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Frenchtown Summer [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert Cormier , Dan Krovatin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 12 2001
Eugene is remembering the summer of 1938 in Frenchtown, a time when he began to wonder “what I was doing here on the planet Earth.” Here in vibrant, exquisite detail are his lovely mother, his aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, and especially his beloved, enigmatic father. Here, too, is the world of a mill town: the boys swimming in a brook that is red or purple or green, depending on the dyes dumped that day by the comb shop; the visit of the ice man; and the boys’ trips to the cemetery or the forbidden railroad tracks. And here also is a darker world–the mystery of a girl murdered years before. Robert Cormier’s touching, funny, melancholy chronicle of a vanished world celebrates a son’s connection to his father and human relationships that are timeless.

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Product Description

From Amazon

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 the Hardcover edition.

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 the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
That summer in Frenchtown in the days when I knew my name but did not know who I was, we lived on the second floor of the three-decker on Fourth Street. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Frenchtown Summer July 15 2003
By Janna
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Frenchtown Summer is a book written in verse form. It is written from the point of view of Eugene, a 12-year-old, and tells the story of his summer living in Frenchtown, hence the title.
I was disappointed in this book. When I first saw it, I thought since it was short it would be very easy to read. This book was 113 pages long, but it took me 4 days to read it, which is sad since usually I finish books in this format in a day.
This book has no plot. All it is is this kid telling about different things that happened in his summer. The only thing close to a plot is him feeling separated from his family, especially his father, and then at the end he finally feels close to him. But that is just a minor part of the story, the rest of it is just descriptions of random things. The first few chapters aren't too boring or anything. They set the stage and setting for what seems like a good story. But then the rest of the chapters pretty much just describe random things. All of those random chapters are tied together slightly, but not enough to make it a good story.
If you are looking for an action-packed story, find another book. Even if you are looking for a book that describes a 12-year-old's summer, there are better books out there. If you are looking for a good book of poems that tells a good story, tying in the random chapters really well, there are also better books out there. Try Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse or What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones. If you are looking for a book that you can finish fast and read easily, don't be misled, this isn't one of them. This book just doesn't have that element that good books have that keep you wanting to read more. Sure, it's not the most boring book I've read, but it's sure one of them.
The way the verses are written isn't bad. They are actually written pretty well. This is a talented author, but this book isn't one of his best.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Swafford . Bak Middle School of the Arts . May 19 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Magnificent sights, sounds, smells, and emotions; all intertwined into one book, written in verse. A young male, one extremely eminent summer. Many different memories, some more outstanding than others.

Eugene, pushing his way through a summer in the 1930's in the book Frenchtown Summer by Robert Cormier.

A summer of new experiences: his first love, interesting conversations with friends, arguments with fiends, dealing with death, and the airplane, being the most outstanding. Throughout the story, Eugene complains of how he feels "like a ghost on Mechanic Street, transparent as rain..." especially to his father, who rarely paid attention to him. The airplane represents the stretch between him and his father contracting.

"First, a wink of color, orange, in the corner of my eyes, at the far end of an alley between two three-deckers." Eugene finally, vividly, describes (like the rest of the chapters) the airplane. "...I tossed my paper bag to the sidewalk and followed the flash of orange to a backyard where I saw, unbelievably, and airplane, orange, yes, with lightning streaks of white on the fuselage..." Eugene thinks that the airplane has landed in a back yard of someone in Frenchtown, but no one believes him. His father then mentions it, and Eugene is enthused by his father seeing it as well.

If looking from above into someone else's life from a different time period than today, not to mention the wonderful details of everything, from Eugene's new glasses, to his 'silent uncle' interests you then I would suggest Frenchtown Summer to you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frenchtown Summer April 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I decided to read this book for a young adult literature class and was quite pleased to read a unique piece of work from Robert Cormier. In comparison to other stories I have read, The Chocolate War and Heroes, Frenchtown Summer is not tell a dark story, but is intricately shadowed with secrets and tragedy.
The story follows a young 12-year old boy named Eugene during the summer of his first paper route. Eugene spends the summer in search of his identity (a common theme among many teens) and finds him self in need of approval from his father. Eugene also discovers a desire for adventure and through this learns deep secrets about his family.
Although this book was a quick read, it should be read several times as it written in poetic verse. The pages are open and allow for the imagination to visualize the story as it unfolds. I particularly enjoyed this story because Eugene reminded me somewhat of myself at that age. Frenchtown Summer was defiantly one of Robert's most unique stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Analyzing "Frenchtown Summer" Feb. 28 2000
By A Customer
"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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More Plot, story and poetry than other free verse novels
FRENCHTOWN SUMMER is brilliant. Where other free verse novels
seem to be words thrown together in quick, uneven fashion,
this one (like OUT OF THE DUST and JUDY... Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Frenchtown Summer
This book was chosin in a book club at my school as the next book to read. I thought when I first saw it that it was small so it would probably be pretty boring, but easy to read. Read more
Published on May 20 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
My teacher read this book to our class and I thought it was beautifully written. He is a great poet and is a genius. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry that tells a story
Robert Cormier is an excellent writer. My co-worker didn't like this book, but when I read it I was impressed by how beautifully he told this story in poetic verse. Read more
Published on June 12 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Analyzing "Frenchtown Summer"
"That summer in Frenchtown in the days when I knew my name...," says Eugene, as he describes his somewhat odd and eventful summer. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Analyzing "Frenchtown Summer"
"That summer in Frenchtown in the days when I knew my name...," says Eugene, as he describes his somewhat odd and eventful summer. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry in motion
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, haunting and lyrical
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 1999
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