Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Steve Kluger - Last Days of Summer

A charming, touching and funny novel of the Forties in which a young boy finds an unusual -- and unwilling -- role model.In 1940, 12-year-old Joey Margolis decides to focus his attention on one person: Charlie Banks, the talented young third baseman for the New York Giants. Joey is a wiseguy kid, and pretends to be dying so Charlie will come and visit him. At first the player wants nothing to do with the kid, who's a liar and a fake, but after time he's tricked, cajoled and charmed into being what he never wanted to be: a role model for another human being who needs him. 

Comment: I got this book last year because I've read something else by the author and I liked it. I was curious to read more by the author and the blurb to this book seemed something I'd enjoy as well. This month, I finally started it and it was worth the wait fr sure.

In this book we meet Joey Margolis, a 12 year old Jewish boy who's constantly bullied and beaten at school. In an attempt to make his bullies leave him alone he makes up a friendship with New York Giants baseball player Charlie Banks. To do so, Joey writes Charlie pretending to be sick but he does is to often, Charlie catches on and after some letter exchanging, they no longer deny they like each other and become friends. But life goes on and while Charlie helps Joey with key moments of his young life, can a friendship survive it all?

This was a great story, not perfect, often mentioned things I'm not familiar with - which can be a plus for veracity reasons but not so much for all reader's understanding - but overall, the focus is definitely the friendship young Joey and adult Charlie develop. It starts very reluctantly but with time we get to realize Joey sees in Charlie someone who can help him after his own father dismisses him and doesn't care, and Charlie becomes a sort of friend/father figure and everyone gets richer because of the group of people they interact with and know.

I liked this story, especially the graphic text. The novel is told from notes, reports, letters the character exchange, school notes and other means of written communication. The action is set in the 1940s, therefore not as easy as it would be nowadays to keep in touch. But this added interest and an unique eye because we, the reader, have to infer things, we have to read between the lines about the character's motives and personality. Sure, they often discuss personal choices and actions and that helps, but I liked this was not a boring narrative. It was fun to read all the different notes and that actually helped to make the reading easier and faster.

It doesn't mean, however, that this was just laughs. In fact, part of the story was quite heartbreaking because with every moment there's a lesson, there's the notion time is gong away... it's too sad to think what means so much now can become something else in the future... But still, for the most part, this was amazing and the learning both Charlie and Joey do because their lives connected is so much more important.

The author has talent and, so far, his work has been positive to me. I have curiosity in his other books but this one was very emotional in a way I'd not think so when one of the main characters is a kid.
But what truly makes this amazing is all the secondary details we get to follow now that History has happened and we can match what the characters go through with the reality. It jus gives a certain sturdiness to all the elements presented.
I thought this was good and recommend it.
It's not a perfect book, because of the way things are told, some information doesn't seem to be as important or well explained/done but it's things one can overlook.
This is mostly good and easy to read!
Grade: 8/10

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