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Retro Reading: Class of '44 by Madeline Shaner (based on the original screenplay by Herman Raucher)

Updated on November 7, 2014
Cover of Class of '44
Cover of Class of '44

Class of '44

With the success of Summer of ’42 (both novel and film) it was no wonder that a sequel was written. It’s two years later and now we follow Hermie, Oscy and Benjie as they become the Class of ’44.

Based on the original screenplay by Herman Raucher (and novelized by Madeline Shaner) this is one of those rare instances when the sequel is actually better than the original. There’s a lot more to this story and it really is an enjoyable breezy read. While many can remember their first love as evidenced in Summer of ’42, Class of ’44 begins with the high school graduation of the Terrible Trio. Who can’t forget their passage from high school to adult?

We’ve all been there and can relate to that special day when we were thrust into the real world.Hermie and Oscy spend the summer working, while Benjie has enlisted in the Marines. Both are shocked by this news and soon Benjie is headed off to war. The older boys will be attending college in a few weeks and weighing on their minds are should they have enlisted and what will it be like living away from home? They get to school where Hermie excels and Oscy just wants to leave. He promised that he’d give it a shot, but his grade suffer and he’d rather be off fighting since World War II is still going strong. Both try to find themselves while at college, with Hermie joining the school’s newspaper and Oscy going out for the football team.

On the day Hermie stops at the newspaper office, he runs into an enthusiastic female reporter and develops a wild crush on her. She obviously doesn’t get a spot on the paper and one day when he looks up, there she is. Julie.The two start dating and suggests the boys join a fraternity (one that she chooses for them) and during hazing, they wonder if this is what they want to do. Of course their perk would be to get out of the boarding house with its strict rules

.As the story progresses, Hermie and Julie fall in love and Oscy is licked out of school. Whether he’s happy or not is debatable, but now he can go ahead and join the Army.

I’ve always thought that your adulthood actually started somewhere in the fall of your graduating year of high school, and this story does just that. If you can remember back to the year you graduated, your life seemed to start to fall into place around that time. Whether it was college or straight to work, this book captures what everyone seems to feel at this turning point in their life. Uncertainty.

While it’s been many years since I walked across that stage, I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. Maybe someday I will.


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