Like The Wonder Years or A Christmas Story, Tarkington's ability to shine a retrospective light on the painful awkwardness of childhood is masterful and entertaining.
Why I love it
Neil Young's hit 1970s song about love, loneliness and heartbreak lends its title to this wonderful coming-of-age novel. It's the perfect namesake for Ed Tarkington's story about all kinds of love, and learning that the things you think you understand when you are a child, may not have been what they seemed at the time.
1977: The narrator, an eight-year-old boy named Rocky, lives in a small Virginia town and and worships his teenage half brother, Paul. When Paul does something unforgivable and disappears, his abrupt departure wreaks havoc on the family.
1984: Rocky, now fifteen years old, is enjoying the perfect summer. But faces – and stories – from the past are about to change all that. And Rocky will learn that first love and familial love are more complicated than he had imagined.
Tarkington does a great job capturing Rocky in both stages of his life: as a naive boy reacting to the grown-up drama around him, and then as a teenager, with dreams and hopes and rampaging hormones. Like a Southern John Irving novel this book is both sweet and heartbreaking, most often when Rocky is getting himself into adult situations, like a fling with the neighbor's much-older daughter.
Like The Wonder Years or A Christmas Story, Tarkington's ability to shine a retrospective light on the painful awkwardness of childhood is masterful, and the story is entertaining and well-plotted, even when it takes a turn toward the more serious. Rocky might not always make the best decisions, but we're rooting for him regardless. Because that's what growing up is all about.
Member ratings (265)
New Brockton, AL
I love books that when you really look, there is a deeper meaning. That touch on true human emotions, Tarkington has spun a tale that will connect with everyone at some level.
Thought provoking, beautiful coming of age novel. I have now lent it to all my book loving friends. If you've ever dealt with lost love, lost relationships, it's a must read.
A lot of intersecting story lines that can be almost overwhelming but it only means the novel is even more enticing.
I did not expect to like this as much as I did. There are a lot of story lines going on at once yet somehow it works.
Bradford , PA
Great story, but had a hard time keeping me engaged. Some boring, slow spots in the book. But overall loved it!