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

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,134 ratings  ·  145 reviews
The summer Michael Smolij turns seventeen, his father disappears. One by one other men also vanish from outside Detroit where their fathers before them had lived, raised families, and, in a more promising era, lived. One man props open the door to his shoe Wisconsin. store and leaves a note. "I'm going to the moon," it reads. "I took the cash."

The abandoned wives drink,
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 2nd 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  1,134 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Rob Kristoffersen
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When you hold Please Don't Come Back from the Moon in your hands, 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
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

According to U-M English Department lore, Dean Bakopoulos's subcon thesis was entitled "Please Don't Come Back From the Moon."

Therein lies my only complaint about this book: It prevented me from working on my own goddamn thesis for days. Because the fucking protagonist is so fucking flawed and earnest it actually hurts and I loved him and
Adrian Stumpp
Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Erin Gray
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy when certain aspects of a story are left open for personal interpretation. This book has that element and so much more. There are layers of lightness and darkness, and the storytelling is both easy, yet heavy. I have no idea how to adequately review this book expect to say I loved it.
Margaret Carmel
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a pleasant surprise.

The back cover of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon makes it seem like this is the story of a small suburban town outside of Detroit and all of the father's spontaneously leaving. When I started the book I was expecting this to be the entire plot, but by the end of the first chapter all of the father's have left and the wives and their children are left to fend for themselves. That is the beginning of the real story.

Over the course of these almost 300
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Darn you, Dean Bakopoulos, for making me cry big, ugly, satisfying tears for Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon. Full of hope and hopelessness, you captured confusion, longing, and restlessness within a magnificent read. Please excuse me, for I must go hang my head and ponder for a while...
Abigail Tarttelin
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Apr 30, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: Detroiters, Michiganders, Midwesterners, products of suburbia
Recommended to Amanda by: History 364: American Suburbia
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, where I grew up, so
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Cathy Day
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-my-students
I was really enchanted by this book. Structurally, it reminds of the work of Stuart Dybek, esp. I Sailed with Magellan. Each chapter is really a short story, but they are ordered chronologically, so it can be read like a very loose novel. It's book I think anyone trying to make the jump from story writing to novel writing should check out.
Miko Lee
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Disappointed by this book about a small town near Detroit where the dads keep disappearing. Comments made said it had air of magical realism and I didn't get this as all. I didn't much like the less character of Michael who just keeps stumbling through and letting life happen to him.
Steve Lozon
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in Macomb county, downriver, or in Detroit city, this book will shatter you. For those who didn't, it is still a crisp read.
May 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm at 53%, thinking it's got to be coming to the end. I'm bored. To me this story is so drawn out, not a terrible plot but just so slow. I have to give up on it.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, reviewed
When I was sixteen, my father went to the moon.

I picked this book up on a whim because of the interesting synopsis and got way more out of it than I expected. A fantastic story of loss and life and living when you’ve lost so much.

I adored this book because of its character driven focus; it’s similar to The Goldfinch in that it follows the aftermath of a cataclysmic event and how it affects this boy, Michael, as he grows into a man. His character is not “perfect;” he’s human and makes mistakes!
Chuck Heikkinen
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Poignant story about a boy's growing up fatherless in a depressed part of Detroit. Fifteen year-old Michael Smolij watches his father, like many others' fathers, silently leave home never to return. They said they had "gone to the moon" - even the local priest went there. Some went after losing their jobs to economic downturn. Others just left. Raw, insightful, and kind, the book describes the path of Mike and his friend Nick after their fathers left.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and unique read; never came across anything like this before. It is both a novel which plays with themes of lightness and darkness of being a human being. The narrative is easy, flowing and the same time very heavy. The characters are at times humorous, dark and sometimes both at the same time which is what makes them so relatable. It is difficult to describe such a novel, so just go ahead and give it a go :)
Mike Forster Rothbart
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Years after reading this book I still remember scenes and my family still jokes about going to the moon when someone runs out to the store and takes a long time coming back. I thought I knew Detroit, having grown up nearby, but this book gave me new insights into life in the city as it slowly emptied during our childhood.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
I read this in a day, so it wasn't bad, but I didn't make a huge impression on me. The premise and the title are pretty interesting, but the story didn't quite live up to what I was expecting. I think this book would appeal to some people, especially men in the Midwest.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This book has more going for it than a typical coming-of-age novel--stronger characters, bigger themes, an intriguing setup. Plus, the self-contained chapter structure--almost as if they were separate short stories--felt satisfying.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honest relatable characters plodding through the highs and lows of ordinary rural American life. The author nicely pokes at the tragedy that is the American dream in a slow mounting manner that is remarkably poignant in its reflection of reality.
Easy to read with good flow. Couldn't put it down.
Zach Peters
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Blasted through this in a day. Very readable and relatable to a person whose parents were divorced when he was young, as it centers on the life of a young man in a town where all of the fathers have gone away.
Jazmyne L.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a good read, but eventually you start to see the bigger picture of things and it will make you feel, but only if you see it.
Rebus X
Oct 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
If it weren't for Jackie Mitchard, Dean would be in the running for worst writer in Madison history!
(and that's saying something since Stu Levitan also lives here)
Luke Perkes
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, contemporary
I give it a 3.5.
I just enjoyed the story. It left me with questions which isn't always a bad thing. It also left me depressed and full of nostalgia. Read it if you think you're ready for it.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Derek  Hansen
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
There's a feeling one gets when they realize they're checking the headlights of every car that turns into their parking lot, when they wonder what it is that the person who has left is doing, or when they wonder if that person has figured out how to love again. How it alternates like some sort of defunct power plant from I wish they would come back to I wish they wouldn't and back and then it all becomes a moot point because they won't and aren't and don't want to. "Please Don't Come Back from ...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 ...more
“Like an eye, the moon follows us wherever we go.” 2 likes
“I still have a tendency to sit back and wait out the bad things that try and take over my life.” 1 likes
More quotes…