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Reunion by Rick Hautala
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Reunion

by Rick Hautala

Other authors: F. Paul Wilson (Afterword)

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As we grow older, we tend to think of childhood as a golden time, when the hours poured through our fingers like water, glistening and plentiful. Summers were especially wonderful, those days when school was out and there was nothing to do but play. But when we call up specific memories, they never seem quite so golden; our friends never seem quite such good friends; and there are terrors that we have worked hard to forget. Perhaps that’s why so many books have been written about that time when we transition from childhood to young adulthood, the moment when we begin to regard our childhood fancies as childish.

For Jackie, the main character in Rick Hautala’s Reunion, that “moment” comes in late August, just a couple of weeks before he is to begin attending junior high school. Jackie is camping out in his backyard with his best friend, Chris Hooper. Chris has a great plan: after everyone’s asleep, they’ll steal away and head for the country club, where there’s a high school class reunion going on. They’ll swipe themselves a couple of steaks and have a great time. Jackie’s not sure why he’s so completely opposed to this plan; it’s not that he’s chicken, and he’s no goody-two-shoes, either. It just doesn’t feel right.

John is getting ready to attend the same high school reunion, but he is attending as someone who graduated forty years ago. He is scared to death of this gathering, for reasons he won’t divulge. His wife doesn’t understand it; why did they spend all the time and money to get back to Rockport, Maine from California if he’s so reluctant to actually go to the party? And circumstances seem to be colluding to ensure that they don’t get there at all: a mechanical problem with the plane, no car at the rental place, a mixed-up hotel reservation, and then, to top it all off, a tire blows out when they’re finally on the road. But John is determined to get to the country club despite how frightened he is, because he has a task to accomplish once he’s there.

Jackie ultimately doesn’t have much choice about going, because Chris insists. As they run up and over the bridge, Chris far in the lead, they pass through a strange fog. Isn’t fog supposed to stick to lower places, not higher ones? And why does this particular fog seem so strangely greasy? Why does Jackie feel – changed somehow after that run through that cloud?

Jackie and John are about to collide, thanks to the fog. If I said any more, I’d spoil this lovely, nostalgic novella. The story has a mood that matches that of Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life or Dan Simmons’s Summer of Night, one that brings memories of climbing trees, roaming in the green woods, and doing stupid things that we should never have survived – but most of all, of that special moment when we started to recognize that childhood was ending. Hautala remembers the awkwardness of feeling betwixt and between, no longer a child but not yet an adult, and he conveys it with pitch-perfect dialogue, both interior and exterior. And Hautala also knows how to write about the yearning for childhood adults experience as they remember those long, lazy days before they were old enough to work, when summers stretched out almost endlessly. Reunion is a lovely story. ( )
1 vote TerryWeyna | May 3, 2012 |
Excerpts from my review on Amazon: "Reunion" by Rick Hautala is an engrossing novella (a little over 100 pages). It is a very quick "coming of age" story that will also make you think.

The plot is mostly about two 13 year-old boys Jackie Stone and his best friend, Chris Hooper, who sneak out and have a night that they will never forget. They just want to have some harmless fun: go spying on a party, maybe steal some food and possibly beer... but things don't always go as planned. That is all I am going to tell you.

Having a wild friend a lot like Chris growing up, and the conflicting feelings that Jackie goes through, made me really identify with Jackie. I was a lot like him when I was 13.

The book could be considered "genre" fiction for a few elements that it contains. But the underlying story is a universal story. Whether you can place it in a category doesn't matter. It is enjoyable and it definitely should not be pre-judged just because of an element or plot device.
...
This book can be read as allegory to life and it can be read as a fun and absorbing story. The deepness of it is up to the reader. Mr. Hautala pushes a couple of his points forward enough that you should be able to catch them, and that is enough. The rest, as I said dear readers, is up to you.
...
For the purposes of disclosure: I received a review copy of this book for free. ( )
  antmusic | Feb 12, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rick Hautalaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wilson, F. PaulAfterwordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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It's the end of August.
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It's the end of August. Summer's almost over, and the carefree time of a young boy's summer vacation is rapidly and inexorably slipping away from him. When his first day of junior high school looming ever closer, thirteen-year-old Jackie Stone and his best friend, Chris Hooper, want to make the most of their freedom. They have one last Saturday night to camp out in the tent in Jackie's backyard . . .one last night to goof off in ways only two thirteen-year-old boys can.

But as much as Jackie wants to go along with his friend's idea of what would be "fun," he is filled with unaccountable apprehension. He senses that something is wrong . . . He has a uncanny feeling this may be the last night—ever—that he and Chris will fool around like this.

[retrieved from Amazon 5/31/12]
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