William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006
We go back to Green Town in this book, the sequel to Dandelion Wine, and even though more than 50 years have passed for the world, it is remains the same summer for Doug and Tom Spalding.
• Douglas ‘Doug’ Spalding, thirteen year old boy who shoots a cap pistol at an old man, whereby the old man suddenly drops dead;
• Tom Spalding, Doug’s younger brother, and his cohort
• Mr. Calvin C. Quartermain, a town elder who witnesses the “assassination” and in an effort to get the “assassin” (Doug) he jumps off the porch running and promptly breaks his leg on Doug’s bike. After all that he declares was on the boys who did his friend in.
• Grandpa, to Doug and Tom; Grandpa is Doug’s conscious, reminding him gently of what is right and what is wrong.
• The Grand Army, Doug’s friends: Charlie, Bo, Willie, Pete, Sam, Henry, and Ralph.
• Mr. Bleak, friend and conscious to Mr. Quartermain, reminding him of what it was to be young once.
It is October as the book opens but summer refuses to leave. The continued warmth inspires warfare between the young boys and an old man of Green Town. In this close of summer, an old man comes to terms with his age and says goodbye to passion, while a young man’s passion awakens with an electrifying first kiss.
In his afterward, Ray Bradbury writes that this book was 50 years in the making and having read both Dandelion Wine and this book fairly close together I can see a difference in his writing. The beautiful lyric prose is still present but in the older book there is more urgency, more earnestness than in the later book. Dandelion Wine takes your breath away with its sense of youth and fleeting time, whereas in Farewell Summer, the pace is slower and more serious. There are references made to the Civil War (even the sections are named after some of the battles) and if you’re not familiar with that war (I’m not) then the inferences are lost. Also, the plot line is not readily available. It took me several chapters to figure out what was going on and that underlying confusion remained throughout the book. Whether that was by design or by the author’s age/maturity of writing or some other unknown factor to me I don’t know. The upshot of it is I didn’t love this book as much as some of his other books. Regardless, I still give it a higher rating!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for Mr. Bradbury’s magical prose
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2015; category: Read an Award Winner. This book won the National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.