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An American Summer

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  180 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Set in the nostalgic year of 1955, this touching novel reveals a unique kind of love between kindred spirits. A bittersweet post-summer story about innocence and summers that are so special that they can't last.--San Francisco Chronicle.
Paperback, 229 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published September 1st 2002)
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Risking Exposure by Jeanne MoranCrossing to Safety by Wallace StegnerTo Stand On My Own by Barbara Haworth-AttardIn The Shadow Of Polio by Kathryn BlackMy Dear Boy, Jack - Fate Took, God Gave. by Toby Warren
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24th out of 24 books — 8 voters
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93rd out of 102 books — 79 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 344)
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Norma Jean
Oct 08, 2008 Norma Jean rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, especially those who lived the 50's
I'm still reading this book, but it has so touched my heart that I just wanted to share. This is a story of love, courage and a very rare and special friendship. I highly recommend this book. It is a beautiful story and you will be blessed. 10/08 _ I finished this book last night. I identified with polio scare of the early 50's as I was thought to have had a light case of polio and was in the hospital for a month. The courage to live with polio and still even touch and make a difference in the l ...more
Kathy
May 20, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
I think this is a really subtle book. It starts off with that "aw shucks" its the fifities kind of feel, but it really is much more layered and complex than that. It was sort of a coming to knowledge story as the main character moved from a somewhat sheltered childhood into a more complex adolescent both internally and in the environment around him. It was the kind of book that I really thought about for awhile after I read it. Could easily be read as superficial, but the layers are there if you ...more
Hila
Dec 12, 2010 Hila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arianna
Nov 27, 2009 Arianna rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Like my sister, the book definitely made me cry. And it was certainly really interesting reading about a girl in an iron lung - especially since my generation was lucky enough not to have to live through the horrors of the polio scare. I love reading books about that era, and particularly about young kids growing up then, but this book wasn't quite all I had hoped it would be - it was certainly no Stand By Me/Different Seasons, which is probably my favorite movie/book about childhood in the 50s. ...more
Rebecca Dauber
Feb 29, 2016 Rebecca Dauber rated it it was amazing
This book had me hooked. While I didn't grow up in the 1950s, I still felt a sense of nostalgia while reading this book. Deford hooked me from the first paragraph. And while I knew deep down how this had to end, I wanted to deny it the entire time I was reading it. The characters were so descriptive and vivid that I felt like I knew them. What a great read! I wish this would be made into a movie.....perhaps it has been and I just don't know it.
Amy Kitchell-Leighty
Interestingly enough, the novel begins in Terre Haute, Indiana, just an hour drive from me. However, by page two they're moving to Baltimore.

Coming of age in the 1950s. Adorable narrator. Fun characters. Sweet story.

A good time to read a summer book this month of May, when weather is warming, flowers are blooming, and school is ending.
Jane Shirley
Sep 26, 2015 Jane Shirley rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book - very nicely done story of a 14 year old boy who becomes friends with a young woman with polio. Tells the story of the time well and I really liked the characters and the portrayal of their friendship. Also enjoyed the historical perspective
Cathy
Jul 12, 2015 Cathy added it
I found this book by sheer accident at my library. Used to listen to Deford on NPR and loved his voice and sports oriented essays. Reading An American Summer I heard that voice in every word. And it's a really good story.
Amylia
Nov 12, 2014 Amylia rated it really liked it
Fantastic quick read. I had tears at the end. It's hard to imagine a time when drugs and addiction to drugs weren't a worry. Sha boom.
Rikki
Sep 25, 2014 Rikki rated it it was amazing
Randomly grabbed this from the library. Very sweet story of two completely different people who found a sweet bond together. Loved it.
MJ
Jun 12, 2015 MJ rated it liked it
It was an interesting story of a boy who befriends a girl with polio in the 1950s and how she helps him grow up.
Jen
Jul 01, 2011 Jen rated it really liked it
This is a great summer read/beach read. Set in a summer in the mid-50s--polio is rampant. New in town, Christopher (Christy) a 14-year old, befriends 21-year old Kathryn who is in a wheelchair because of polio. A sweet, innocent friendship. I loved these characters. I actually cried several times while reading this, which says a lot! My dad would have been about Christy's age in the mid-50s, so that was neat to think about. I am going to pass the book on to my mother. Also, this book made me ver ...more
Tommy Key
Aug 14, 2014 Tommy Key rated it liked it
Saccharine sweet with little depth would make good movie though
Michaela Raschilla
I was thinking about this book a while ago. I remember reading it forever ago and really enjoying it. It was a book I went into knowing nothing about it and came out loving it. That was back when I ate books like my life depended on it and it didn't matter what genre or content was within the book all that mattered was that there were words on a page. Sometimes I wish I could get back to that time. Sometimes I feel like I can do it again, but my mood always changes now.
Sharon
Jun 23, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it
As always after reading a book I have new thoughts to ponder.
Su
Sep 26, 2009 Su rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christy Bannister is 14 and has just moved to Baltimore with his family. One of the first people he meets is 23 year old Kathryn Slade who is in an iron lung as a result of contacting polio. Their friendship is amazing and written so believably that you envy them their connection. This book is a quick read, but one that leaves you thinking about the characters and the bond they forged.
Jennifer
Oct 27, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I read this in one sitting. Set in Baltimore in the 50s, a 14-year old boy befriends a 23-year old woman stricken with polio. While others gasp at he Iron Lung, Christy sees only Kathryn's heart, knowledge, with, and street smarts. It develops into a love story - one driven by trust, support, caring, laughter, believing in one another, and seeing dreams come true.
Kristina Pullen
Nov 12, 2011 Kristina Pullen rated it it was amazing
Excellent.....love books with multiple subplots.....cause isn't that like real life.......story bout a boy coming of age in the 50's, accepting differences in people, and learning about social mores and how sometimes your heros aren't infallible......excellent engrossing read
Bethany
Aug 16, 2009 Bethany rated it it was amazing
One of the first times I have teared up while reading in a long time. Could not put this down. Really interesting story about Polio -- something I really knew nothing about. Also prompted an interesting conversation with my mother who was born in 1950.
Edie
May 25, 2012 Edie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Ah, the 50's when we thought the life was good. New boy in town (Baltimore no less!)meets polio victim who takes him under her wing and teaches him to fly. Not sure why I didn't rate this a bit higher...just didn't grab me overmuch.
Linda
Sep 05, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it
Christy Bannister looks back on the summer of 1954, a time made special by his relationship with twenty-three-year-old Kathryn Slade, a polio victim confined to a respirator.
Rieta
Jan 28, 2012 Rieta rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. I read this a couple years ago and just remembered it today. It was a unique coming of age book. Deford is a sportscaster most days but his writing is sublime.
Colleen
Jun 12, 2010 Colleen rated it really liked it
I learned more about polio and what that meant for people in the early 50's. I also enjoyed learning a little bit about everyday life during that time.
Erin
Aug 31, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
This was a novel set in the 1950's and tells how a girl in an iron lung influences a younger boy. Well written and poignant. I cried at the ending.
Cmetzker
Interesting story about the outbreak of polio during one summer and its affects on a group of young children.
Sonia Reppe
Oct 14, 2007 Sonia Reppe rated it it was amazing
A new boy in town befriends a young polio victim in this funny and tragic tale set in the summer of 1955.
Hieka
Oct 14, 2010 Hieka rated it liked it
The book was not bad but I thought that the characters were not developed enough.
Susan
Mar 13, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
The story is beautiful! A great book about friendship and a joy to read!
Eli
Aug 17, 2013 Eli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
One of those books that falls into the "sweet" & "charming" categories.
Rosie
Jul 25, 2009 Rosie rated it liked it
so far so good but I am not sure it is going anywhere..
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Frank Deford (born December 16, 1938, in Baltimore, Maryland) is a senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated, author, and commentator.

DeFord has been writing for Sports Illustrated since the early 1960s. In addition to his Sports Illustrated duties, he is also a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and a regular, Wednesday commentator for National Public Radio's Morning E
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