Farewell Summer is Ray Bradbury's self-declared second half of his much-loved autobiographical novel Dandelion Wine, first published in 1957. We return to the story to find the now-14-year-old Douglas Spaulding on the cusp of adolescence in Green Town, Illinois. But, without quite knowing why, the teenager is struggling against the daily encroachment of age, adulthood and time itself. Doug leads his gang of almost-teens in a war against Green Town's senior citizens, who are believed to be killing summer and forcing time onto the kids. Members of Doug's gang steal the chess pieces off the park chess tables, sneak into the town hall and sabotage the town clock. All the while, Doug is being challenged by his younger brother Tom, who is still a child, still a boy, while Doug is beginning to experience flashes of adulthood.
Bradbury is still a master at catching the fleeting moments of adolescence and the hopeful and beautiful instances of intergenerational communication. The novel's conclusion may leave readers more than a little puzzled and uncomfortable, but getting to that end has many of the familiar joys of Bradbury's previous work.
Gavin J. Grant is the co-editor of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: 2006 (St. Martin's). Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 July #2
Bradbury has yet another lesson to share about growing up and growing old.It's Oct. 1, and the boys of summer are fighting one final battle. Brothers Doug and Tom Spaulding are squeezing the last bit of their freedom out of every day, but school is upon them. Apart from time and the change of season, their primary enemy is Calvin Quartermain, gray-haired member of the school board. And then, with one burst of gunfire from a cap pistol, Doug finds himself the leader of a revolution. For the boys and their sidekicks, it's a revolution against growing up. For the opposition, it's a war against growing old. Skirmishes begin, with both sides suffering casualties in one form or another. Doug and curmudgeonly Quartermain are decades apart in age, but they have a common heritage. The small-town setting is really just window-dressing for the two main characters. The Civil War looms large in this story, framing each section, with Doug carrying the bulk of the narrative. Like Peter Pan, he is the boy who doesn't want to grow old. He's haunted by strange dreams, feelings he does not understand. In his mind, all he can do is lash out at the world. For Quartermain, the battle of wits is a challenge to his manhood. He has the most to lose. In an afterword, Bradbury reveals that this novel was originally part of Dandelion Wine (1957). There's a young boy inside every old man, and Bradbury is no exception.A thin work, heavily reliant on dialogue, but one that serves as an intriguing coda to one of Bradbury's classics. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2006 June #2
Lessons for (and from) the boys of Green Town, IL, who don't want summer to end. A sequel to Dandelion Wine, which Bradbury delivered 50 years ago. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Reviews 2006 September #1
A follow-up to Bradbury's 1957 novel, Dandelion Wine, this Tom Sawyer-meets-Peter Pan novella is creepier than the first book but retains the elegiac tone and lovely descriptions of 1920s boyhood. In the author's note, Bradbury says he had planned to publish Farewell Summer as part of Dandelion Wine, and it works best as an extension of that book, giving more plot and substance to what was mainly a collection of reminiscences. Doug and Tom, the brothers from Dandelion Wine, have gathered together an army of neighborhood boys. They plan to wage war against some of the town's old men, believing that if they win, they will never have to grow up. They try various tactics-fasting, stealing the old men's chess pieces, destroying the town clock-but ultimately, of course, there is nothing to be done, and time moves pitilessly on. A sequel nearly 50 years in the making will surely find interested readers. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 August #1
This poignant, wise but slight "extension" of the indefatigable Bradbury's semiautobiographical Dandelion Wine picks up the story of 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding in October of 1928, when the warmth of summer still clings to Green Town, Ill. As in his episodic 1957 novel, Bradbury evokes the rhythms of a long-gone smalltown America with short, swift chapters that build to a lyrical meditation on aging and death. Playing at war, the imaginative Douglas and his friends target the town's elderly men, and the outraged 81-year-old bachelor Calvin C. Quartermain attempts to organize a counterattack against the boys' mischief. Rebelling against their elders and the specter of age and death Douglas and his gang steal the old men's chess pieces before deciding that Time, as embodied by the courthouse clock, is their true nemesis. The story turns on a gift of birthday cake that triggers Douglas and Quartermain's mutual recognition: "He had seen himself peer forth from the boy's eyes." Soon thereafter, Douglas's first kiss and new, acute awareness of girls serves as the harbinger of his inevitable adulthood. Bradbury's mature but fresh return to his beloved early writing conveys a depth of feeling. Look for a Q&A with Bradbury in the Aug. 21 issue. (Oct .)[Page 27]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.