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Frenchtown Summer

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  320 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Eugene is remembering the summer of 1938 in Frenchtown, a time when he began to wonder “what I was doing here on the planet Earth.” Here in vibrant, exquisite detail are his lovely mother, his aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, and especially his beloved, enigmatic father. Here, too, is the world of a mill town: the boys swimming in a brook that is red or purple or gre ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 27th 2009 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was the summer of the airplane.

Written entirely in free verse, Frenchtown Summer is the story of Eugene - a 12 year old boy who writes down the events of a single summer in a series of short vignettes. Obviously modeled after the author, Eugene is a shy and sensitive but also very observant boy: he notices many small details of the city as he delivers the local paper, and tries to make sense of them to understand the world and himself. Eugene says that he knows his name, but does not know
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
While I wasn't sure about the whole poems-as-novel thing, Cormier still managed to do what every writer strives for: pull some emotion from these hardened bones.

There are a few moments in this book that are just gorgeous, some of which I wish were expanded upon. But all things considered, Cormier compacts a heartfelt story into these 113 pages, that are made even more sparse by the poem format.

Truly, Cormier is one of the better writers you've probably never heard of, and I'm glad my interest/li
Frenchtown Summer was, at first, a bit normal for me. I mean, it seemed to just be accounts of Eugene's life (which it is). Then came the flashlight and the metaphor, the meaning of the flashlight, almost made me cry. I really enjoyed the whole book after the page about the flashlight he received. I believe it was page 81 and I think people should read this book especially for the metaphor on life which, vaguely put, is that happiness is not eternal but can be rekindled. ...more
Patrice Sartor
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
GENRE: Fiction, realistic fiction, verse.

SUMMARY: Eugene experienced a busy summer. He had a paper route, got glasses, endeavored to learn more about his family, and visited the cemetery, among many other adventures. So much happens to Eugene during that summer, and he is hyper-aware of it all, from how his piano teacher smells to the few things that his older brother cares about.

EVALUATION: Written in verse and told through a first-person perspective, Frenchtown Summer takes the reader on a mag
Mick (JCT)  Dundee
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Frenchtown Summer
Frenchtown summer a realistic fiction book by Robert Cormier felt like a tour through the gloomy section of town known as Frenchtown. Eugene is a boy who lives with his joyous mom and his mysterious and silent father who he wants only to connect to but his father's persona gets in the way of their father son relationship so then he is forced to go through the significant summer with no plans of trying to connect with his dad. This is a book I really enjoyed.

One thing I liked abo
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
poetry, coming-of-age

I stumbled across this book of free verse poetry written by Robert Cormier and didn't really know what to expect. Apart from the fact that this book is written in verse, the narrative style is different from Cormier's other work. Each chapter is a separate vignette about some aspect of the narrator's summer, so it's a little hard to piece together what this boy's life is really like. He has a brother and spends his summer exploring the areas around the Frenchtown. He lives c
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the story of summer in frenchtown. The comb factory is the center of life, and all the members of town work there. The story is told in poetry, so it is a different sort of read, but I found myself enjoying it nonetheless. There is not really a coherent plot to this novel, it is more like a collection of impressions throughout the summer. Since it is told through poetry the narrator can tell the sensory perceptions of his childhood summer, and even the terrible events that are portrayed ...more
Laurel Hoffman
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit-1-thru-10
This was an interesting, very quick book about a boy's summer in the 1930's (I believe), and his struggle to define his relationship with his father. It is written in verse form and has some beautiful writing. I have to give it four stars because I thought the writing was great, even though poetry isn't my thing so much. I really enjoyed how Robert Cormier used metaphors in his writing, and how the feel of the book did make me think it was a story being told by a young boy. ...more
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Autobiographic vignettes of Cormier's youth written in verse that is succinct and vibrantly evocative of the author's boyhood and his hopeful, yet sad, soul. I read this soon after reading Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt. They are excellent companion books, with similar themes, yet two distinctly different tones. ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-chosen
Vignettes in free verse of memories during a sweltering summer when Cormier was 12. Like his fiction, these have a way of leaving one a bit bruised, those memories that crush. Although found in the children's section, I think adults would get more out of this. ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: verse-poetry
Short lines of concentrated wording spin a deep story of family life from a snapshot in history.
AJ Richard
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet! More of a long poem than novel. Evan though it takes place before I was born, still evokes childhood memories of my hometown.
Garth Mailman
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young boy's memories of a working class walk-up tenement enclave.

Odd formatting on the e-Book version I read
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful poetry and phrasing. Quiet and unsettling and depressing, but written so beautifully that I didn't mind. Not sure if kids would appreciate as much as adults. ...more
Mar 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Frenchtown Summer focuses on Eugene, a young boy who is in the midst of a war going on around him. He notices it and begins to question all that is going on around him. The book focuses a large part on Eugene’s childhood, and also on the questions that he continually asks and what he’s seeing in the world around him. This feels like a “coming of age” type of book, but in a different manner. Eugene begins to see the darkness and hardships in the world around him, something he never saw a child, a ...more
Anthony Nelson
Dec 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
The poetry of young Eugene tells the story of a summer in Frenchtown, where he lives with his family in the second floor of a "three-decker" on Fourth Street. His father is unreadable, and Eugene longs to know if he has his love and approval. At 12 years old, he is beginning to notice the problems in the adult world around him, while still sequestered to the world of early adolescence.
Eugene sees the life of his parents, a mother who looks like a super model, and a father who looks like a backl
Adam Deverell
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful coming of age tale set in a fictionalised northern bluecollar town of French-Canadian heritage. I've always enjoyed the rare instances of novels written in verse and this slight book by one of the great YA authors is full of childhood memories with melancholy and dark undertones, but also of parental love and the complexities of living in the same town as extended family.

Cormier, like his novels, doesn't particularly target a YA mindset. There's suicide and drinking and marriage tensio
Cheryl Alsippi
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Frenchtown Summer by Robert Cormier. Loved the style and the short-story version of each section. Vintage stories of a young boy in New York. It offered insight into the life and relationships in his little section of the world, as seen from the perspective of a preteen in 1938. Very "real". Whether you are male or female, young or old, I imagine everyone shared some of his emotions and thoughts at a similar age. I recommend it. ...more
Allison Renner
Dec 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Starting a Cormier Author Study because reading dark books in the holiday season, when it gets dark at 4p, is just my whole vibe. I’ll post an in-depth review on soon. This felt like a very unique Cormier book because it’s a novel in verse. I liked his style, though. There isn’t as much darkness as his other books, but it was worth reading. ...more
Kristy Teague
The author had an amazing talent for describing the people in his life, reflecting on his family members and friends from his youth. This free verse compilation was published just one year before he died.
Lisa Lawrence
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it, but it will be over the head of most YA readers. It was subtle and sweet to watch the longing of the boy for his father.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I can't imagine any 12+ child liking this memoire. So depressing and empty. ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Sam May
Book Review
Frenchtown Summer
He is lost in a sea of depression and fear from his family, “friends”, and Frenchtown itself. There is no motivation from anyone. The days drag on with what seems to be no success. He wants to escape it, but he sees that it is impossible to run from everything. Frenchtown Summer, by Robert Cormier, is about a boy named Eugene who lives on the second floor of a three level building in Frenchtown, which is a section of a town. He wanted his fathe
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enter the world of Eugene, who, like many of the characters about whom author Robert Cormier writes, resides in the quiet recesses of Frenchtown. It's a town like most others in Massachusetts, populated by hard-working career men and filled with an assortment of secrets that simmer just below the surface.

Take a walk or two with young Eugene along his paper route as he observes the people around him in the habitats of their regular lives; nothing too fancy or unusual, for the most part, just se
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-lit-2015
Summary: Frenchtown Summer is a semi autobiographical book by Robert Cormier the book is written in free verse and centers on Eugene as he delivers papers on his paper route around his hometown. He notices things that seem to go unnoticed by others. He wonders whether his father who is withdrawn loves him. In the end Eugene finds a plane hidden in a shed he tells his friends who don’t believe him. When they go back to see it the plane is gone. Later in front of his friends Eugene’s fathers says ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like the idea of poetry but who aren't ready to commit just yet
Shelves: shorts
A short novella with the chapters broken up on the page as though they were poems. I'm pretty sure they're not poems, but breaking the text up like that saved it from being fourteen pages long, which is not a very marketable size.

The images are brought to life in the way that poetry might, with unresolved longings and the defeats and deficiencies of childhood. Unlike most Cormier books that I've read, there wasn't really a Challenging Reversal of Normal Social Proprieties™ involved, but there wa
Jun 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Young Eugene reminisces on the summer of '38 when he really began wondering about life, and the meaning of it. The verses in this poem paint vivid images of the places and people he encounters on his daily paper route.

I enjoyed this novel in verse. I felt like I could really relate to Cormier's poetic style. The poetry just made sense, and flowed very nicely. The story was interesting, but the psychology behind the characters is what makes this book truly wonderful to read. The family dynamics w
Apr 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
I had a difficult time with this book. It felt very disconnected and showed a lack of "deep-ness". It could be that I just missed it, because I could tell it was trying very hard to be influential, but I didn't get too caught up in that.

I would be okay suggesting this book to others, but it wouldn't be a book I would want to push a people like I feel like doing with some others.

Violence - no
Language - no
Sex - no
Alcohol/Drugs - some
other - suicide and death
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-13-25
Eugene is a young boy growing up during 1938 in Frenchtown. Written in poetry form this book goes on to tell of several of the different life events that Eugene experienced throughout the summer.

I found this book to be mediocre. There was no real plot to the book and I did not feel that I got a lot out of it. Some of the parts were interesting, but a lot of it was simply 'meh'.
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Robert Edmund Cormier (January 17, 1925–November 2, 2000) was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature. His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards. The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries. His books often are concerned with themes ...more

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