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The Accident at 13th and Jefferson by Brenda…
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The Accident at 13th and Jefferson (edition 2012)

by Brenda J. Carlton

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147683,257 (3.69)None
michigantrumpet's review
We've all had those 'What if ... ' moments: "What if I'd gone through that traffic light instead of waiting?" "What if I'd been three further ahead in the line for lottery tickets?" An infinitesimal change in circumstances with life changing consequences. The literary conceit of 'The Accident at 13th and Jefferson' delightfully explores just that. Three different takes on the same event -- a rock thrown up by a careening motorcycle strikes and kills a bystander. A boy's birthday party has just ended. He and his parents are walking his best friend and the friend's mother through the front yard to their home next door. In the first tale, it is the boy's mother who dies, leaving her husband struggling to find the parenting skills he'd relied upon her to provide. In the next, it is the father who dies, leaving the boy to find a male role model in his unreliable and criminal uncle. In the final story, the boy himself is struck down, leaving his parents and best friend each to struggle with their grief. That the best friend doesn't know he is the son of a presidential contender spices up the mix even more.

I liked that more is revealed about each character as the book progressed, and appreciated the short coda at the end in which everyone is spared. Carlton's dialogue is well written and her plot moves along nicely, while still allowing for descriptive character development. Having lost a parent as a young girl, I was concerned this would be an emotionally difficult book to read. My trepidation was unwarranted -- the characters' grief felt utterly genuine but not overdone. Indeed, overall it was an uplifting book and a paean to the strength of love and friendship. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Dec 22, 2012 |
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Showing 7 of 7
I enjoyed this book. I liked the format of 3 different outcomes to an accident. I liked the way most of the characters were developed though not necessarily their personalities. (see the brother and mother.) Each story seemed well thought out.
I think this writer will be one to watch over time. She will only get better.
There were some problems with this book, however. I noticed some POV problems as well as some problems with dialogue. Some of the teen language especially rang false.
I did find the family dynamics interesting, though. Each family has their problem people and these characters are no exception. It was fun to watch what happened with each version of the story.
I recommend it. ( )
  jldarden | May 21, 2014 |
As a small pickup turned the corner at 13th and Jefferson, the wind raised the drop cloth over its load and some of the rocks holding down the cloth fell to the ground. The truck driver continued, anxious to drop off his load at a Goodwill store and meet his buddies at a bar.
Across the street, Josh was enjoying his 14th birthday party in his back yard with some friends, his parents, and a neighbor. After the party, Josh, his parents Bonnie and Tom, and his friend Max and his mother Elaine began to walk to their house across the street. A speeding motorcyclist skidded as he rounded the corner. The cycle hit the group of rocks and one of them, no longer than an egg but split, leaving a sharp edge, flew out from under one of the wheels and headed towards the group. This is where the story, or rather, stories, diverge.
Starting at this point, Brenda J. Carlton created three different scenarios, each with a different ending depending on what happened to that rock. I read only Book 1 in which the rock struck Bonnie in the neck, severing a vein. She lives long enough to get into an operating room but dies before she can be saved. Tom is killed in Book 2, Josh in the Book 3.
The remainder of the book tells the story of how her death affected Tom, Josh, Elaine, and Max, continuing until Josh and Max become adults. Bonnie and Elaine had been very close friends as were Josh and Max.
Tom is totally unprepared to be a single parent and hasn’t a clue about what to do. His construction job keeps him away during the days, which effects Josh’s school participation and their home life. Bonnie was the one who took care of things. Now, nothing seems to get done. At one point, Josh realized that the house looked like it had been “ransacked” and it would be up to him to clean it. “He realized that he made more of the mess than his father did, but it still didn’t seem right that he should be burdened with the cleaning.”
They both began relying on Elaine as they continued to wander through the maze of what should be done and who should do it. After a while, Josh asked Tom, “What the hell are you doing, Dad.” Tom told him to “Watch your mouth. Josh smirked. If he was going to have to grow up fast, he’d talk any way he liked.”
Elaine had never married and Max had no idea who his father was. He didn’t know that his father no personal contact; in fact, he didn’t even know if his child was a boy or a girl.
Elaine’s mother, who also never married, worked for Planned Parenthood. When talking about abortion or adoption, Elaine explained, “people who have nothing to lose usually keep the babies themselves. It’s usually young women who don’t want to lose their chance to finish college or start their career or else women who are dependent on men that don’t want the child who abort.”
In explaining the circumstances of his birth to Max, Elaine, who owned a nursery and worked with plants and landscaping, observed that it laws had to be passed to end gender discrimination in the workplace. “Mostly it was a matter of convincing people that women were not dumber than men. Even a lot of the women believe that since they’d been hearing it all their lives.
“Women have always submitted to the rule of men because they could find themselves pregnant and with little children to care for at the most inconvenient times. If they could have babies only when they chose to, they could live their lives any way they wanted.”
Near the end of Book 1, Max delivers a parody of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for funny, informative speech at Josh’s wedding. It sums up their story in a delightful manner.
As much as I appreciated the feminist angles, I can’t believe that Tom was so totally inept in so many ways.
I received this book via a free Kindle download. I wish Books 2 and 3 had also been included because I really like the premise. ( )
  Judiex | Mar 11, 2013 |
The book really tells us three stories; each begins on the same day when an accident happens, and in the three stories different people get killed in the accident, which leads to different subsequent storylines.
I like the way the three stories show how a small difference in a single event can lead to a totally different future. Though I thought that sometimes the stories might have diverged too much (especially Max and Josh are very different), I do agree that small changes can have large consequences. Especially events that happen in one's youth can have a lifelong effect, and Carlton nicely illustrates this in this work.
Especially in the first part the storytelling sometimes gets a tad monotonous, but all in all I liked the stories. The characters were described very well and seemed very human and lifelike. ( )
  Britt84 | Feb 22, 2013 |
Very interesting concept for this book, well for three books in one actually. The Accident at 13th and Jefferson is really three books in one that mirror the same characters all with a common theme of an accident that takes place in the beginning of each book. The idea of what difference does this one person make in the lives of their families is what defines each book. Not to give anything away lets just say that in book one a member of a family is involved in an accident, in book two it is a different member of the same family that is involved in an accident and in book three, well you get the picture. The author then takes us through the after effects of the loss of a family member and how differently the remaining family members lives turn out. Think along the lines of "It's a Wonderful Life" with a thicker plot (certainly without the Christian aspect). There were different turns of events in each of the three books that I didn't expect and I did enjoy the thought process of wondering how life would be different in each of the three stories. On the negative side in book one there was far too much detail about a baseball game then I cared to read, far too much detail in general in fact but by book three I wanted more detail in some areas and there were just generalized statements. For me more detail on the human side (for example when Max traveled to Colorado for the first time I would have liked to see more details about how he got there: private plane; traveled with Jim the bodyguard, etc.) of things and less detail on facts would have made this story more enjoyable. Once again, very interesting concept and an overall good read. ( )
  karen.collins | Jan 15, 2013 |
We've all had those 'What if ... ' moments: "What if I'd gone through that traffic light instead of waiting?" "What if I'd been three further ahead in the line for lottery tickets?" An infinitesimal change in circumstances with life changing consequences. The literary conceit of 'The Accident at 13th and Jefferson' delightfully explores just that. Three different takes on the same event -- a rock thrown up by a careening motorcycle strikes and kills a bystander. A boy's birthday party has just ended. He and his parents are walking his best friend and the friend's mother through the front yard to their home next door. In the first tale, it is the boy's mother who dies, leaving her husband struggling to find the parenting skills he'd relied upon her to provide. In the next, it is the father who dies, leaving the boy to find a male role model in his unreliable and criminal uncle. In the final story, the boy himself is struck down, leaving his parents and best friend each to struggle with their grief. That the best friend doesn't know he is the son of a presidential contender spices up the mix even more.

I liked that more is revealed about each character as the book progressed, and appreciated the short coda at the end in which everyone is spared. Carlton's dialogue is well written and her plot moves along nicely, while still allowing for descriptive character development. Having lost a parent as a young girl, I was concerned this would be an emotionally difficult book to read. My trepidation was unwarranted -- the characters' grief felt utterly genuine but not overdone. Indeed, overall it was an uplifting book and a paean to the strength of love and friendship. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Dec 22, 2012 |
I loved the prologue to this book, the way it was written as well as the sense of impending tragedy building up with a sense of cosmic necessity in motion. Great cover too. The book is thought-provoking in its explorations of what if that rock kicked up by the motorcycle hit the father, or the mother, or their teenage son? In what ways would those left behind miss that person and try to carry on in their absence? The book is good in these explorations. What it could use is less jumping around on points of view and more trust in a reader's ability to draw their own conclusions from what the characters are doing. The prose is full of wordy explanations. The character was thinking/hoping/ worrying about X, so he . . . Or the character did such-and-such because . . . The narrator explains too much and does it for too many different characters in any given scene. I must admit that I just finished reading Beyond This Place by A.J. Cronin before picking up this novel. Cronin's writing is so vivid, beautiful, dramatic, and precise in word choice, just laying things out there for the reader to observe and draw conclusions from, that I would re-read paragraphs just to savor them. When reading Accident at 13th & Jefferson, I found myself wishing for a similar experience of writing so good that I wanted to go back and revisit parts. Ms. Carlton shows great promise, though. Some of the exchanges at the camp Mitch takes Josh to do more dramatic rendering than explaining rationales, so the author shows herself capable of this. ( )
  gerglodek | Dec 16, 2012 |
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I really liked the book (s). They each had the same characters reacting to the same accident with a different victim. Great premise. The first and the last were lighter but still showed great human reactions. The middle story was much darker but really well done. I liked the book. ( )
  KathleenMcC | Dec 10, 2012 |
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