BOOK REVIEW: Summer of '79 by Darren Sapp

“You never forget the friends you grew up with. —Unknown”

My love for Stranger Things led me to Darren Sapp's Summer of '79, and I can honestly say that I am not mad about it. This was the perfect book to delve into during 4th of July weekend, when the temps were high, and all I wanted to do was laze around, enjoying the simplicity of summer. This book was my bestie during that period, what with the presence of The Oz arcade, to morning stops at the library, and afternoons spent gabbing with the DQ Gang {more on them later}, or constructing a top secret clubhouse down Devil's Backbone. Summer of '79 embraced the charm and curiosity that couples with the innocence of childhood, and will quickly capture the heart of multiple generations of readers.

Thirteen-year-old Kevin Bishop and his buddies {Larry Woodard, Slade Littlejohn, and Rut and Wendy Rutledge} plan on spending their summer playing baseball, swimming, and constructing a fort deep in the woods that will give them reprieve from their parents. After all, in Mead Creek, Texas, a locale known for a Civil War skirmish, and the 1912 unsolved triple murder of the Claymore family, there is little else to do to keep oneself cool and occupied. Little did they know, they were about to awaken their sleepy town to a decades-old secret.

Devil's Backbone is legendary - known as the location where the Claymore murderer has roamed since that fateful day in 1912. No longer used by vehicles, it has become a long-forgotten road, overgrown with brush, with a single entity located along the way: the Claymore estate. Devil's Backbone also happens to be the simplest route to the fort that Kevin and his friends are building, so they begin navigating it daily. It is during these trips that Kevin sees movement at the Claymore estate: first a person at a window, then a light on. He's convinced it's the ghost of Dickie Claymore, the lone suriving Claymore in the massacre; but perhaps it isn't his ghost at all. Upon further investigation {and frequent trips to the local Dairy Queen to gab with a group of old-timers dubbed the DQ Gang who congregate daily to shoot the breeze}, Kevin, Larry, Slade, Rut, and Wendy learn that Dickie is still alive, and living in the old Claymore estate. As they begin spending more time with the reclusive Dickie, the friends resolve to find justice for his family. But in doing so, they will shake their quiet town to its core.

I liked this one. Did it contain groundbreaking detective work or paranormal entities? Not really. But the innocence, simplicity, and familiarity found within the pages hook you nonetheless. The concept of just waking up and hopping on your bike to seek adventure in town is something that Gen Z, or even Millenials haven't experienced for themselves; so seeing it through the eyes of these young characters is endearing. Also endearing is the DQ Gang, who represent MC's every bit as much as our five protagonists {and provide many a chuckle}. Fans of Stranger Things or The Sandlot will quickly find themselves drawn to the pages. The perfect nostalgic read for a summer day.

Star Rating: ****



Ivy's Closet said...

Sounds awesomely nostalgic! Thanks so much!

Caitlin'nMegan said...

Oh, those were the days. Love the idea of this one. Sounds charming and more!

ellie said...

Such a wonderful review to find. I will definitely be looking for this one! Awesome!

Ananka said...

Sounds good :-D

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