"Because growing old isn't all that bad. None of it is bad if you have one thing. If you have the one thing that makes it alright."
I picked this up at Half Price Books at the beginning of the summer after I noticed it on the staff recommendations shelf. The last time I did that at B&N, it ended badly. However, I figured (a) I can always trust Ray Bradbury and (b) I trust the people over at HPB over Tom and my local B&N. I wanted to save this book until the end of summer was nearing - for obvious reasons - and I'm happy I did. It turned out to be a beautifully written, unique meditation on time and aging.
During an Indian summer in the Midwest a group of boys organize a small civil war against the older adults in their community to "keep living" and resist growing old. Soon the boys realize it's not their elders who are the enemy; it's time itself. In an effort to stop time, the boys plan to destroy the clock at the heart of the city, convinced this will keep time at a standstill. What ensues is an understanding of life and time, aging and dying, and how our outlook of it makes all the difference.
The clock moved silently. And now he knew that it had never ticked. No one in the town had ever actually heard it counting to itself; they had only listened so hard that they had heard their own hearts and the time of their lives moving in their wrists and their hearts and their heads.Bradbury conveys the point of view of the young boys with accuracy and whimsy. It didn't feel contrived or overwrought, but unique and nostalgic. Farewell Summer examines our reluctance to grow up and let go of our childhood, regardless of the fact that we don't really have a choice. The novel also suggests that while it's meaningful to remember your past, it's important to understand the future holds just as much promise.
'It's all how you look at it,' said Tom. 'My gosh, think of all the things you haven't even started yet. There's a million ice cream cones up ahead and ten billion apple pies and hundreds of summer vacations. Billions of things waitin' to be bit or swallowed or jumped in.'This is why you can never go wrong with Bradbury. I enjoyed this novel to pieces. As it turns out, this book is part of a trilogy, which I didn't discover until I was 50 pages into the book and didn't want to stop. So I've got to track down Dandelion Wine (1957) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). Also, thank you to the HPB staff member who brought this book to my attention, and I'm sorry I didn't catch your name.
Publisher: Harper Voyager, 2006