As a member of the so called Generation X, I grew up in the frenetically paced era of video games, pagers, cell phones, quick cut action movies and hyperactive storytelling within a remote control world. Reading Richard W. Dunne's "Summer at Sea Shell Harbor" therefore was for me like unplugging from the matrix and stepping outside for a long summer's walk in the sun. To put it simply, "Summer at Sea Shell Harbor" is a breath of fresh air.
Dunne's story is a classic coming-of-age tale set in the late 1950's and revolves around two teenage boys as they set out to make the most of one promising summer out on eastern Long Island. Richie and Mickey surely would have been best friends had they grown up together and in fact they do a great job making up for lost time here, despite (or perhaps because of) their very different backgrounds. Although Richie is the kid from the city (in this case well-to-do Brooklyn,) it is Mickey the streetwise small-town local that takes his more sheltered friend under his wing, not only showing him the ropes around the idyllic village of Sea Shell Harbor but teaching him some valuable life lessons as well.
As with many coming-of age novels, there are some familiar themes here: friendship, lost innocence, the promise of young love and all the hopefulness that comes with being on the verge of taking on the world. It is these very themes that Dunne handles so deftly and which make "Summer at Sea Shell Harbor" such a refreshing read. As anyone who's ever been seventeen can attest, that time in one's life is teeming with emotion and Dunne's novel succeeds in stirring those emotions once again, without ever feeling heavy-handed or trivial. The pacing and length of the book feel right and the story keeps the reader wanting to know more...I had a hard time putting this book down.
In today's go-go world of give it to me now and show me everything, it's nice to find a book that takes you back to an easier time and leaves something to the imagination. Be careful when you read it however, you may just find yourself longing for a time and place that is seemingly no longer available. As the saying goes, "those were the days." "Summer at Sea Shell Harbor" by Richard W. Dunne is a wonderful book for all ages, whether you're Generation X, Y or anywhere from A to Z.