Frederick Reiken







Foreign Editions






The Lost Legends of New Jersey


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 left New Jersey altogether. Confronted with an overwhelming sense of loss, Anthony focuses on the one thing he feels he can save – his neighbor Juliette, the tough-talking daughter of a reputed Mafioso. 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.

Praise for The Lost Legends of New Jersey

“Reiken reminds us that when good literature comes along, it feels, like true love itself, as if something legendary is occurring.”

- The Washington Post Book World

“What's distinctive about Reiken's book is not so much the period detail -- Bruce Springsteen on the boom box, the summertime Jersey shore, the local diner -- although he nails these targets with a sharpshooter's eye. Nor is it the effortless unfolding of plot. What's singular here is the author's ability to conjure moments of dazzling joy out of a mournful story. Love blooms around pain, humor peeks out behind tragedy, and beauty, most unexpectedly, shines through the mundane.”

- The Baltimore Sun

“By turns funny, poignant, clever and sad, Lost Legends is almost unerringly original...Reiken is an inspired storyteller, shifting gracefully from the ethereal to the earthly, and then meshing the two...Part of the reason Reiken's stories are so engaging is that he is so good at drawing characters that are multilayered, familiar and yet totally individual...You find yourself wishing that Reiken's beautiful, affecting writing and his haunting characters and their stories could go on and on.”

- The Philadelphia Inquirer (Sunday front page)

“Reiken's enchanted garden is New Jersey, that unlikely literary Eden, a place no ordinary mortal has ever called the "garden state" without irony. But Reiken manages to make New Jersey poetic and evocative...Reiken has a gift for exposing a character's pain and letting him grapple with it, know it, and learn to live with it...The mysterious achievement of Reiken's novel is to affirm rather than shake our faith in love.”

- Newsday

“Affectionate but tough-minded...captures the poetry of the New Jersey condition, circa 1980, with a rare precision. In scene after scene, Reiken gets the amiable melancholy of suburbia exactly right. Whether he's depicting the mournful uneasiness of two siblings on a last moonlit bike ride or the bewilderment of an estranged father giving himself over to the healing power of a Jacques Cousteau special, Reiken knows how to charge the quietest domestic scenes with consequence and emotion.”

- The New York Times Book Review

“...a poignant and magical coming-of-age story that "deftly explores the mysteries of love and loss”

- Time

“Frederick Reiken has created a rich, seductive mythology out of the ordinary places and people of the Garden State...As evocative of suburban life as the best work of Philip Roth or John Updike...the Lost Legends of New Jersey is one of the finest novels published this year.”

– The Los Angeles Times

“The Meadowlands, the diners, and Atlantic City are all here, but Reiken invests them with an almost mythic beauty...A wise book filled with people a reader cannot help but care for.”

- The Boston Sunday Globe (front page)

“Frederick Reiken has delivered a memorable second novel about a young man's journey into maturity in a family marked by emotional upheaval during an era characterized by rootlessness.”

- The Wall Street Journal

“Reiken strikes a delicate balance between mysteries and matters of fact...By the conclusion of this complex, engrossing novel, the title no longer seems the least bit funny.”

- Time

"What a pleasure to read a novel and forget that you are reading...Frederick Reiken's wondrously appealing second novel contains the confusion, hurt and hope of real life. Its particular time and place become ours...a beautifully told story.”

- The Chicago Tribune

“Imbued with pathos and humor, hope and longing, this is an imaginative love story that flows gracefully toward an affecting conclusion.”

- Book

“The writing itself is lucid and complex...This is part of Reiken’s gift: rendering people, even the ones who do not behave as well as they should, likeable enough to make the reader care about them.”

- The Orlando Sentinel

“The gentle empathy for the muddle of family and romantic relationships that distinguished Reiken's accomplished debut, The Odd Sea, is also a dominant feature of this considerably more ambitious successor...Reiken knows the territory of emotional commitment and confusion as well as anyone writing today. Beautiful stuff.”

- Kirkus (starred review)

“With a Springsteen-shaded touch of Camelot, this novel confirms that Reiken is a talent to track. Lost Legends is a work of compassionate perception.”

-The Newark Star Ledger

“Reiken time and again demonstrates an observant eye for the passing scene and a passionately lyrical heart. His spare, understated depictions of a nighttime visit to a caged tapir; of a stumble across a foggy band-instrument burial ground; and of a dive through a coral tunnel in the waters off Key Largo are particularly breathtaking...”

- The Miami Herald (Sunday front page)

“Elegiac and unsparingly direct, funny and poignant...a beautiful story about loss, hope, and survival.”

- Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

“Reiken's second novel merges the ordinary and the mythological in the suburbs of New Jersey...Reiken seamlessly combines stark realism with fantasy in this exceptional tale of love and loss.”

- Booklist (starred review)

“...Certain moments are charged with an enchanted and melancholy energy...”

- The Seattle Times

“You vault into things, [protagonist] Anthony thinks, and then you hope. Here’s a book that justifies that hope.”

- The Christian Science Monitor

“Like Raymond Carver's short story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,’ Reiken explores the various stages of love without lapsing into simple definitions...Reiken is able to take ordinary people and render them extraordinary in their tragedies and victories.”

- The San Francisco Chronicle

“Reiken writes thoughtfully, but he lets his ideas run quietly under the surface of the narrative. A master of show-don’t-tell, he demonstrates that actions can speak louder than words, even in literature.”

- The Memphis Commercial Appeal


Buy The Lost Legends of New Jersey from:


Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Amazon UK

Collins Booksellers, Australia


Books by Frederick Reiken

Day for Night

The Lost Legends of New Jersey

The Odd Sea



Day for Night ·  The Lost Legends of New Jersey ·  The Odd Sea

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