Puffin Teenage Fiction
fp September 1999
from the book...
In the summer of his first paper route, as he walks the tenement canyons of his hometown, Eugene begins his journey of self-awareness. It is a summer of Sahara afternoons, of lingering evenings, full of questions and mysteries. It is the summer of his first love, of expeditions with his boisterous cousins, of exciting encounters with friends and bitter ones with enemies. It is also the summer of tragedy for his favourite uncle. But it is most especially the summer of the airplane and the bond it creates between Eugene and the distant, enigmatic father he adores.
In verse of intense lyricism and haunting beauty, Robert Cormier conjures up the sights, smells, sounds and emotions of a summer long ago. His touching, tender chronicle of a vanished world celebrates a son's relationship with his father and human connections that remain timeless despite a constantly changing landscape.
If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A
This exceptional book, written in verse, is a glimpse into the summer of the author's twelfth birthday. Forget any notations that verse must contain some rhyme; this form of storytelling combines the power of poetry with the free flow of narrative. The result is a simple but beautifully written chronicle with just the right choice of words and, it seems, not one word too few or too many.
With each verse (or chapter) Robert Cormier takes us back to a different event of that long ago summer, to experience his world as it was then. It was a summer of growing up, of a first paper route and first love, of friends and enemies, of a father and son. Throughout all this, on almost any given page you will find words to make you stop and think, such as this on the suicide of his uncle:
I did not cry.
My eyes burned
but tears would not come
to melt the frozen wasteland
in my chest
If you are already a Cormier fan, the Frenchtown Summer is a must. If you haven't yet read any of Cormier's novels then you've been missing something outstanding in young adult literature. This book would be a great beginning to the Cormier experience - you won't be sorry. Highly recommended.
Irene, Canberra, Australia
Frenchtown Summer is a brief but well written verse novel by Robert Cormier. The novel follows the experiences of Eugene over the summer where he encounters bullies, an attempted suicide, and the death of an uncle that he was deeply grieved by. Beyond all this however, is Eugene’s father, whose character seems to haunt the story, hovering just out of Eugene’s reach. That is, until the orange airplane. While wandering through the city, Eugene spies an orange biplane and rushes home to tell someone. No one believes him, except his father who says he saw it too. This is Eugene’s first emotional contact with his father in the story. Father and son are bought together by a phantom airplane.
With verse novels being a relatively new experience for myself, I had been skeptical about them. However, I discovered this genre to be quite enjoyable and Frenchtown Summer is no exception. While this book is short and relatively easy to understand, it is by no means a children’s book. It has an interesting plot, and I found that once I had started the story, I was reluctant to put the book down. People aged early to mid teens would generally get the most enjoyment out of this book. Frenchtown Summer is a highly recommended read, pick it up and see for yourself.
Aaron, Year 10, Canberra, Australia