The Farewell Season by Ann Herrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Eric Nielsen has been kind of a dick since his dad died unexpectedly a few months ago. He seems to have gotten stuck somewhere between the denial and anger stages of grief, and it's made him stand-offish and surly, even to his beloved cat! But his grouchiest grumblings are reserved for his Mom, and younger sister. It doesn't seem to occur to him that they might be hurting too, or that his attitude is making things even harder for them. Despite all that, it's difficult not to like Eric. He really doesn't know how to deal with his loss any other way, and he's hurting himself just as badly as he's hurting those around him. And now, with football season about to begin, the fact that everything has changed since last year at this time really can't be avoided any longer. And what's up with that new girl, Glynnie? If she's so determined to be dowdy, why can't Eric stop thinking about her, to the point of spending enough time with her to realize that he's not the only one with father problems.
This is really a lovely book, with a sweet tone and story that pulls you into its world subtly but deeply, until you begin to care deeply about the characters and the way they are all dealing with change, loss, grief, old pain and new beginnings. It's not a book about big events - it's a small scale story of one boy in a small town, but the emotional impact is still big. MC Eric, of course, is the focal point, but all of the characters are fully fleshed out, with real feeling personalities and voices. Not to slight the other side characters, but Glynnie is especially loveable. It's pretty cool for a YA family drama/romance to be written from a boy POV, but then to have the female character be the kind of quirky off-beat independent type we ususally see portrayed as a guy (like a Sarah Dessen boy, only she's a girl), is really quite amazing, and Eric is certainly lucky to have found her (and to have figured that out!) The vibe and flavor of the little town of Crystal Lake is beautifully portrayed, especially through all of the mouth-watering Scandinavian foods so lovingly and temptingly described. I'm not really a huge sports fan, and there's a lot of football in this book. But like Lance Armstrong so aptly said, it's not about the bike. It's about the emotional impact of Eric's commitment, about what football meant between him and his Dad, it's about how change comes to everything, in ways that we are going to have to deal with even if it's not fair, that make the football element relatable even for nerds.
This is a quietly emotional read that will sneak up on your heart (and tear ducts) if you let yourself sink into its world. I very much appreciate that author Ann Herrick provided me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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