It's summer, and the Clam Island fairies, or "ferishers," as the North American Fair Folk call themselves, are in grave peril. War is coming, another battle in an ancient conflict, a struggle against the Fell Smith and his power of Anti-life. He and his host of demon engineers, kobolds, and warriors have sought to destroy the fairies since time began. When the Clam Island band sends for a champion, they get an 11-year-old boy named Ethan Feld.
Ethan hates baseball and wants to quit his losing team, the Beavers. Jennifer T. Rideout loves baseball and won't let him quit. As the two are tested, various characters and places figure in the action: "werefoxes", Indians and Indian mythology, sasquatches, "wendigos", Alaska, and the haunted, 161-year-old husk of George Armstrong Custer. A widower's heart heals as his airship conquers the northern sky. A burned-out Colombian slugger finds redemption. Jennifer T. turns out to be a champion, too, and Ethan becomes who he is: a changeling, a hero, and even a man.
©2007 Michael Chabon; (P)2007 HighBridge Company
"In his debut novel for young readers, Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon...hits a high-flying home run, creating a vivid fantasy where baseball is king....Images of the icy Winterlands and beasts like the werefox and Taffy the motherly Sasquatch recall C.S. Lewis's Narnia and some of Philip Pullman's creations in His Dark Materials. Devotees of the genre and of America's pastime will find much to cheer here." (Publishers Weekly)
“Chabon performs with the finesse of an accomplished actor, adding the energy and enthusiasm that come of knowing everything about his characters. As he blends the idea of interchangeability between humans and animals found in American Indian, African-American, and European folklore with baseball and contemporary life, Chabon hits a grand slam with this spirited, unsentimental mythology for our time.” (AudioFile)
“…sprawling, infinitely complex fantasy…meticulously created alternative worlds; detail-laden descriptions of imaginary flora and fauna; and a cast of characters, fantastical and otherwise, who possess a bedrock humanity that draws us to them.” (Booklist)
This was a wonderful reading by Michael Chabon of his novel. In it, he spins not only an imaginative and exciting story but he introduces his readers to several unforgettable characters whose charm, depth, and struggles reach beyond the conclusion of the novel. I will never forget Ethan Feld, his fear of baseball, and the weekly breakfasts he shared with his father of badly made flannel cakes; Jennifer T. Rideout, with her three gigantic, recliner-entrenched grandmothers, her baseball cap with her shiny black ponytail pulled through the hole, and her insistence on being called Jennifer T.; and Taffy the Sasquatch whose forlorn but wise voice first rises from a pile of black fur inside a giant's birdcage and who bemoans the misnomer of "Big Foot" for her species as she points out that her feet are of proportional size for her body. Chabon's descriptions leads us through his story with such clarity that I felt as if I saw for myself the ferishers' tiny, flying buses hurtling across the beach carrying the farisher baseball teams toward the field and Ethan Feld's father's great invention—the Zepalina-as it meandered through the cloudless sky above Summerland. This is book exemplifies a truly North American myth and fantasy drawn from Native American mythology as much as from actual history of the U.S. and baseball and combining them into a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar to our own.
Fantasy and baseball? An odd combination to be sure, but Chabon pulls it off. I've passed this book up at least five times because of the baseball connection (I am not a fan of the sport.) Finally, I chose to listen because of my husband's love of The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Chabon's Pulitzer winner from a few years back.
Summerland wasn't anything I expected, and I loved every minute of it. The story is sunny and fun and makes you remember being a kid on a warm, green summer day. I still don't like baseball, but I can appreciate a great story.
My wife read this book first and fell in love with it. So, I gave it a try (even though it's not my favorite genre). It was love at first listen. I took a month to finish it because I didn't want it to end.
The author gives a simply amazing narration. He is among the top narrators I have ever heard. He perfectly captured each of the wonderful characters and instilled in them their unique personalities (as possibly only an author could do).
Summerland is filled with love and wisdom. And on top of that, it's an incredibly fun read.
My highest ratings.
I fell in love with this book and listen to it every couple of years. It reminds me of the way The Chronicles of Narnia made me feel when I was a kid. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I found myself thinking of the game more as a way of life as the book continued
the meandering quality of chabon's tale isn't unlike the the long pace of a baseball game, but that's kind of his point. he packs a whole lot of world mythology into the yarn, much of which will be lost on the younger listener, but what fun way to be introduced to coyote, the world tree, apple lawn (avalon) and ragged rock (ragnarok), among so many others. the story sometimes gets a bit too clever for its own good, but chabon always returns to the center of his heroes' quests. and it's true, the author gives a pretty great read.
A wonderful fantasy, this book is at once an epic adventure, a coming of age story, a battle between good and evil, and a meditation on baseball. Chabon is a fantastic writer of great fiction, and the Summerland won't disappoint. And, surprisingly, Chabon is also an excellent narrator! My 13 year old son adored this book and so did I.
I wil definitely listen to 'Summerland' again. It is a heart-warming story about being a kid and growing up. Even though I am not the biggest baseball fan, I still really enjoyed this book I was surprised by just how much I liked listening to 'Summerland', especially to while sitting in the un.
'Summerland' reminded me, slightly, of a kinder and gentler 'Talisman' by Stephen King. Both are coming of age stories of young boys who et out on a fantastical adventure to save the Universe and one of their parents.
I felt that Chabon did a wonderful job as the narrator. Unlike some people, I usually enjoy it when the author reads his own work. It seems to me that Chabon would know better than anyone else the tone and cadence of the story. While not an actor, Chabon does a fairly good job with the different voices and emotions of he characters.
In the start of the book it was as if Chabon had crawled inside of my head and pulled out my exact thoughts, feelings, and reactions toward baseball when I was a kid. Much like Ethan, I almost never took the bay off of my shoulders while in the batters box. Players on the other team, as well as mine, would make fun of me, just the way they did with Ethan. It was really quite errie just who spot on Chabon described what I thought to be a solitary experience.
While the books is aimed at the "young adult" audience, it is a delightful story of any age. Baseball lover or not, I think this is a great listen on a summer afternoon.
I know a many people who would like this very much--some of them children!
When Jennifer T and Ethan find that the old hotel and much of the foliage have been torn down by the builders. We often mourn nice, new things that are torn down for progress--but there is a comfort in old things, old memories, old ways that can be tragically torn by progress for progress' sake.
Jennifer T was my favorite character. If I had read this as a child--my life would have been very different because of her!
There were many instances of unconditional love--people doing things for others--not for themselves. Not much literature has selflessness in it.
This was a delight to hear the characters as Chabon imagined them as he wrote the book. A gem, a fine summer read.
Normally, I am a huge fan of fantasy novels. Suspending reality in order to enjoy a story is not a problem, but this story is just odd and way over the top. But, my main problem with the book is Chabon's narration. It was like listen to an adult try to make a storybook more interesting to a small child. His tone and cadence grated on my nerves enough that it made the story even less enjoyable. Maybe if I had just read the book, I might have liked it.
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