Please Don't Come Back from the Moon
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Please Don't Come Back from the Moon

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  734 ratings  ·  112 reviews
The summer Michael Smolij turns sixteen, his father disappears. One by one other men also vanish from the blue-collar neighborhood outside Detroit where their fathers before them had lived, raised families, and, in a more promising era, worked. One man props open the door to his shoe store and leaves a note. "I'm going to the moon," it reads. "I took the cash."

The wives dr...more
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2004)
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Adrian Stumpp
This book was marketed as Magic Realism. It is not Magic Realism, not even if you have a rediculously liberal idea of what that term means. It is social realism that explores the power of the main characters personal mythology concerning his absent father. Magic realism is a term that gets thrown around too much these days, which is pitiable, because it is an awesome term. It describes its particular "ism" farm more accurately than most. However, it gets attached to a lot of things that don't qu...more
Katherine
Please Don't Come Back from the Moon is a rare creation - surrealism without pretension, grit without artlessness, sorrow without self-pity. Even where the story sinks into its own inexpressible core, or the scenes feel rushed, or you start to feel that the book is something Bakopoulous had to put outside of himself before he could begin, you know that you're holding something special and different and true.

Michael Smolij and his friends are the sons of a generation of working-class Detroit men...more
Ami
This book was a gift from a very lovely woman at Harcourt, who interviewed me for a position in the publicity department well above my level. It became quite clear--approximately fourteen seconds into the interview--that I wasn't quite right for the gig, and that I only half-heartedly wanted the job anyway.

So we just wound up chatting about novels and as I was leaving, she made me wait in reception so that she could find a copy of this book for me. It was well worth the wait, and a gesture that...more
Amanda
May 19, 2008 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detroiters, Michiganders, Midwesterners, products of suburbia
Recommended to Amanda by: History 364: American Suburbia
More accurately 3.5.

Set in Maple Rock, a fictional Ukrainian working-class suburb of Detroit, where one year all of the fathers in town went to the moon. Narrated by the son of one of the fathers, sixteen at the time his father disappeared, the book spans the subsequent decade as Mikey grows into a restless manhood. There is hope that he'll escape the fate of this father -- both the reasons he went to the moon, and the moon itself.

Much of the story is set in and around Detroit and Ann Arbor, wh...more
Sarah
This book was a strange but enjoyable one. It tells the story of a town in Detroit, America, where almost all of the adult men just up and leave. The women and children of the town are left fatherless and husbandless, and life goes on.

There isn’t much to say about this book other than it was oddly beautiful. It was slow, there wasn’t much plot, there was a lot of telling rather than showing but it covered some pretty deep themes and it did it really well. It was a coming-of-age story with a twis...more
J.
This is the story of what happens to abandoned children after they grow up. As expected they make for themselves unstable lives, more so while going through the economic depression which compelled their fathers to leave. Without guidance or direction, these youth end up making costly mistakes, and (for the most part) they end up staying in the same poor, run-down neighborhoods where they grew up. And in the end they become as prone to abandon their own families as their fathers did before them,...more
Wileyacez
The book is about the fallout when an entire neighborhood of fathers disappears. The main character, Mikey, and his two best friends, Nick and Tom, are in their late teens when this happens. The plot follows how their lives are shaped by this inexplicable abandonment right up to the point where their own lives closely mirror their departed fathers' lives. The tale is told in lyrical vignettes, each one exploring a new phase in the characters' lives. I loved the setting (Detroit, Ann Arbor, and e...more
Camille
This book appeared mysteriously in my pile (perhaps it follows its plot and came back from the moon) and when there was nothing else to read I finally decided to start it. It's an original plot - a small town in middle, depressed america where unemployment is at an all time high where all the fathers one by one disappear in the night. The story follows one son left behind who believes (like his mates) that the fathers have all gone to the moon. I liked the writing and quite liked the main charac...more
Robert Kristoffersen
When you hold Please Don't Come Back from the Moon in your head, you know you're holding something different. The premise alone has the ability to off put nearly all who read it, but what Dean Bakopoulos does with it is incredible. He creates a surreal world where fathers pick up and leave their families, headed for "the moon," as most of their letters read. They're never seen again, never heard from again. They fall off the earth. What's left then? The people left behind, to pick up the pieces...more
Anasylvia
Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon is a coming of age story about breaking familial cycles and facing our own loneliness.

Michael the protagonist lives in the small working class suburb of Detroit, Maple Rock. The town is inconsequential and is just like any other town except that all of the men have gone to the “moon.” At least that is what Michael and the town call the random voluntary disappearances of their fathers and husbands. Michael and his friends grow up around the gaping hole they a...more
Melanie
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars. This books definitely gets points in my opinion for originality and uniqueness. I've definitely never read anything like this. This was a coming-of-age story in which the young men of a Michigan town struggle after their father's vanish or "go to the moon." There is a sense of mystery about the "moon" if the fathers are really on the moon, or where they could be. But there is a very realistic, disturbing pull these young men feel as they have their own families...more
Mary
Apr 05, 2013 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mary by: Rosianna
Shelves: 2013, favorites
Highly recommended to people who like The Virgin Suicides. A lot of aspects of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon reminded me of Eugenides's book. Though I guess this is more the movie version of The Virgin Suicides than the book, both stories are set in Detroit suburbs -- Eugenides's in the 1970's and Bakopoulos's in the 1990's. Both books at times use first person plural narration, which I love reading and think always lends a great air to the storytelling. Moreover, the prose of Please Don'...more
William Crosby
One of the reviews mentioned "magic realism" and I thought of 1Q84 which I liked a lot and Stone Raft which was okay. So I thought I'd try it for that reason, plus it was also written by a now local college professor. Except that this is more of a slice of life, coming of age gritty realism depressing book. Not my type of genre (that and the Romance genre--yech). Hence the low rating from me. Maybe this is a greatly written book, but the genre overwhelmed me. I did manage to finish the book, but...more
Abigail Tarttelin
Beautiful, accurate, frank book about the cloying feeling of being half-conscious in your own life, of looking at everything through an unwashed pane of glass and realising that while the cast might change over the years the scenery is, in fact, the same. The year Michael Smolij turns 19, his father, and all the fathers in his blue-collar 'burb of Detroit, disappear. Myth has it, they've gone to the moon.

As the years pass, the economy continues to run the gamut from crap to awful, and Mikey and...more
Bookbeaver
I'm not really sure how much I liked/enjoyed this book. It's an interesting conceit to build off of - fathers disappearing, apparently to the moon (or somewhere) - and how that loss lingers throughout the lives of the sons left behind. At times there are conversations directed at the missing fathers, trying, I suppose, to keep them in the literary loop. I have to give points for coming up with this and working through it. Whether or not you by into it, or how much you do, will then play into how...more
Melanie
I can't recommend this without a warning-- so there it is! Don't pick this up if you want an entertaining squeaky clean read.

I picked this up because I stumbled across it at a used book store, and had flashbacks of high school and Dean's name scrawled in hearts on every notebook I owned my sophomore year. There's a Michigan loyalty I think as well, I would have read & bought a book written by a local just out of hometown pride.

The themes of this book are thought-provoking and raw. Michael'...more
Dawn
Set in an Eastern European ethnic neighborhood somewhere near Detroit called "Maple Rock" (read Hamtramak) the story begins with the disappearance of a couple dozen fathers from this blue collar community. The young sons grow up believing their fathers all "went to the moon" based on a note one of the father's left behind.

The young men grow up but never leave the neighborhood and eventually become family men themselves, still struggling, still living in the homes their fathers' left.

Haunting,...more
Isabella
A different kind of coming-of-age story. This is set in a small town near Detroit that gets hit with economical troubles of the early 2000s. The fathers of Maple Rock one day up and leave one after the other. One of them leaves a written message saying that he will be going to the moon. From then on everyone thinks of them as having gone to the moon.

The families that are left behind struggle through the changes and the book focuses on Michael, one of the sons who has to come to terms with living...more
Jenni
I teach at the high school that Bakopoulos attended and heard about his book through other staff members who had read it. It was exciting to read a book where I recognized many of the locations, street names, malls, etc., not to mention the people in the acknowledgments. It reminded me a great deal of Jeffrey Eugenides' work in that respect; I felt intimately familiar with the characters and setting, despite the fictional nature of the storyline. For me, I found the main character compelling and...more
Mya Collins
This was an interesting book. I was not too sure where it would go but I liked and understood the internal struggle of Michael. He and his friends seemed to overcome the odds and were able to pull themselves up. It was sad to see the pain and hurt caused by their fathers and to see the boys try so hard to overcome the sadness.
Lee Ann
I found the tone dull, Ella's whole romance with Mike made no sense to me, and the chapters were too long. Also: depressing. Also: boring. I seriously do not see the appeal of literary contemporary fiction at all. Nothing happens. What is wrong with plot?! Jeez.

Glad it's over. Hopefully the last book I have to read for this class will actually be enjoyable.
Linda Day
Let's see ... why did I read this book ? Oh, I know. I heard the author was a local kid, that he used local streets and parks in the story about his made-up town, Maple Rock. I heard the book had won some award and some praise including high marks from respected reviewers.

Praise and high marks for "use of the "f" word most frequently on a single page" is the mark I would give it. The storyline and it's effect on the characters is interesting making it an evaluation of absent fathers and their e...more
Shek
I'd be lying if I said I thought this was a perfect book, but I do think that it is exactly the kind of book that needs to be more widely read (based on the jacket quotes, it could hardly have been more praised, or I'd say that, too). It moves, it has believable characters with understandable motivations, it's a pleasure to read, and it doesn't try to draw attention to its writing style or stand on one leg pontificating about some high falutin academic bullshit. It's effortless in its storytelli...more
Stormy
This was a good story. It captured the era it was written in and what so many kids go through when a parent disappears from their lives. To be honest I wasn't ready for it to be over when it was.
Autumnmoon
I'd never heard of this book until our curriculum leader suggested it as upplemental reading for our sophomore students. I'm really, really glad he recommended this book. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from students, and I really enjoyed reading it as well. This novel is so contemporary and so honest, it hits home in that gut-punching way that not many books accomplish.

This is a true Gen-X book, and I mean that in a good way. Anyone who grew up on that fine line between the middle and th...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The term "heartbreaking" appears frequently in reviews of this debut novel, whose title is derived from a Charles Mingus jazz composition. With its undercurrent of magic and social satire, Michael's coming-of-age story struck a strong chord with most critics. The main character is, at times, annoyingly indecisive, but the 12 years of his life presented in this compelling story ring true. Please Don't Come Back From the Moon should be read as a tribute to the past generation of working-class Amer

...more
Sara
I haven't convinced anyone else to read this book, but in our humanities community some have because Dean was until recently the director of the Wisconsin council. His next book is going to be based on that work experience--well, so much for Dean's fame and glory. My other connection to this book is that it takes place in an unnamed suburb of Detroit, the author being from Livonia. I really liked the story, which did capture the kind of pointless atmosphere of Detroit's bluecollar suburbs. The n...more
Lisbeth
Enjoyable surreal bildungsroman set in the post-apocalypse of the imploding automotive and manufacturing industry of eastern Michigan. Certainly there's an odd sense of familiarity and comfort when the roads described are the roads you drive down everyday, when the protagonist lives the same weary life as a bookseller, pricing remainders and facing-out novels.

It sags a little in the middle, like a traveller at a crossroads, unsure what direction to head in - but ends neatly, if without as much...more
Gabe
This book is so good, it had me dreaming in its narrative style over the last couple of nights. Told in the first person, it’s the story of Mickey, whose dad suddenly abandons his family when he is 17 years old. Through a series of vignettes, Mickey reflects on the next 13 years, providing insight into what it was like to grow into a father himself without a father’s guidance. The first person narrative carries a tragically somber tone- hinting that grown-up Mickey is not yet sure what will be o...more
Bill
I really enjoyed reading this book. Which is perhaps the best you can ask of anything. Of course, it was set in Michigan, concerned a bunch of guys who talk like me, and featured all of my old friends, or some version of them. So I could be biased.

Thanks to Knickers who lent this book to me. She's a great lady. But she's in Wisconsin, so she can't have it back because the post office is taking a nine month furlough on a account of the lagging economy. Who wants it next? Jeremy? You have to read...more
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Dean Bakopoulos was born in Dearborn Heights, Michigan on July 6, 1975 to a Ukrainian mother and a Greek father. A child of immigrants, he grew up speaking both Ukrainian and English, was shy to the point of psychosis, and avoided group gatherings and rarely left his mother’s side. He ate copious amounts of borscht and cabbage rolls. When his grandfather, Gregory Smolij, retired from 25 years on t...more
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