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  • Writer's pictureheidigrantbader

Manhattan to Maine

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

The Summer of ‘77 by Rebecca Amiss is a delightful coming-of-age novel about 12-year old Albert who has recently lost his mother. I was immediately immersed in the time and setting of this story when references to such anachronisms as 8-track tapes were introduced in the first chapter, eliciting fond memories of my own childhood experience of that year. The main character moves with his father to a small fishing town in Maine, leaving behind their Manhattan townhouse and memories of the mother and wife who would no longer inhabit the space in the city where she once lived and danced and loved.

The author deftly portrays Albert’s tense relationship with his father who is afraid to speak of his late wife as the pain of her loss is too immediate and unbearable. While the subject of a boy whose mother has died is inherently sad, and I did cry at several points while reading, the writing is uplifting while remaining authentic to the voice of a kid. Albert is swiftly befriended by Robin, his neighbor with an infectious zest for life. Albert is the kind of boy who enjoys his own company and he needs this space to focus on drawing comic books. Robin wants to always be doing something, finding adventure, and she craves constant human connection. She is just the breath of life that Albert needs, although he doesn’t recognize this and so he resists. The odyssey of their friendship is beautiful, at times hurtful, and always believable.

I appreciate stories that feature imperfect families that don’t always know how best to love one another. I love being dropped into the seventies with payphones and kids out riding bikes in the street, and friends “watching” Saturday Night Live together each in their own house while talking about the shared experience over their phone (a landline, because that’s all that existed). Kids who write notes to each other, almost like an early form of texting.

Although this is a quick read and is truly a page-turner, it has a great deal of depth thanks to the richly drawn, fully formed characters. If they were real they would be all grown up now, like me reading books about the seventies with nostalgic glee. I am so pleased to have stumbled upon this novel and this author who has additional titles I look forward to reading.

Rebecca has several other books I look forward to reading. Check out more about the author here:

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