Jedi Summer - by John Boden
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
When I started John Boden’s Jedi Summer, I knew nothing about it other than Sadie Hartmann had recommended it, and when it first came out there were a trove of people lauding its praises. I bought it on the wave of that good feeling and knew it was a coming-of-age book. Other than that, I didn't have a clue, I went in blind. It had sat quietly and unassumingly on my kindle, and it was time to clear some of my old TBR, and I’m very glad I chose this one first.
The book is pretty short – it clocks in with around 76 pages, so I read it in one sitting. It documents two brothers, Johnny and Roscoe, growing up one summer in the ’80s, waiting impatiently for the release of their most awaited film, The Return of the Jedi. I can relate to that totally because I was doing the same myself, fresh out of the hospital.
Boden paints the story of two young boys, growing up in borderline poverty, happy with what they had in the world, living for the summer. It is presented in a series of short chapters, each building a complete picture of a summer, with paranormal elements included – and normal everyday horror as the underlying theme. And it’s so well written, Boden’s voice is just honey, his calming prose reads just like Chad Lutzke’s, the story doesn’t need a conclusion, doesn’t need a goal or a finish line, it exists to exist, it tells of a fleeting moment in time, and how two boys did what brothers do – fought, played, annoyed each other and tried their best to stay out of trouble.
There are some wonderful scenes, namely - the cow - and - the man in the tree, that just smart the reader, it is like an open wound that has had salt or grit thrown into it – it’s beautifully timed, perfectly written memories of the loss of childhood and the dawning realization of responsibility. The whole is interspersed with reflections of the main character, Johnny, as a man, wishing he could have changed things he did or said to his brother, and how those things built up over the years to define their relationship.
It speaks great depths of the man that wrote it, that level of introspection comes only to those that have lost something of importance, be it innocence, family, or pride. The honesty and the simple heartfelt reflections hit where they are supposed to. It makes you want to thank the man for writing your very own story, your very own relationship to your own sibling, and shake your head at how he captured it all so perfectly.
This was just lovely. It’s something you are going to think back on and feel a burst of warmth envelop you once again. It’s one you’ll want to read again, like an old friend dropping by for dinner. You’ll always be glad to see this again.
4 ⭐’s out of 5, and I look forward to reading John and Chad’s collaboration Out Behind The Barn, soon.
You can buy Jedi Summer by clicking on the Amazon store appropriate to you.
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