The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War
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The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  13 reviews
For Americans who grew up in the 1930s, the phrase "before the war" calls up a distant time as remote from the way we live now as some foreign country. Those years of the Great Depression were lean ones for most Americans; jobs were scarce and nobody had any money. But all was not struggle and hardship; it was also a time of innocence, kindness, and generosity. It is this...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2003 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2003)
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This was an entertaining book. Not only is it a coming of age story of an American boy in the years before World War II, but it is also an example of a well-written reflection. Things were very different in those days. Kids were given a lot of freedom to roam but they were also expected to do chores.
My favorite part was when he and his brother were dropped off to work at a farm way out in the remote Minnesota countryside. They didn't even know the couple that they were spend an entire working an...more
Timothy Bazzett
I was hooked from line one of this book. Hynes' simple and direct style of writing quickly whisks you back 70-plus years and tells you -shows you - how it was. And it wasn't easy for Sam Hynes either, orphaned at an early age and moving from place to place, being farmed out and coping with a step-mother. But in spite of all this, you also get a sense of the fun of being a boy in the midwest during the depression. Kids don't always know when they're poor; they're too busy learning and experienci...more
Todd Smalley
This is the book I wish my grandfather had written. I picked it up after noting some biographical similarities the author shared with him: born nearly the same year (thus the depression loomed over their childhoods), childhood in Minneapolis (St Paul in my grandfather's case), mother died young, and finally off to fly in WWII. There is little plot; just vignettes of his childhood from his earliest memories to the moment he is off to war. Some are big moments, such as a car accident in high schoo...more
Russ Jarvis
I picked this book up because my Dad was born in 1927. He died in 1995 and I never learned much about his everyday life or the the people he knew. This is a midwestern book and Dad grew up in Michigan so I see a lot of cultural similarities. Compared to my own boyhood years (I'm 55 this year), life and times hadn't changed too much, except that I had a lot more stuff than he probably did.

The author knows how to take the reader down the streets of Minneapolis and the lanes of the country. His tre...more
If you live in Minnesota, grew up in Minnesota (Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota), if you are old enough to get senior discounts, "The Growing Seasons," might be made required reading. If you live somewhere else, "The Growing Seasons," is recommended reading. Samuel Hynes crafts tickling nostalgia, he recreates history from an enviable memory. He writes sparingly, beautifully. Just a wonderful volume.
Marianna Young
Jan 28, 2011 Marianna Young rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants an easy & fast read
Recommended to Marianna by: Found in a thrift store; liked cover!
It was a very comforting book, describing life in a time much less complex than our own. I could compare it to eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It became less comfortable when WWII arrived with Pearl Harbor forcing the US into the war, and also meant that some of the idyllic memories of the author were shattered by deaths of boyhood friends. SHynes has a nice writing style, very straightforward, easy to read.
Took me a long time to finish reading this, but because of the time it took me, I think I gained an increasingly better appreciation of Hynes' writing and voice. He very earnestly outlines what life was like before World War II in a modest Minnesota home, and the reader observes up close, almost in an anthropologic way, the most typical vestiges of an American coming-of-age story.
I read John Gregory Dunne's review of this book in 03 and determined then that I'd someday read it.

I agree with Dunne's evaluation: "This is a brilliant book."

I'll reread it again, I'm sure, someday.
I was a little surprised that the 30's didn't seem a whole lot different than the 80's. Being set in familiar areas of Minneapolis I think I connected with this one more than if it had been somewhere else.
David G.
Clear, solid, intelligent, very touching in an understated Midwest way. Went on to be a great scholar.
Hugh Mahoney
A superb memoir of a boy's life in the 30's. Brilliant use of metaphor appropriate to the tone of the work.
Bruce Rudin
Met the author at our monthly book group meeting at Ray Archezewiski's house
One of the best memoirs I've ever read.
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read excerpt in "Short Takes" 1 1 Feb 15, 2013 05:34AM  
Reporting World War II Vol. 1: American Journalism 1938-1944 (Library of America #77) The Soldiers' Tale: Bearing Witness to Modern War Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator Reporting World War II Vol. 2: American Journalism (Library of America #78) A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture

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