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Last Days of Summer

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  4,197 ratings  ·  770 reviews
A contemporary American classica poignant and hilarious tale of baseball, hero worship, eccentric behavior, and unlikely friendship

Last Days of Summer is the story of Joey Margolis, neighborhood punching bag, growing up goofy and mostly fatherless in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. A boy looking for a hero, Joey decides to latch on to Charlie Banks, the all-star third basemen for the New York Gia/>Lastclassica
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by Avon (first published June 1st 1998)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,197 ratings  ·  770 reviews

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Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack... ♫

OK, so it’s not health food. But what we consume doesn’t always have to be good for us. This book was full of empty calories, processed to a point where pretty much every bit of literary goodness was gone. And I ate every bite.

A Jewish kid with an absent father moved with his mother and aunt into a tough part of Brooklyn just prior to Pearl Harbor. He and his Japanese-American friend got pummeled on a regular basis. But this kid had moxie (a
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man.

I laughed, a lot. Then at the end I cried. Seriously. A lot of books SAY that they’ll make you laugh and cry, but the books that have made me laugh out loud I could count on one hand… and I can only think of one other book that made me cry. The Catalpa Tree by Denyse Devlin (incredible book, by the way).

It's an epistolary novel, written through letters, telegrams, transcripts of sessions with his therapist, newspaper articles, etc. A story of a Jewish kid in Brookl
This book is amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
I laughed out LOUD, really, I had to pay attention who were near me while reading it.
And at 94% I just HAD to STOP to read. I was at work, and I knew there were no way I can go through the last 6 % reading it in public. The first thing I did when I came home today, I read the last 6% and I cried. I am a mess now. Maybe I'll write some day a proper review, but from my experience I know that I am not able to write a review for a book that touched me in this way. No reviews can do it
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frankly, I was skeptical when I picked this up but went in with high hopes given positive reviews. At a glance through the pages, I wasn't sure I wanted to jump in. I felt like a series of letters and news clippings was going to take away from a cohesive narrative, and I wasn't sure about a story of a kid writing to a baseball player... Really-- where could it possibly go?

Within just a couple of pages, I was hooked. The characters are real and compelling. It was laugh out loud funny (I got look
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Epistolary novels are hard to pull off. By ditching conventional plot structure, the writer focuses all the attention on his characters. If the writer doesn't get the voices just right, readers lose interest in the story being told.

Luckily, Kluger is dead solid perfect in The Last Days of Summer. Whether we're hearing precocious 12 year-old Joey Margolis or irascible New York Giants third baseman Charlie Banks or even any of the myriad other voices we're a party to, it just sounds right, and cons
Nov 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just stumbled on this in the library, and saw it's in a unique form (letters and such), which I'm loving lately. I just learned this is called an "epistolary novel" and stealing from a review below, I know why I am so drawn to this format. "...are hard to pull off. By ditching conventional plot structure, the writer focuses all the attention on his characters." As I've said before, I'll pick good characters over a good plot if I have to choose. So I guess when the focus is totally on that, I g ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wondered if The Last Days of Summer would hold up to a second reading. As I wipe away the tears I realize it has. For me this is book is an old friend I will revisit every few years.

The Last Days of Summer is written in epistolary style and could be a quick read on the surface but it's one to savor.

Joey Margolis is a 12 year old growing up in Brooklyn in the 40's. He's trying to figure out how to navigate the recent changes in his life and has an incredible imagination only surpassed by his
Wendy F
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, favorites
"Brother, If you can't feel it, I can't explain it."

Heidi! That was so beautiful! I absolutely LOVED this book! Thank you so much for sharing, because otherwise I would never have stumbled across it or picked it up. I'm grateful! :)

To all my other Goodreads friends, this is a MUST READ book. (And for those in YA-MA, it is a GREAT pick for the season challenge, hint hint!)

It's 1940 and Joey is a 12 years old Jewish boy living in Brooklyn after his parents divorce. Joey's had a rou
Mimi Smith
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
5 stars

Loved it. Maybe I'll be able to write a review after I stop crying. Maybe
Such a beautiful and touching story...
Oct 04, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
DNF I didn’t like how the book was written with just letters going back and forth between the main characters, the baseball player Charlie Banks and the young boy Joey. It was driving me crazy 😫 Fantastic reviews of this book but just wasn’t for me.
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love a good book sale. I love to chat with other readers and find gems among the fodder at the suggestion of strangers. That's how I found Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. I would never have chosen this book--sports stories usually aren't my thing--but I was standing in line waiting to pay for my two-foot stack at the library's $1 book sale this spring when the woman wearing purple scrubs in front of me picked it up from a table, asked me if I'd read it, and told me it was one of her favorite bo ...more
Heidi (Yup. Still here.)
4.5 stars. Loved this book! Despite the entire book being comprised of letters and newspaper clippings, once I got to know all the main characters it was really easy to follow. What a great story about a young man who befriends a pro baseball player by basically being saucy towards him. I loved the humor and was really rooting for the two main characters. Highly recommend.

03/2015 - changed star rating from 4 to 5 because I still love this book 5 years later!
Karen’s Library
Wow, Heidi! What a gem of a book! I really loved it. I was snorting out loud at parts, giggling like a fiend, and then of course, here come the tears.

I'm so glad I trusted you to pick a book that you knew we'd love! Thanks, my friend! I'm getting a kick reading everyone's postcards too! What a fun "around the world" book!!
Lady Ozma
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fiction lovers, baseball fans, history (more current) fans
Shelves: 2007
The Last Days fo Summer by Steve Kluger is not the sort of book I would normally pick up and buy to read. You can probably fill my knowledge of baseball on the page under the title. However, a good friend recommended this to me and even went as far as to get me a copy.

I could not put the book down. It was excellent and captured my mind and my heart as I followed through roughly two years in the characters lives.

Seldom do characters come so alive as they do in this book. I
Eva Gogola
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, fiction
Baseball is great and I have enjoyed a number of books about the sport. Back in December 2007 I finished Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports, but never reviewed it. Then there was Bernard Malamud's novel The Natural I read in 2008. In 2009, I started Red Smith on Baseball and finished it in December of 2009. I still have fines on my account from forgetting to renew that book. Obviously, I love reading about America's past time and do so e ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: srzbznz
There are so many things about this book that should have made me want to lash it to a pole and whip it good. The story is kitschy, predictable. The characters all sound similar, and it's got the kind of humor and writing style that I thought I outgrew with Meg Cabot and her Boy series (Where coincidentally, all the characters sound the same too).

And then I said "Just five minutes, asshole, and I'm going to work on my portfolio," to this book and ended up sitting there for four hours
Jun 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
An epistolary novel about a 12-year-old Jewish kid from Brooklyn who becomes best friends with a star baseball player in the early 1940s. This is utter pap, but…well, okay, I’m embarrassed to admit that I quite liked it. Joey is one of those impossibly clever and erudite 12-year-olds, and the premise is ridiculous—not just the becoming-best-friends-with-a-ballplayer part, but the fact that Joey and Charlie, the New York Giants’ 3rd baseman, also go on to meet President Roosevelt, Humphrey Bogart ...more
Steph (loves water)
I truly love this book. I have lent it to important people in my life and they've all raved about it. It's my son's favorite book. Joey reminds me so much of my son, he could be the reincarnated Joey! It's been a very long time since a book made me laugh so hard and cry as well. To this day my son will read me select passages from the book and we will laugh hysterically. I recommend this book for everyone, baseball fans especially.
❂ Jennifer
This book is a brilliant example of epistolary novel writing - definitely the best example I've ever read myself. Sublimely funny, poignant and timeless. If you like baseball at all, and enjoy reading about the 1940's era, this book about growing up in NYC is a must read. Serious, keep-on-the bookshelf-forever-and-force-others-to-read-it brilliant.

Full review:
Oh, boy. Large parts of the book were so funny and gut-warming, I could quote every second page. But in the end my eyes burned from held-back tears. So, so sad. It is a war-time story, I KNOW, but, Mr. Kluger, couldn't you just let him survive to humor me?

Oct. 18th: I've just re-read the last 40 pages and got wet eyes again. How can a book be so hilarious and so tragic at the same time? I just love Steve Kluger's style.
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Definitely one of my top 5 books. There's huge ass tear stains all over my pillow. I was sobbing. The last time I cried like this over a book was never. I mean, even in the Fault in Out Stars, my eyes leaked a bit. But this time it was snot and tears and the usual ugly crying. I'm not a crier. It takes a lot for me to cry, so this just proves what an excellent book this was. I've been putting it off because of the WWII theme, but it was really really good.
Mike Reinking
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite baseball book as well as one of my favorite books of all time. Sweet, funny, and very entertaining. I read it before every new baseball season.
Tracy Fleming-Swehla
If your copy of this book has Author’s Notes written 10 years after the original publication, read them. After getting a handful of pages into the story, I was kind of lost and started over after reading the Author’s Notes. I appreciated the Author’s Notes for the extra insight into the author’s life and hints that this may or may not be based on some true events.

I’m so disappointed that this book was published in 2011 and was never required reading for me in middle/high school (sinc
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dunread
I have no idea how I stumbled across this book, but it turned up in my library reserve somehow so I figured I'd give it a shot. Turns out it's written entirely in letters. Yes, yes, I know all books are written with letters - 'badabadabada biiiing.' But seriously, this book is written using letters (correspondence) between the various characters. The format makes for a quick and interesting read.

Jewish boy in Brooklyn writes letters. Befriends baseball star. Baseball star ships off t
Review of October 8, 2018: Utterly delightful, again. I really, really want more people to read this book. It's in my top 5 all-time favorites.

Review of October 16, 2014: I was totally blindsided by this book. The main characters are a 12-year-old boy and a professional baseball player, so I did not expect to connect to them as much as I did. Also, the story is written entirely in letters, notes, ticket stubs, interview dialogue, and newspaper clippings with VERY brief expository pro
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, young-readers
Wow, I loved this book. Joey Margolis, a pre-teenager in Brooklyn in 1940 with a boatload of chutzpah befriends the star third-baseman of the New York Giants, among other amazing things. Joey is dealt a crappy hand to play in part by his schmuck of a father, but leads an amazing life anyway.

There are a half-dozen movies about baseball that always make me well up in tears, and now there's one baseball book that does the same thing. Maybe it's because they're not really about baseball. I would recomm
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
Brother, if you can't feel it, I can't explain it.

This is a novel of letters, newspaper clippings, report cards. Joey immediately reminded me of JR from the novel of the same name by William Gaddis, but only if he were cranked up to 11. He's got imagination and gumption and he's not about to let the little things like age and truth get in his way. Thus begins a friendship with Charlie Banks, 3d baseman with the NY Giants. They are perfect for each other, giving it to each other right back
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I first discovered Steve Kluger when I read "My Most Excellent Year" and I so enjoyed his writing style and characters that I went in search of another book by him. This was similar in style, told through letters, newspaper articles, telegrams and more, but it takes place in the 1940s. It's the story of Joey Margolis, a young boy in need of a male role model because his own father is woefully absent from his life. He chooses a star rookie from the NY Giants to fill the role by badgering him with ...more
Penny Watson
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Quickie Review: Last Days Of Summer by Steve Kluger....

Once again, Steve has put together a brilliant....let me repeat that--brilliant--story. The clever construction of the narrative--letters, announcements, newspaper clippings, etc--conveys a humorous, but also emotionally wrenching tale. It combines hilarious Jewish humor, baseball, and one of the most heart-breaking storylines I've ever read. In fact, I had a problem with the ending. I realize that the HEA-rule only applies to ro
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The kind of person who loved Field of Dreams
Recommended to Julie by: Pat Loewen
This is my new favorite book. I loved it. It's kind of like Ring Lardner's You Know Me Al with a little of W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe thrown in.
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Steve Kluger is an author and playwright, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, who grew up with only two heroes: Tom Seaver and Ethel Merman. Few were able to grasp the concept. A veteran of "Casablanca" and a graduate of "The Graduate," he has written extensively on subjects as far ranging as World War II, rock and roll, and the Titanic, and as close to the heart as baseball and the Boston Red S ...more
Alexander Hamilton Junior High School

STUDENT: Joseph Margolis
TEACHER: Janet Hicks


Teacher's Comments:
Joseph remains a challenging student. While I appreciate his creativity, I am sure you will agree that a classroom is an inappropriate forum for a reckless imagination. There is not a shred of evidence to support his claim that Dolley Madison was a Lesbian, and even fewer grounds to explain why he even knows what the word means. Similarly, an analysis of the Constitutional Convention does not generate sufficient cause to initiate a two-hour classroom debate on what types of automobiles the Founding Fathers would have driven were they alive today. When asked on a subsequent examination, "What did Benjamin Franklin use to discover electricity?" eleven children responded "A Packard convertible". I trust you see my problem.
Janet Hicks

Parent's Comments:
As usual I am very proud of Joey's grades. I too was unaware that Dolley Madison was a Lesbian. I assumed they were all Protestants.
Thank you for writing.
Ida Margolis”
“The only thing I know about Moses is him coming down from the mountain with the commandments and saying 'The good news is I got him down to 10. The bad news is adultery is still in.” 8 likes
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