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July, July

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  2,537 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
As he did with In the Lake of the Woods, National Book Award winner Tim O'Brien strikes at the emotional nerve center of our lives with this ambitious, compassionate, and terrifically compelling new novel that tells the remarkable story of the generation molded and defined by the 1960s. At the thirtieth anniversary of Minnesota's Darton Hall College class of 1969, ten old
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Larry Bassett
May 04, 2011 Larry Bassett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, fiction
I have hit the highs (five stars for The Things They Carried) and the lows (one star for Tomcat in Love) for Tim O’Brien. And ensemble cast (like the one that appears in this book) means the old TV show “thirtysomething” or the movie “The Big Chill” to me – very good things! So I have high hopes for this book but am prepared for the worst! What will it be, Tim?

This is another of the nostalgia about Vietnam books for me. How can that still be? There is even a section about a guy who goes to Canad
This book concerns the trials and tribulations of a handful of fifty-somethings stupid enough to attend their thritieth college class reunion.

There are the usual hook-ups, spats and broken hearts, and for those who believe O'Brien is capable of writing about nothing else, one bloody Vietnam flashback.

The story was interesting for a while, but my attention easily drifted elsewhere. The characters all seemed to use the same voice, and none of their stories were very compelling.

Sad to say, but I
Bessie James
Oct 12, 2012 Bessie James rated it it was amazing
This is, for certain, a difficult book. I usually knock off a book of this size in two days. This one took me four days. There are about a dozen fairly major characters in it, and as many people have commented, it is very difficult to keep all of the voices distinct.

Nonetheless, I eventually told myself to relax and not be so concerned with who was who (or who was fucking or not fucking who), and suddenly, the purpose of the book became clear to me. O'Brien is evoking a time in America that I ne
Barksdale Penick
Oct 19, 2011 Barksdale Penick rated it liked it
There are bits and pieces of enjoyable writing interspersed in not very interesting scenes from a college reunion (30th?) of the class of 1969, who went to a small liberal arts college in Minnesota where they protested the war and had boyfriends and girlfriends. I found the reunions scenes not credible, as I have been to reunions and as far as I could tell, everybody wasn't scheming over large amounts of vodka to sleep with someone they had pined for all these years. But there are some credible ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Natalye rated it really liked it
I absolutely love Tim O'Brien's writing. I have never been much of a fan of war movies or memoirs, but ever since my sophomore year English teacher taught a unit on war and we read "The Things They Carried" I have enjoyed his work, in spite of such an evident focus on Vietnam. Something about his language is so comfortable to read, and always has some sense of nostalgia, no matter how grand or minute. Additionally, he pays a great attention to character development and can juggle many plot lines ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Tim O'Brien is a storyteller and this book showcases his ability in a different way than Going After Cacciato or The Things They Carried. He follows a cohort, the class of '69 from Darton Hall (clearly a remake of his Alma Mater, Macalester). We are granted the unique perspective of knowing their past, present and everything in between; we watch them play Monday Morning Quarterback, lamenting their lives and the choices they've made and what they've become. For some, the reunion is a chance to m ...more
May 09, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: timobrien
I don't paticular find narritives that are based on people living in or had lived in the sixties entertaining. I am of the generation that was raised by the Great Defiers and I must say, they have done a spectacular job of bettering the world as they matured out of being idealistic narcotic lovers and into hedonistic materialists!

The one exception, beyond nonfictional civil rights narritives, I will read with full vigour is novels by Tim O'Brien. This an author who understand how to evoke mascul
Sep 20, 2014 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fiction
Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" is one of the best books ever written in my opinion.. Here his writing is top notch and even though I am only about 4 years older than the gang of characters in the book, I didn't care for any of them. Their 50-something angst, the death of the 60's idealism, the effects of the trauma of a war in a foreign jungle, is all portrayed in his exceptionally powerful prose, but I couldn't get connected or feel anything for them. What a sad lot they were!
The best
Feb 09, 2015 Logan rated it it was ok
This book felt like a sequel to the film "The Big Chill" with the characters having aged another twenty years. I often had the sensation that I was reading a screenplay instead of a novel. O'Brien uses a thirty year college reunion for the class of 1969 as a jumping off point to tell a series of vignettes about moments in the attendees' lives. O'Brien jumps back and forth from the reunion to the personal story of each character and there a number of them. He tells the story of at least ten indiv ...more
Robert Beardsley
Jun 11, 2012 Robert Beardsley rated it liked it
July, July tells the story of a 1969 college class reunion held in July 1999. The foreword warns of an ensemble cast of characters. This is true, in fact. There are 8 or 9 major female characters. And 3 or 4 major male characters. Take notes—especially for the women. Or as I did, you will get lost trying to figure out who did what to whom in 1969.

Warning: if you are not yet 53 years old, don't read this. All of these characters are flawed. In fact, dysfunctional. In keeping with O'Brien's previo
Debbi Mack
Oct 14, 2009 Debbi Mack rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
At first glance, JULY, JULY might appear to be little more than a rehash of the movie The Big Chill. From the start, you know the characters have gathered for a college reunion of the class of 1969, and one of them (a woman named Karen) has been murdered. The resemblance is uncanny. However, such a comparison would do the book a huge disservice.

Like The Big Chill, this book is an ensemble piece. None of the characters truly seem to dominate it, although the story starts off with Amy Robinson and
Sep 30, 2011 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: for-fun-fiction
While the overall quality of the writing was good, as one would expect from Tim O'Brien, the content was a little harder to swallow. The graduating class that he describes in this book has suffered all the harshness adulthood had to offer a generation of kids who believed they would be idealists forever. However, given that he usually writes about Vietnam and its veterans, anybody in the book who was not in Vietnam came across almost a little whiny. It's hard to sympathize with the plight of a n ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
It has been quite a stretch since I've read anything by Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried). I found July, July a great read and liked how he interwove the characters and handled the time-lines of each story. The book takes place in Minnesota on a July weekend in 2000 at the 30th college reunion for the class of 1969 (the faulty math is explained) and looks back on the lives disappointments, desperation, and continuing connections of a small circle of friends. It reminded me of why I don't go ...more
May 01, 2012 Allison rated it liked it
Recommends it for: O'Brien fans, Baby Boomer fiction fans
I am a huge Tim O'Brien fan (even the memory of some of his writing just tears me up) and finally got around to reading this one. Although it is an interesting concept and the characters are well defined and intriguing, I just didn't think this was his best. Naturally there is some breathtaking writing, particularly (and this is no surprise)about one of the characters' experiences in the Vietnam war and a really and truly beautiful chapter about the murder of one character that is really hauntin ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Carly rated it really liked it
This was a fun, easy read. It was reminiscent of one of O'brien's other books: The Things They Carried, with pieces of the Vietnam War wrapped into it.

This is the tale of a thirty (one) year college reunion, and focuses on a group of friends. The friends are all now in their fifties, and many are divorced, parents, cancer or other kinds of survivors. The characters in the story are not 100% good. Meaning, I don't necessarily want to be any of their friends, but they seem real. They are struggli
Dec 25, 2011 Jesse rated it really liked it
This book is a big departure, in my view, from Tim O'Brien's other works. In July, July, the Vietnam war takes a supporting role, not a starring one, as O'Brien paints a picture of a dissatisfied and disaffected generation - the young men and women who came of age in 1969.

The narrative follows the 30th reunion of a fictional college outside of the Twin Cities. The main characters all stew in the imperfection of their own lives, and reminisce about the "better days" of their youth.

Tim O'Brien's
Danzel Hankerson
Oct 08, 2015 Danzel Hankerson rated it did not like it
This wasn't a very good boom in my opinion. It's not bad because of horrible written, it's bad because the characters are so bad in it. I haven't see no characters as whinny as these bunch of @$$holes. I wouldn't want to hang out with any of these people if they were real. It wasn't just me either, the whole class felt the same as me. These mofos are the worst human beings ever and need to grow up.
I do feel bad for Tim O'Brien though, this book was panned so badly by the critics that he quit wr
Apr 04, 2009 Cardee rated it it was amazing
Oh wow! I'm not sure why I'm just now getting around to reading this one, but boy (!), am I happy that I did. I read it in one sitting and even now, a few days later, I can't get over how wonderfully he captured the spectrum of emotions behind a reunion--the excitement, recklessness, tragic onslaught of nostalgia, the beauty, the grace, the terribleness. Parts of this and certain characters are so well executed, they are brutal. Only now, away from the manuscript, do I see the intense anger and ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Alan rated it did not like it
Recalling the old George Costanza breakup line, "It's not you, it's me", I wonder what I'm missing when I read a book that so many others liked but I don't. It must be me.

There were a lot of characters in this book about a college reunion, but when I arrived at The Page 100 Checkpoint I found that I didn't care about what happened to any of them. It wasn't that I have to like any of the characters. I can like a book without liking any of the characters, I just have to be made curious as to what
Dawn Putnam
Aug 05, 2009 Dawn Putnam rated it really liked it
The characters are interesting and I love O'Brien's writing style. It is a pretty dark book for summer reading. I knew it would be going in though.

What really struck me is how O'Brien manipulates the way I read. He alternates between characters - each in longish chapter. By the end, he is alternating almost by sentence. So in the beginning the distance between the characters, the past and their present seemed so great and by the end, time was flying. Sort of like life - sometimes things feel li
Ian Smith
Dec 19, 2013 Ian Smith rated it did not like it
Typical of much of the fiction written from 1996 to 2001: musings of baby boomers and soccer moms abounded in that time. Vain reflections and soul-searches to figure out why their boring (and yet incredibly bountiful) lives are unfulfilling. This book is no exception. Lots of mountains made out of molehills in this one.

Except for one character who was in Vietnam, I felt no empathy for the spoiled, self-centered, "woe is me" sad-sacks throughout the book.

Boring as can be. I can't believe I fini
Jun 12, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Ok, so everyone loves The Things they Carried... I think it's great too, but this one is awesome. O'brien usually deals with some nuance of war, and this is the first book where he really just talks about people...Alumni to be exact of a reunion... middle aged alumni... and O'brien uses all the dry sarcasm and humor in his power to make this one eye-catching and mind-bending at the same time. Makes me wonder where I'll be in 20 years...
Jun 12, 2011 Phyllis rated it really liked it
This was about the 30th reunion of a college class of 1969, and focused on a group of about 12 friends, and how their lives had gone over the intervening years. Because of the time frame, Viet Nam, peace protests, politics and the changes over the 30 years are a part of the story. I have read O'Brien's book The Things They Carried, and like the way he writes. He has the ability to really get inside the characters' minds and bring them to life.
Jan 06, 2011 Denae rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
One of my favorite books by Tim O'Brien. This centers around a former high school class at their reunion and all the ways they've both changed and stayed the same, from the former radical who became an upper middle class housewife to the Vietnam veteran who hears a radio broadcast in his head. Haunting and tragic, this also has all the classic O'Brien elements of humor in chaos and is ultimately very human. Not one of his best, but it resonated with me.
Bryan Davis
Jun 10, 2011 Bryan Davis rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book was absolutely amazing. Set around a college class reunion, this book follows ten characters as they reignite old flames, question their major life decisions, and cope with the loss of their better years. Alternating between chapters set at the reunion and character-designated chapters set in the past, this book presents a story that is true to life and is a definite page-turner.
Bonnie G
Feb 12, 2009 Bonnie G rated it really liked it
Of course this book was interesting to me since the main characters are my age and went to college in Minnesota. But beyond that, I was taken by their probing thoughts about themselves woven through a banal event: a class reunion. I don't recall anyone in my class appealing to me the way these people seem to be entangled, but I loved following their convoluted emotions. Not a challenging book, but fun to read if you came of age in the 1960s.
In this book about friends coming back together to celebrate their thirty-year college union, author Tim O'Brien revisits his trademark themes of war, love, and survival. I enjoyed the book, though I don't think I'd enjoy being friends with any of the characters. You can hear more of my thoughts in the new episode of my LitWit podcast.
Anna Todd
Oct 14, 2012 Anna Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a very compelling read as I felt like I was right there with the characters. The book was that good.
Margaret Carmel
Jun 23, 2017 Margaret Carmel rated it really liked it
I loved The Things They Carried to death, so I was unsure about reading another of Tim O'Brien's books because he would have to let me down after that masterpiece of a book.

July, July was a pleasant surprise, despite it's weaknesses. This is about a group of college classmates who graduated from a small liberal arts college in 1969 who attend their 30th college reunion and reminisce about old times. It flashes back and forth between the present and the past, showing the characters how they were
Jan 25, 2016 Lattefun rated it it was ok
Reading about the characters' lives will most certainly make you feel better about your own.

A mediocre connection with the characters.

The Bottom Line
Characters are introduced in lightspeed time. Readers cannot nestle into personalities, because each one-dimensional character regurgitates into another. We're left wondering where the last ended and the next begins.

Full Review
If a sandy beach is beckoning you, or if you need to kill some time while waiting at the DMV, and you are not desi
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Tim O'Brien matriculated at Macalester College. Graduation in 1968 found him with a BA in political science and a draft notice.

O'Brien was against the war but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the "unlucky" Americal division due to its involvement in the My Lai massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in In the Lake of the Woods. He was assigned to
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