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Retro Reading: The Summer of '42 by Herman Raucher

Updated on April 22, 2019
Cover of Summer of '42
Cover of Summer of '42

Summer of '42

I think I’ll be spending a lot of time this summer doing a lot of retro reading.

Like many who have books all over the place, it’s always hard to decide what to read. It’s kind of like someone saying, “I don’t have a thing to wear” yet there’s a closet full of clothes! Now with the warmer weather, I turned to Summer of ’42 by Herman Raucher.

While I may have seen the movie (memory fades me) I knew what the movie was about and if I remember right, I think both the novel and the movie were considered “controversial” for the time period (the early 1970’s).

It’s the summer of 1942 and we’re introduced to Hermie, Oscy and Benjie, childhood friends/neighbors who are vacationing on Packett Island for most of the summer. World War II is happening and the three are enjoying a carefree life of island living. For the most part, Oscy and Hermie are on the verge of sexual awakening (although I was never really sure how old Benjie is. Both Oscy and Hermie are 15 and Benjie is mentioned as younger) and the lengths they’ll go to doing “it” for the first time. Hermie doesn’t want to do “it” with just any girl. He wants passion and love. His desire comes from an “older” woman of about 22, who the boys see one day. This is who Hermie longs to be with.

Now that he wants to be with this woman, he wonders how he should go about getting her. She is married and when her husband ships out, he starts to do odd jobs for her. They meet when he sees her struggling with some groceries and helps her carry them home. With her on his mind, he sees her again at the movies, where Oscy has just picked up three girls for all of them. Hermie of course continues to long for her and gladly accepts another chore she needs done. If you’re familiar with the story, I’ll end here since you know what happens, but for those who are not familiar then it’s a safe bet you’ll want to read the book (along with the sequel, Class of ’44).

As for myself, I’m kind of torn on whether or not I enjoyed the book. I think we’ve all wished that we could afford to spend the summer on an island where all you’d have to worry about is wondering what time you should wake up the next morning. It would be, of course, a dream vacation.

The book is written in narrative (and as I’ve stated before, I’m not a fan of just plain narrative) and there’s very few dialogue. However, I did enjoy the movie scene and of course there was no need for dialogue.If you’re looking to start your summer reading, start with this while you’re lounging around the pool or beach.

I guarantee that you’ll be thinking back to your own favorite summer.


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