I loved this book! The protagonist, Sharon Speigelman, is a culturally Jewish-American woman with no religious experience, who from age 20 to her early forties, seeks spirituality in Hawaii, Jerusalem, Washington, Brooklyn and finally in Boston.
Told in the first-person, Sharon is articulate and intelligent, sensual and sexy, and also a bit ditsy. While she is serious about knowing God, she doesn't take herself too seriously. She acknowledges her mistakes and shortcomings, but never apologizes for making the choices she makes.
Goodman has a good feel for describing both Jews and Gentiles, including the Hasidic Jewish Orthodox communities in Mea Shearim in Isreal and in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She clearly yet lovingly depicts all of the characters in Paradise Park with sensitivity and affection. There are no villains in this book, although all the characters, including Sharon, are fallible and make mistakes that hurt her. Like Sharon, I forgive them all their foibles.
abandoned by folk-dancing partner, Sharon realizes she could return to Boston and her estranged family or listen to that little voice inside herself. The heroine of this piece of modern literature begins her own spiritual quest: living with the red-footed
I really lived in this book for a while. The narrator is charmingly foolish at times and always witty. I found myself rooting for her even as I shook my head at some of her questionable decisions. This comes highly recommended.
I read this book for a class, and loved it! Sharon, the main character, is searching for G-d and for religious truth. The book is accessible to both Jews and non-Jews, as the words and terms are all explained or translated by Goodman. The book is also well-written and thought-provoking. I'd recommend this book to anyone who has had a religious journey, or simply wants to read about one.
The main character of Paradise Park was Sharon, a folk dancing hippy who follows her boyfriend to Hawaii. When she is abandoned on the island with nothing, instead of going home and starting a new and better life and reconsiling with her family, she stays in Hawaii to wander. At times the reader is drawn to her, feeling sorry for her and her situations. However, she is extremely self-absorbed and cannot stop whining about her situation. I believe that this character was supposed to be like that, and was written very detailed by Allegra Goodman, in a poetic and thought-out manner. This woman is going on a journey to find God and religion, but NOTHING ends up working for her, fulfilling her. Finally she finds Judaism, but even that isn't good enough for her. In the end she still critisizes the religion. People tell her that she hasn't changed, and she hasn't, but she doesn't see it that way.
However, the overall message in this book is excellent. It is about finding yourself and not letting anybody stop you. She went through many things, which were essentially the same situations with different names and places, but in the end, she found what made her happy.