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Frenchtown Summer

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0440228547
ISBN-10: 0440228549
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert Cormier, much-lauded author of fiction for teens, pulls a switch on his readers with this memoir in blank verse, and proves to be an equally dazzling success as a poet. The story takes place in the streets, alleys, and tenements of the French-Canadian district of Monument called Frenchtown, familiar to Cormier fans from Fade, Heroes, and Tunes for Bears to Dance To. A bookish young boy, lonely in his big family, spends his thirteenth summer watching, learning, fearing, wondering--"in the days when I knew my name, but did not know who I was." He yearns for a sign of love from his enigmatic, silent father, and hides a terrible secret about his beloved uncle and the girl whose broken body was found in the woods long ago. This is vintage Cormier--he has distilled the most powerful themes and images of his previous books into one intensely beautiful and deceptively small work. Every poem is capable of standing alone, yet each additional chapter adds insights and events to carry the story forward. The voice is natural and easy, recognizable from his earlier novels but with heightened emotional impact. Poetry-loving teens will take this book to heart, along with other verse novels like Stop Pretending, by Sonya Sones; Foreign Exchange, by Mel Glenn; and Karen Hesse's Newbery Award-winning Out of the Dust. (Ages 10 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

More wistful but equally as haunting as Cormier's usual fare, this novel in verse shapes an impressionistic portrait of a lonely, keenly observant boy living in post-WWI Frenchtown (also the setting for the novel Fade). Twelve-year-old Eugene finds his father enigmatic and distant: "My father was a silhouette,/ as if obscured/ by a light shining behind him./ He was closer to me waving from the street/ than nearby in the tenement/ or walking beside me." While hoping for some sign of paternal love or approval, Eugene quietly and contemplatively penetrates the secrets of Frenchtown. He watches as Mrs. Cartin contemplates taking a leap from the third-floor, stands by as a one-time friend becomes an outcast after a bout with St. Vitus' dance and connects his favorite uncle to an unsolved murder case. Every observation implies mystery and hidden dramas; while the short verse chapters seem less plot-driven than Cormier fans may expect, they subtly convey the shadows in Frenchtown and the action those shadows conceal. Feeling "as transparent as rain," Eugene is a ghostly presence here, taking readers back in time and slowly mesmerizing them with his memories of coming of age. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (June 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440228549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440228547
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,789,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was a quick read -- less than half an hour. But one read is not enough -- I had to read it again and again, four times in fact, and I'm satisfied -- for the moment. Some of the lines in the poems are enchanting ("when I knew my name/but did not know who I was." "and knew bliss/in a sliver/of ice), and you must read them again. They flow, fluid, like a river, the Moosock River which ran red and green and purple depending on the dyes the factories were using that day... It's a lovely nostalgic book, showing a time I'll never experience, and yet there are some dark undertones too: Marielle LaMoyne, found strangled by a necktie years before Eugene was born...the near-suicide of one of Eugene's neighbors and the actual suicide of a relative... Naturally, of course, you can't have a Robert Cormier book without them. Tis lovely. Go away if you haven't read the book and buy it, NOW!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a departure for author Robert Cormier who has always been a favorite of mine because of his tight, twisting plots and his unflinching look at life. But Cormier's first novel written in verse is as marvelous as anything he has ever written and is truly a book to treasure.
I usually end up reading parts of Cormier's novels quickly in order to find out what happens next. But this is a book which makes the reader want to savor every word. He is a master at subtlty and understatement, using one or two words to convey so much meaning.
The relationship between Eugene and his mother, the glimpses into the lives of his neighbors, the secret of tragedy which surrounds his uncle...every one of the elements of this book with intrigue and move the reader.
Some books are great for a quick read and then either sit on a shelf gathering dust or are promptly returned to the library and forgotten. Not Frenchtown Summer. You will want to return to the passages again and again. It would also be a perfect gift for just about anyone and definitely a book to treasure.
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By A Customer on February 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"That summer in Frenchtown in the days when I knew my name...," says Eugene, as he describes his somewhat odd and eventful summer. He speaks of his love for his mother, who fills the room with delightful smells, as she shows her true love for him. He speaks of how he does not understand his father, who is employed at the Monument Comb Shop. Eugene would visit him, delivering his lunch, reaching out for his love and attention, however he did not truly receive any in return (except for a nod of thanks and a gesture for him to leave). He tells of his pépère (French for grandfather) and his uncles, mentioning the one who was quite mysterious in his ways, secluding himself from society, away from his family. He describes his favorite uncle Med, who would spend time with him and take him places (unfortunately, he dies during the summer). It is the summer of his twelfth birthday, his astonishing discovery of an airplane (this story takes place in the early 1920's, showing the rare appearance of an airplane), and a time where he got to know his father better, finally understanding him. As Eugene walks the tenement canyons, he discovers a love for adventure, roaming the city with his cousins, and experiencing the world with open eyes. Although he is surrounded by loving people, Eugene does not understand most of them. He learns more about his father, bringing him closer to him, while creating a true bond. I recommend this book for all age levels because it is good and expresses great meaning. It is quite interesting and portrays Eugene's great and eventful summer with much detail. It does not take long to read, however, it is still an enjoyable novel. It is written in verse of intense lyricism and is a book to be read and cherished by all.
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By A Customer on February 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"That summer in Frenchtown in the days when I knew my name...," says Eugene, as he describes his somewhat odd and eventful summer. He speaks of his love for his mother, who fills the room with delightful smells, as she shows her true love for him. He speaks of how he does not understand his father, who is employed at the Monument Comb Shop. Eugene would visit him, delivering his lunch, reaching out for his love and attention, however he did not truly receive any in return (except for a nod of thanks and a gesture for him to leave). He tells of his pépère (French for grandfather) and his uncles, mentioning the one who was quite mysterious in his ways, secluding himself from society, away from his family. He describes his favorite uncle Med, who would spend time with him and take him places (unfortunately, he dies during the summer). It is the summer of his twelfth birthday, his astonishing discovery of an airplane (this story takes place in the early 1920's, showing the rare appearance of an airplane), and a time where he got to know his father better, finally understanding him. As Eugene walks the tenement canyons, he discovers a love for adventure, roaming the city with his cousins, and experiencing the world with open eyes. Although he is surrounded by loving people, Eugene does not understand most of them. He learns more about his father, bringing him closer to him, while creating a true bond. I recommend this book for all age levels because it is good and expresses great meaning. It is quite interesting and portrays Eugene's great and eventful summer with much detail. It does not take long to read, however, it is still an enjoyable novel. It is written in verse of intense lyricism and is a book to be read and cherished by all.
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