Saturday, April 20, 2013

Novel Review: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Genre: Adult Historical Contemporary/Literature
Rating (Out of 5): ~4.5
Publisher: HarperCollins (Avon)
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The hilarious and heart-warming story about a down-and-out kid who finds inspiration in his favourite baseball hero. In Brooklyn, 1940, a wisecracking, baseball loving twelve-year-old boy, Joey Margolis, is in desperate need of a hero. His rich father has recently divorced his mother, leaving her all but penniless, and she is forced to move herself and her son to an Italian dominated part of Brooklyn, where he's the only Jew in the area. Constant abuse from other boys in the neighbourhood prompts Joey to send letters to Charlie Banks, an up-and-coming star with the New York Giants, asking for a home run so he can tell everyone that it was for him. Joey uses every trick in the book to get what he wants and the friendship that comes out of their simple correspondence will change them both forever.

This improbable friendship is woven together through letters, postcards, notes, telegrams, newspaper clippings, report cards and ticket stubs, and includes a colourful cast of supporting characters.

o The joys and sorrows growing up will always have an audience and this novel sheds light on all the complexity of those difficult times, with humour and joy.

Something Special:
That I love:

  • Everything. I tried finding a specific quote, a specific something to say about this book, but I just loved everything. It was all just so good and I can't choose a specific thing. I just loved it all.


First of all, I love Steve Kluger. He only has, I believe, four novels out, and I’ve only read one other, but I love that one (even more than this one), and that’s enough for me. It took me forever to get to this book, but it was fantastic. I have another book of his, and I don’t doubt that it will also be very good.
I don’t think I want to spoil anything from this book, and my main message is: “Go read this. Right now. It’s amazing.” But I do want to talk about it a little, so…
This is set in the 1940’s, in America, during WWII, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President. It’s told in letters and recorded dialogue and grades and all other formats of not straight-up narrative voice (aside from the prologue and epilogue). Kluger does this with all of his novels, I believe, and he does it amazingly well. He knows his characters, and so it’s easy to get a good sense of who they are.
This book is sweet and funny (very funny) and witty and sad. Joey, a kid growing up in Brooklyn, has a big mouth, never stops talking, can come up with stories at the drop of a hat (usually fake, but not always); he sends letters and gets responses from the President and his assistant, and then starts harassing Charlie Banks, a famous baseball player, via letters. Charlie, at first, tries to get the annoying kid to leave him alone, but quickly ends up being a stand-in father to him. They’re the main characters, but there’s also Charlie’s girlfriend Hazel, who is awesome, and Joey’s Japanese best friend Craig. Then there’s Joey’s mother and aunt and absentee father. Those are the main characters, but there’s also mention of Joey’s teachers, and Charlie’s friends. And they all have very distinct personalities and voices and you can’t help but love them all.
This book is simply amazing. The writing, the characters, the rapid and witty dialogue… Just go read this book, okay?

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