Thursday, September 4, 2014

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

Although I don't read much in the way of science fiction, I am a huge fan of Ray Bradbury's fiction, especially the books that comprise his Green Town Trilogy. The Green Town in the Trilogy is based on Bradbury's own hometown of Waukegan, Illinois.

I had some unfinished business with Bradbury. A couple of years ago, I read Dandelion Wine (1957) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). The third book of the Green Town Trilogy is Farewell Summer (2006), which has the distinction of being Bradbury's last novel. I had a chance to read Farewell Summer recently, and it was a great book.

Farewell Summer continues the story of thirteen-year-old Doug Adams and his brother, Tom, whom we meet in Dandelion Wine. It is the end of an Indian summer in 1929, and Doug doesn't want the summer to end. What he wants is to find a way to stop time so that nothing will change.

Doug, Tom, and their friends declare a war of sorts. This war is against the older gentlemen of the town, especially the head of the school board, the irascible Calvin C. Quartermain. The boys take drastic steps involving the town clock.

Doug lives around the corner from his grandparents. His grandfather is the sage of the story. He guides Doug in a loving and wise way without saying too much but just enough so that Doug makes decisions about how to right the wrongs that the boys commit through their pranks in the course of their war.

The Civil War is a theme of the book, and Farewell Summer is divided into three parts, each named after Civil War battles. What is at the heart of the book, though, are the themes of youth, death, coming of age and friendship.

Bradbury is adept at telling a good story, and he relies on those universal kinds of truths we learn as we grow up. He also throws in a bit of nostalgia, making Green Town the kind of place anyone would want to visit.

Each book of the trilogy is a bit different. If you haven't read Dandelion Wine or Something Wicked This Way Comes, you could still enjoy Farewell Summer on its own. It's a quick read with Bradbury's brand of effective imagery and dialogue. I highly recommend the book.

Have you read Farewell Summer or any other works by Ray Bradbury?

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