Don’t you just love it when it is October and it is still sunny and warm outside. The summer doesn’t want to leave us in the dark hands of autumn. It still spreads hope, smiles, and positivism with its dying rays. We pray and cry “Summer, don’t go away” and it rewards us with yet another wonderful day.
This is a story about a similar summer. A summer that doesn’t want to leave and give way to autumn, school, leaves, darkness, depression. This is a story about a small American town, where the young and the old are captured in a mock war under the burning sun. Farewell Summer is the long expected sequel of Bradbury’s bestseller Dandelion Wine. In the latter we met Douglas, his brother, his friends, and his family enjoying a wonderful summer, trying to capture all of the moments, so that they don’t fade away. However, as all good things, summer must also come to its end. Douglas doesn’t want to let this happen. He gathers his friends in a fight as old as the world itself – the young generation against the old generation. The boy is trying to destroy the town clock in order to stop time and let the summer go on forever. The ruthless battle opposes the strength and spirit of the young against the wisdom and experience of the old. There is no loser at the end; both sides realize they are not to fight time and they are to live in harmony, to understand, support, and learn from each other. Douglas and his friends cling to their childhood but eminently they start growing up. Douglas experiences his new-born sexuality, his first kiss, his first heart skips. The summer has to go but the good times for the growing ups are yet to come. And the old ones have nothing to do but remember the past, share their wisdom with the new generation, and leave a mark behind themselves.
Ray Bradbury is unsurpassed in his ability to combine magic with reality. His novels depict realistic events but from time to time the author gently inserts a little bit of fantasy. Both Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer are simple stories about the magic of childhood, the power of memories, and the relentless passing of time. Yet, these novels show us some truths about the relationships, love, friendship, and compassion, which seem strikingly obviously but yet somehow along the way we have forgotten them. It took 50 years for Bradbury to write the sequel of Dandelion Wine but the waiting was all worth it. Another amazing novel saturated with nostalgia but also with hope.
It is weird reading about a passing summer when I am about to experience my own. Probably the greatest summer is ahead of me. A summer of changes, a summer of writing, a summer of self-development, and maybe a summer of loneliness. Maybe it is best I experienced Farewell Summer now. I will know to capture every moment and to experience every sun ray. Because time waits around the corner and soon I will see the green green grass of home turn brown and yellow.