“A Summer with Freeman”: A Rollicking First Novel by Dan Geery

Dan Geery is a friend of mine who publishes regularly on OpEdNews. His first novelA Summer with Freeman, is terrific book — so well written. Its sparkling and hilarious prose seemed like the work of a veteran novelist, not that of a first timer. The dialog is funny and realistic. And the whole story about fourteen-year-old Joey Simpson and his first summer with a new friend, fifteen-year-old Freddie Freeman, made me recall my own coming of age as I’m sure it does for most of Dan’s readers. This is movie-quality work.

Set in the 1950s, the book has all the elements most of us recall:

  • Unhappiness at school
  • Summers with time to do the unthinkable
  • Building forts and get-aways from parents and younger siblings
  • Experiencing bullying
  • Trying to be tough, despite it all
  • Overriding interests in comic books, girls and sex and early dabbling in cigarettes and liquor
  • Fascination with cars and driving
  • Key friendships with bigger, tougher, older, and wiser guys who were “wilder” and devil-may-care
  • Early crushes and idealizations of their objects, who often turn out to be the opposite of what the crushes fancied
  • General confusion before the mysteries of life

For me, the most unforgettable moments included:

  • Narrow escapes from the local bully and his gang especially in a furious bike-get-away and a concluding showdown at the local swimming hole
  • Freeman’s wild ride in the convertible he vengefully “borrowed” from the bully himself
  • An encounter with a pretty, flirtatious waitress in the local diner
  • Joey’s painful meetings with the women of his dreams, Maggie and Anabelle
  • Joey and Freeman’s downing two bottles of gin in the woods
  • Catholic Joey’s confession to an overly-inquisitive priest

I must admit that I once tried my hand at writing book-length fiction. And, according to my guide, Writing a Novel and Getting it Published, it transformed me into a successful novelist at least according to the book’s definition. It said a successful novelist is “any writer who has completed a project generally recognizable as a novel.” By those standards, yes: I made it. However, that’s where my success concluded. My novel turned out to be stodgy, moralistic, and filled with “telling” rather than “showing.”

Daniel Geery’s first novel, A Summer with Freeman, has none of that. It’s a rollicking read and an evocative entertaining tale that will have you smiling, if not laughing, from beginning to end.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

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