win tickets and had tied them with rubber bands. Had he not tried to drown Jay that same morning, he knew Jay might have lent him the forty-seven tickets he still needed. But by then Jay had disappeared with his mom and brother. They had all gone to see a drive-in movie.

At the arcade, he told the man he had four hundred fifty-three tickets. He asked for the winged-horse bank, which cost five hundred. The man suggested he take a frog bank, which cost less.

He said, "It's ugly. Can't you just give me the winged horse?"

The man said, "No."

"But I've been saving for it all summer."

"We're not a Burger King," the man said. "You can't always have it your way."

In the end, he wound up handing all his tickets to a long-haired boy who passed by on the boardwalk. He looked to be eight or nine and held a hockey stick, which was why Anthony had noticed him in the first place. He jogged right up to the boy and said, "Do you play Skee-Ball?"

The boy nodded.

"Then take these," Anthony said. "I don't have time to cash them in."

The boy said, "How come you don't just keep them for next summer?"

He said, "Just take them," and handed him the bag.

The boy said, "Thanks."

He said, "For forty-seven more tickets, you can get the winged-horse bank which is Pegasus, from mythology. He even has a constellation. You'd need a star chart."

The boy just nodded, then Anthony took off.

He could see Allenhurst Beach ahead of him. He smelled the tangy smell of ocean, which made him sad. He jogged with high steps, for no reason the way he sometimes did with Jay when they were imitating football. Two girls made fun of him as he passed, but he didn't care that he looked ridiculous. He knew that running this way improved his balance. He also knew that he would never be coming back.

Copyright (c) 2000 by Frederick Reiken, published by Harcourt, Inc. and reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What is the significance of the title? Can the chapters be considered "legends?" In what way, for instance, is the chapter entitled "Constellations" a legend? What about "Lost Meadows"? "Romeo and Juliette"? "B'shert"? "Juliette Wakes Anthony at Dawn"?

2. What are some of the specific geographical details that Reiken incorporates into the book? What particular locales emerge most distinctly? What else helps to establish a sense of place? How are the characters connected to the geography and culture of northern New Jersey circa 1980?

3. Both Michael and Jess Rubin might be said to be flawed characters, yet they are presented in a sympathetic light. How does Reiken's characterization process strike this balance? What is the effect of the book's use of multiple character perspectives or changing "point-of-view"?

4. Is Vincent Dimiglio really a mobster? Is there any evidence that Isabella Dimiglio ever was a prostitute? How does the book present the idea of mythmaking in regard to these and other characters?

5. In the chapters "Anthony Sells Juliette a Raffle" and "Wolves," Juliette contemplates her feelings toward her mother. What are they? What about her father? Aunt Camille? Why do you think she continues to date Tommy Lange?

6. In "Lost Mothers," Anthony wonders whether finding his mother "dead and bloody," as Juliette has, might be easier than having a mother who is still alive but absent in his life. How does Anthony's predicament compare with Juliette's? How do their responses to having a "lost mother" compare or contrast?

7. Is there any way to account for Jess's erratic behavior and obvious problems with relationships? Does she havean identifiable mental health disorder? In "A Brief History of Sadness," why does she begin and end an affair with her scuba diving instructor?

8. What is Joeyland? Is it a place specific only to Claudia? Why does Claudia decide to leave Joey Malinowski? How do her actions toward Joey compare to Leah Kleinfeld's actions toward her own high-school sweetheart, Paul Haney?

9. What does the inclusion of Leah Kleinfeld and Max Rubin, two secondary characters, accomplish for the novel? How do their respective stories treat the notion of love? How do their understandings of love compare to those of Jess and Michael?

10. In Yiddish the word b'shert literally means "meant to be" and is often used idiomatically to refer to one's destined romantic partner. How does the chapter "B'shert" play on this idea of the possibility of a destined "true love"?

11. The novel depicts characters from three generations. How does each character's age influence his or her opinion on marriage and the appropriateness of a particular mate? Do you consider Max's views to be atypical of his generation?

12. The novel makes allusions to the legendary doomed romance of Guinevere and Lancelot in the chapters "Angels Like Audrey Hepburn" and "Juliette Wakes Anthony at Dawn." How does this reference pertain to Anthony and Juliette? What about Jess and Eddie Fischer? Are there allusions to the Arthurian legend in other chapters?

13. Is there a logic to the sequence in which the chapters narrated in first person are arranged within the more prevalent third-person chapters? What is the effect of the first-person chapters on the overall shape and structure of the book?

14. Are there any distinct moments when something shifts or transforms during Anthony's visit with his mother in Florida? In "Sanibel," why does he focus on her gold jacket? What is the significance of the tunnel they swim through in "Atlantis"?

15. In the last chapter, Anthony notes that "One of the problems with all stories is they have borders." What does he mean by this? Which particular story lines feel like they continue beyond the borders of The Lost Legends of New Jersey? How does the book achieve its sense of closure?

Copyright (c) 2001. Published by Harcourt, Inc.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 15, 2013

    Good story that kept me hooked.  I finished this book in two day

    Good story that kept me hooked.  I finished this book in two days because I could not put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Almost too good to be true, this novel wins my personal award fo

    Almost too good to be true, this novel wins my personal award for book of the year. Simply yet skillfully written, it's about adulterous adults, confused teenagers, families breaking up and living with mistakes and loss in suburban New Jersey.

    On those strengths alone, the book enthralled me. But two added features put it over the top.

    First, it's set in the very spot in New Jersey where I grew up. Most of the action takes place in Livingston. Also mentioned are Millburn, where I went to high school; South Mountain Arena, where I learned to ice skate; the Turtle Back Zoo, scene of grade school field trips; and the teenage hangouts Don's Restaurant and Friendly's.

    That's a nice coincidence for me personally. But what's even better is the author's admirable skill in making his points in multiple ways. He often uses the plot and characters to deliver his message. But then he'll deliver the same message in a different way, often with metaphors. The more closely I read, the more of this I discovered. It gave me the sense that the book was working on several levels at once, and it unfolds in a way that seamless and natural.

    Here are two of my favorite examples.

    Anthony, the central teenage character, is drawn to Juliette, the tough Italian girl next door. Anthony wants to save Juliette from a broken family, her own bad decisions and a meathead jock boyfriend with a mean streak. Reiken handles this first in a literal sense, with Anthony giving Juliette advice. Then the writer approaches the same issue symbolically. One night, Anthony helps Juliette to recognize the constellation Leo, also her astrological sign. At first, she can't see it. Then she recognizes it, and it's bigger than she expected. She also notices more stars than she's ever seen before. Reiken's telling us to learn to see ourselves clearly, to rise above pain and turmoil and see the beauty of life. This is my kind of symbolism -- obvious and accessible, the kind I can understand without too much effort.

    In another episode, Anthony loses his virginity. But Reiken reverses the usual boy/girl roles. An older girl seduces Anthony. He's smitten, but she discards him after a one-night stand. She'd rather spend after-school time becoming a junior paramedic so that she can improve her chances of getting into medical school (heartless!). Later, after Anthony knows the affair is over, she gives him a ride in her car, which has a removable blue light and siren for paramedic use.

    "She said, "I'm glad I robbed your cradle. Aren't you?"

    ”I wish I knew."

    She kept watching him for a moment. Then she said, "Well, we'd better get this siren in."

    She hit the switch for the power window. She reached outside, pulled it in, and the whole car filled up with its blue light. She said, "Look into my crystal ball. If you look hard, you'll see your future." Anthony looked and for a moment the light was blinding. Then it died. She had pulled the plug."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    Almost Too Good to be True

    Almost too good to be true, this novel wins my personal award for book of the year. Simply yet beautifully written, it's about adulterous adults, confused teenagers, families breaking up and living with mistakes and loss in suburban New Jersey. On those strengths alone, the book enthralled me. But two added features put it over the top. First, it's set in the very spot in New Jersey where I grew up. Most of the action takes place in Livingston. Also mentioned are Millburn, where I went to high school; South Mountain Arena, where I learned to ice skate; the Turtle Back Zoo, scene of grade school field trips; and the teenage hangouts Don's Restaurant and Friendly's. That's a nice coincidence for me personally. But what's even better is the author's admirable skill in making his points in multiple ways. He often uses the plot and characters to deliver his message. But then he'll deliver the same message in a different way, often with metaphors. The more closely I read, the more of this I discovered. It gave me the sense that the book was working on several levels at once, and it unfolds in a way that seamless and natural. Here are two of my favorite examples. Anthony, the central teenage character, is drawn to Juliette, the tough Italian girl next door. Anthony wants to save Juliette from a broken family, her own bad decisions and a meathead jock boyfriend with a mean streak. Reiken handles this first in a literal sense, with Anthony giving Juliette advice. Then the writer approaches the same issue symbolically. One night, Anthony helps Juliette to recognize the constellation Leo, also her astrological sign. At first, she can't see it. Then she recognizes it, and it's bigger than she expected. She also notices more stars than she's ever seen before. Reiken's telling us to learn to see ourselves clearly, and to rise above pain and turmoil and see the beauty of life. This is my kind of symbolism -- obvious and accessible, the kind I can understand without too much effort. In another episode, Anthony loses his virginity. But Reiken reverses the usual boy/girl roles. An older girl seduces Anthony. He's smitten, but she discards him after a one-night stand. She'd rather spend after-school time becoming a junior paramedic so that she can improve her chances of getting into medical school (heartless!). Later, after Anthony knows the affair is over, she gives him a ride in her car, which has a removable blue light and siren for paramedic use. She said, 'I'm glad I robbed your cradle. Aren't you?' ¿I wish I knew.' She kept watching him for a moment. Then she said, 'Well, we'd better get this siren in.' She hit the switch for the power window. She reached outside, pulled it in, and the whole car filled up with its blue light. She said, 'Look into my crystal ball. If you look hard, you'll see your future.' Anthony looked and for a moment the light was blinding. Then it died. She had pulled the plug.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2003

    'Lost' is right!

    This book came so highly recommended, but I was terribly disappointed. I kept reading because I thought it must get better, but it never did. I couldn't warm up to a single character because none of them seemed real.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2002

    Great and in-depth of character emotions

    From page one, the reader becomes instantly in touch with the character and is led on a journey through each chapter of many real experiences.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2002

    Rock ON!

    This Book RULES! It has no real point but I love the way it was writen. The Odd Sea is great too. To be able to portray someones life like that takes real talent. I enjoyed the book, and think that lots of other people will too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2001

    lovely and absorbing

    This is the first Reiken book I've read and I consider it a gem. I loved Anthony and reading about his flawed but loving family. I loved the Jersey feel and nostalgia and the wamth that resonated from every page. I am going to read The Odd Sea now.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2000

    Close but no cigar!

    If you interested in reading a 'Frederick Reiken' then try The Odd Sea. If you enjoy this book then, maybe try The Lost Legends of New Jersey. This book lacks the subtle mystery and suspense of the Odd Sea and leaves you wondering 'What did I get out of this?'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2000

    Just pure pleasure!

    This has got to be the most wonderful novel I have read in the last year. It's hard to believe, but Reiken has topped his first novel The Odd Sea. Here he has created a story and world so throughly real that I would swear that I grew up with or knew the characters who inhabit it. My only disappointment is that the book had to end

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2000

    brilliant second novel

    I loved The Odd Sea but Lost Legends of New Jersey takes Reiken's abundant talent to new levels! While Odd Sea was a lovely, moving story, Lost Legends is a bigger, wider, farther reaching, deeply resonant piece of literature. It's also an important commentary on 1980s era New Jersey suburbia, though more forgiving than books like The Ice Storm (set in CT) and more meaningful. A brilliant book and one that should put Reiken on the literary map.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)