- Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
- Published Date: 2006
- Author: Ray Bradbury
- Read By: Robert Fass
- ISBN: 0-7927-4519-1
- Length: 3 hours 19 minutes
Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury is the sequel, or maybe just the completion, of his classic, Dandelion Wine. Completed some 55 years after Dandelion Wine, this story takes place about a year after the end of that previous book’s summer. An early October Indian Summer gives Douglas and Tom and friends one last chance before it’s time to say “Farewell Summer”. I recently reviewed the original Dandelion Wine and the celebration of life and childhood in that book shines into this one, but here it is more the end of childhood…or preventing the end of childhood that is at hand. A group of boys approaching puberty conduct a ‘war’ against growing up and growing older. This war has various opponents from the old people playing chess in the park to the giant clock in the tower over town, but the main opponent seems to be old Mr. Quartermain.
Douglas, now 13 and nearly 14, his brother Tom, now 12, and the rest of their friends are determined NOT to grow up. They start a war with aging and with the aged residents of Green Town. In particular, Mr. Quartermain. The boys blame the old men who live ‘on the other side of the ravine’, across the gap of time, for controlling them and making them grow up, and are determine to put an end to it. They try different things to stop the aging: fasting, taking themselves in proxy from life’s chessboard, and even stopping the great clock that marks and moves the hands of time. Quartermain is the quintessential grumpy old man, and he has his own war with the silliness and energy of the youths.
Ray Bradbury always finds a way to make you think about things in a different way. This relatively short book covers a lot of ground in my head. It makes you think about what it means to be young and what it means to be old, and how trying not to grow old may lead to the oldest grumpiest unhappiest outcomes. Life goes on and there is not much we can do about it. You can fight against it and fight against those that represent time to you, but eventually, you grow up or you just grow old. The more you fight against time, the more frustrated you are likely to become. Acceptance and acknowledgement of youth and vitality and age and experience might just lead one to happiness and satisfaction.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the afterword where Bradbury explains how the book came to be. It was originally planned, more or less, as the ending to the original Dandelion Wine but that would have made the book too long, so he put off the ending for another 55 years. His reminiscences of his own “Green Town” help to make it a real place. His thoughts about the book and writing and letting the characters lead where they will are very interesting, especially for someone who tries to tell his own tales.
This book is not as wonderful as Dandelion Wine (read that first if you haven’t read it lately), but it is a good continuation and completion to the story. From a boy moving from pure unadulterated childhood to the beginnings of recognition about life to fighting against that recognition to maybe accepting the ever changing nature of life and moving forward to an even better life. Farewell Summer.
by Matt Truxaw