Paradise Park by Allegra Goodman

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Allegra Goodman has delighted readers with her critically acclaimed collections Total Immersion and The Family Markowitz, and her celebrated first novel, Kaaterskill Falls, which was a national bestseller and a National Book Award finalist.

Abandoned by her folk-dancing partner, Gary, in a Honolulu hotel room, Sharon realizes she could return to Boston—and her estranged family—or listen to that little voice inside herself. The voice that asks: “How come Gary got to pursue his causes, while all I got to pursue was him?” Thus, with an open heart, a soul on fire, and her meager possessions (a guitar, two Indian gauze skirts, a macramé bikini, and her grandfather’s silver watch) Sharon begins her own spiritual quest. Ever the optimist, she is sure at each stage that she has struck it rich “spiritually speaking”—until she comes up empty. Then, in a karmic convergence of events, Sharon starts on the path home to Judaism. Still, even as she embraces her tradition, Sharon’s irrepressible self tugs at her sleeve. Especially when she meets Mikhail, falls truly in love at last, and discovers what even she could not imagine—her destiny.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Allegra Goodman

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Allegra Goodman's novels include Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. She is a winner of the Whiting Writer's Award and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit or become a fan on Facebook.
Published October 21, 2009 by The Dial Press. 372 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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But now he’s taken off, leaving Sharon with a hotel bill she can’t pay and “all these questions and ideas about this higher power.” Over the next 19 years, mostly in Hawaii, Sharon pursues enlightenment in various forms, from joining a Pentecostal church to majoring in religion at the local unive...

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Publishers Weekly

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Goodman's (Kaaterskill Falls) marvelous new novel involves a woman's tragicomic search for spiritual meaning, a journey as physically peripatetic as it is emotionally migratory.

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Book Reporter

Maybe it's because I have fancy free friends with threads similar to Sharon's running through their own macramé bikinis, or maybe it's because Sharon's life, and Goodman's artful but relentless description of it, is tiring all on its own.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Paradise Park

Entertainment Weekly

She writes in the first person about the spiritual and sexual evolution of a young woman, Sharon Spiegelman, who grows from being a 1970s style, tie-dyed, secular Jewish hippie chick who's passionate about ethnic folk dancing in Cambridge, Mass., to praying as a modern Orthodox Jewish mother who'...

Mar 14 2001 | Read Full Review of Paradise Park


Sharon Spiegelman, the narrator of this disappointing novel, spends the 1970s and '80s wandering the Hawaiian islands, dabbling in spiritual movements, drugs and sexual adventures.

Apr 16 2001 | Read Full Review of Paradise Park

Boston Review

Goodman telescopes the next three years of Sharon's growth: still feeling confined by Judaism's rules and requirements, she is seduced by its poetry and light.

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