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Please Don't Come Back from the Moon Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151011354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151011353
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"When I was sixteen, my father went to the moon." Thus begins this debut novel about the mysterious disappearance of the men from a working-class suburb of Detroit. They go gradually, one by one, leaving for parts unknown—though more than one mentions the rocky orb up above. Michael Smolij's father is one of the last to vanish; once he's gone, Michael's musician mother plays "Norwegian Wood" on her violin, then takes two jobs to make ends meet. Michael, like all the boys in the neighborhood, has to grow up fast, working at the mall while taking community college courses. When Michael's mother remarries and moves away, leaving him the family house, Michael lands a job as a writer at a local radio station and starts dating a single mother with a five-year-old son, as if in an attempt to singlehandedly forge a new family for himself. The process of settling down, however, awakens a strange restlessness in him. Magic serves more as an emotional undercurrent than a mystery in this odd novel, part fable and part gritty realist chronicle. As Bakopoulos writes in an author's note, the book is a kind of elegy for his father's generation of downtrodden working-class men, but their disappointments are tempered by the modest hopes and ambitions of their sons in this gentle and moving tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The term “heartbreaking” appears frequently in reviews of this debut novel, whose title is derived from a Charles Mingus jazz composition. With its undercurrent of magic and social satire, Michael’s coming-of-age story struck a strong chord with most critics. The main character is, at times, annoyingly indecisive, but the 12 years of his life presented in this compelling story ring true. Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon should be read as a tribute to the past generation of working-class American men.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

Dean Bakopoulos is the author of PLEASE DON'T COME BACK FROM THE MOON and MY AMERICAN UNHAPPINESS, both published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Customer Reviews

I kept wanting to read more - I very much look forward to his next book!
J. E. Pope
Like any good character, its changes over the course of the story significantly impact and influence the other (flesh-and-blood) characters.
J. Peterson
His writing merges great storytelling, elements of historical fiction and magic realism.
Dorie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As the economy worsens in Michigan, sixteen year-old Michael Smolij watches as father after father leaves town, the men unable to face their families with no jobs, dignity evaporating with every passing day. One by one, fathers spend directionless days in the local tavern before quietly disappearing forever. So many men leave the blue-collar neighborhood outside Detroit that everyone points to the disappeared as having "gone to the moon", wives left to carry the burdens of children and part time jobs, exhausted physically and emotionally by the dual role of mother and father.

Ultimately the loss of their fathers breeds a twisted violence in the hearts of the sons left behind. With the abdication of the men, the boys are forced to become men prematurely and put away their childhoods; thus is born a smothering anger and an incalculable sadness that resides deep in their hearts.

As Michael gets older, he tries to look out for his younger brother, Kolya, but acting tough has set Michael and his cousin Nick apart from kids with fathers, incipient "bad boys", distorting both Michael and Nick's views of the world and what it has to offer to fatherless sons. Drifting into a cursory education, Michael's curiosity is partially fueled by the young women in his life, who are attracted to the brooding sensitivity of the unhappy young man.

This novel lays bare the broken hearts of desolate young men. Bakopoulos is unstintingly honest, unabashedly free with the emotional territory of abandonment, allowing a poignant view of a loss that is permanent, a tattoo on the psyche. Always they think of their fathers, remembering, wondering how they might have changed, if they are happy on the moon, if they have forgotten their sons.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Banslaben on January 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book grabs the reader's attention with a powerful first chapter and then slides into a captivating rhythm that carries you through to the end. The story reveals a working class life that unfolds into what we realize is *our* reality, no matter what our social class, where we live, or how solid our family structure. We follow the life of the main character, Michael, a boy whose life is displaced when his father (and in fact all the men in town) leaves.

We learn about the hardship of a post-industrial, service based economy, where passions and dreams disappear in the haze of obligation, bills, and the comfort of the social networks, spaces, and places we consider "home". Mr. Bakopoulos gently, and brilliantly, conveys his ideas through his characters while commenting on the plight of men and society in a post-industrial economy, without being overtly political.

This book is thoughtful, well written, funny in parts and sad - you know the sad where you get a choking pit in your throat when you read - in others. Wow. Buy this book.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader on January 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The crumbling of America's manufacturing sector is more than just a segment on the nightly business report as Dean Bakopolus records in this beautifully written and moving first novel. Narrator Michael Smolij's family is part of a close-knit blue collar Detroit suburb, where nearly all the fathers work in local factories. As these jobs vanish through downsizing and outsourcing, so do the dads also begin to disappear. One leaves a note: "Gone to the moon." The parish priest joins the exodus. The local bar starts serving the fourteen-year-olds who've had to step into their fathers' shoes. Mothers start working two or three jobs. Instead of growing into the good-paying factory positions their fathers' held, the kids take the only jobs available; working at the mall for $6 an hour.

Michael's family is a little better educated than some of the neighbors and he aspires to college, taking community college classes while working in the mall bookstore. His cousin and best friend move into their twenties working at mall food court jobs meant for high school kids, trying their hands at any kind of entrepreneurial enterprise that will bring in a little money. They forge new families, but as they struggle to realize a slice of the American dream they always expected to be theirs, the sons of the vanished fathers are overcome by a strange restlessness, and Michael fears that they, too, will abandon their families, leaving their own children with even less to hope for than they had.

Bakopolus infuses a touch of magic into the grit of the story with excellent effect. Where did the fathers go? No amount of detective work turns up any of them. Realizing that there was no dignified place for them in the post-industrial economy, perhaps they really did go to the moon. This is an auspicious debut from a writer who has a great deal to say and the skill to tell it well. I look forward to his next novel.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Peterson on January 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When Michael Smolij is 16, his father (and all the other men in his town) begin to disappear, one by one. The only clue about where they might have gone is a single note one of the men leaves, literally on his way out the door: "I'm going to the moon." Although I was captivated by the opening chapter, I was worried about where I thought the story was headed -- I figured I was reading "The Mystery of the Missing Lunar Fathers," and I had a hard time seeing how these fragile magical and metaphorical elements could support the weight of a 300-page novel. Happily, I was wrong; almost as soon as he establishes this "mystery," the author does something unexpected and (to me) borderline brilliant: He pretty much leaves it alone. The moon and the missing men are referenced only occasionally (but never forgotten) through the bulk of the novel, and yet they hang over and influence the entire narrative, much like (to clumsily appropriate the metaphor) the moon itself. Bakopoulos never beats you over the head with the story's mystical aspects, but never quite lets you forget them, either (nor should you, since they play an important role in the book's moving and equally ambiguous conclusion). This frees Bakopoulos to make this Michael's story, not his father's. The reader comes to know Michael as fundamentally thoughtful and decent, although understandably damaged by his father's seemingly incomprehensible abandonment. The story achieves its greatest poignency when Michael and his friends have children of their own, and suddenly find themselves facing many of the same issues and temptations that presumably lured their own fathers away many years before.Read more ›
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