Reviews for Gemini Summer
Booklist Reviews 2006 December #2
Eight-year-old Danny spends the summer of 1964 avoiding the bully down the street, playing with his big brother, Beau, and begging his parents for a dog. In the meantime, Beau obsesses about becoming an astronaut, his mother dreams of becoming a rich author, and his father, a World War II vet who anticipates that the Vietnam War will "bring about the end of everything, digs a hole in the lawn to make a shelter for his family. Come spring, Beau falls to his death while playing around the hole, and the family shatters and then slowly rebuilds. When a stray dog adopts him, Danny is convinced that Beau has returned as a dog, and he sets off for Cape Canaveral to realize Beau's dream of seeing the Gemini missions. This sensitively told story is full of small, descriptive details that breathe life into the people and the setting, and the family's grief at Beau's death is immediate and profound. Danny's perspective is spot-on for his age, making him a realistic focal point. The later half of the novel, during which Danny meets Gus Grissom and flies in a T-38, is less plausible, but serves as wish fulfillment for readers who would also love to rocket through the sky. ((Reviewed December 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
In 1965, nine-year-old Danny gets through the trauma of his older brother Beau's death, but his loss is so acute that he comes to believe a stray dog is his brother. Lawrence's straightforward yet metaphoric language convinces us that perhaps the dog [cf2]is[cf1] Beau, even as Lawrence portrays Danny's grieving parents' despair that they are losing a second son to delusions. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #6
In 1965, nine-year-old Danny Rivers survives the traumatic death of his beloved older brother Beau, but his loss is so acute that he comes to believe that the stray dog he names Rocket (to honor his brother's passion for space travel) is really his brother. Lawrence's straightforward yet metaphoric language convinces the reader that perhaps the dog is Beau, even as Lawrence portrays Danny's grieving parents' further despair that they are losing a second son to his delusions. Lawrence forsakes his iconic high seas tales for one more airborne: astronaut Gus Grissom, Beau's hero, makes a thrilling appearance, taking Danny and Rocket, who have run away to Cape Canaveral, back home in a T-38 fighter plane. Earthbound pictures complement resonant images of flying and floating: Danny and Beau's father becomes obsessed with building a bunker for his family in their front yard. This well-wrought story, literally of heaven and earth, is both moving and humorous, and has us thinking, like Danny, that if "a boy could die and live again as a dog, it would be a swell old world after all." Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 October #1
Two intertwined story threads create the fabric of this tale set in the mid-'60s, with the Vietnam War building up and Cape Canaveral offering astronauts as heroes for children in need of them. A little boy and his dog are arrested on their way to the Cape, and a family known as "the hillbillies of Hog's Hollow" lives out their dreams. Flo River sees herself as a latter-day Scarlett O'Hara and is writing a saga of the Old South. Older son Beau dreams of being an astronaut, and brother Danny only wants a dog. Old Man River builds a fallout shelter to protect his family in case the Vietnam War brings the end of everything, but doesn't realize that, instead, he is creating the scene of a great tragedy that will alter their lives. Lively prose, quirky characters and strong dialogue animate this moving story of a family and a boy, and an astronaut who sees the whole world as a miracle, with "more to it all than any one person can ever understand." (afterword, acknowledgments) (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 September #1
Lawrence (Ghost Boy ) creates a poignant family drama that will pull the heartstrings of anyone who has looked up to an older sibling or has fallen in love with a dog. The story opens in the summer of 1964 in rural Hog's Hollow and focuses on young Danny River, who longs for a dog but isn't allowed to have one. The other members of Danny's family have dreams of their own. His mother wants to write a novel. His older brother Beau wants to become an astronaut. His father, convinced that the Vietnam conflict is going to escalate into nuclear war, obsessively digs a fallout shelter in their front yard. Soon tragedy strikes: Beau falls into the dugout and dies. Danny will not be consoled until he becomes convinced that a bedraggled stray dog that arrives at the Rivers' door is his brother brought back to life. Readers will empathize with the young hero as he unsuccessfully tries to persuade his parents and others that what he believes about the dog is true. The book's sharply delineated characters and dramatic tension (much of it emanating from the villainous Creepy and Dopey Colvig) will keep pages turning, and the love among family members will be strongly felt. If some events (as when Danny meets Gus Grissom and rides in the famous astronaut's plane) appear a bit strained, they pave the way for a gratifying conclusion. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) [Page 67]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 November
Gr 5-8 In the mid-1960s, Danny River and his family live on the periphery of Toronto, in out-of-the-way Hog's Hollow. The neighbors find the family somewhat odd: the father, Old Man River, cleans septic tanks for a living, while Mrs. River imagines herself a belle of the old South, and their older son, Beau, dreams of becoming an astronaut. As the Vietnam War looms larger, Old Man River remembers his World War II experiences and begins to dig a shelter in an effort to protect his family from the threat of missiles. The construction has disastrous consequences when the boys are playing around the site and Beau falls in. Lawrence's talent for creating captivating and rounded characters is fully realized from this point in the story as the Rivers struggle to come to terms with Beau's death. When a stray dog appears shortly after the tragedy, Danny refuses to become attached to it out of a misplaced guilt over his brother's death, but, over time, understands that loving Rocket does not lessen his love for his brother. The pace picks up nicely in the second half of the book when Danny and Rocket attempt to get to Cape Canaveral to realize Beau's dream. Adventure abounds, and the interesting detail that Lawrence weaves in about the Gemini Space Program and astronaut Gus Grissom will appeal to reluctant readers as well as more seasoned ones. This robust novel offers an affirming and hopeful look at a difficult subject. Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA [Page 140]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2006 December
Can a boy be reincarnated as a dog? Nine-year-old Danny River, who witnesses the death of Beau, his older brother, while they played, believes that Beau has returned as a scraggly white-and-black mutt that mysteriously wanders into town. He also cannot remember how Beau died. Beau, who wanted to be an astronaut, liked the name Rocket for a dog, and Danny so names the dog. Danny looks into Rocket's eyes and sees Beau. Rocket, as would Beau, is entranced by the televised Gemini space launches in the summer of 1964. He likes what Beau liked and seems to understand everything Danny says. When Rocket bites Dopey Colvig, a mentally slow boy who bullied the River brothers, Rocket is slated to be put to sleep. Escaping, he rendevouzes with Danny at "their" fort in the woods, and the duo heads toward Cape Kennedy to enlist the aid of Beau's idol, Gus Grissom, in saving Rocket's life The book is a story of parents losing a son; of a boy, his dog, and the depth of their bond; and of an older brother star-struck by space flight and the younger brother who idolizes him. Lawrence's descriptive language draws in the reader. Danny's adoration of his older brother and his desire for a dog are universal boyhood emotions found in this fun and scary adventure, which is both a sad story and a heartwarming tale. Who can doubt that Rocket is Beau reincarnated? This book will attract and hook middle school boys.-Ed Goldberg PLB $17.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90111-6. 4Q 4P M Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.