Cover image for My father's summers : a daughter's memoir
My father's summers : a daughter's memoir
Appelt, Kathi, 1954-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2004.
Physical Description:
197 pages : portraits ; 20 cm
A series of prose poems describes the author's life while she was growing up in Houston, Texas, from her eleventh birthday in 1965 through her eighteenth in 1972, and beyond.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.5 3.0 77535.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3551.P5578 Z468 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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We saved things for him. My sister Patti saved whatever she could hold in her palm-rocks, pennies, bottle caps. With the pennies she planned to save enough to buy a plane ticket to go see him. How many pennies would it take? Photographs, report cards, jokes, songs, stories, we even saved Christmas. Long after my mother took down the tree, his gifts sat in the corner of the living room. A beautifully crafted memoir from acclaimed author Kathi Appelt Told in a series of eloquent prose poems, My Father's Summers is Kathi Appelt's memoir of coming-of-age in Houston, Texas. Without a wasted word, she recalls her faraway father, who is first halfway across the world in Arabia and then across town living a new life. For Kathi and her sisters, there are unknown stepbrothers, a stepmother who drinks gin and tonic for breakfast, and a painful awareness of their mother's loneliness.By turns heartbreaking and achingly funny-through first kisses, best friends, accidental shootings, and all manner of pets-these poignant remembrances communicate the disappointment and the delight of growing up in a loving, imperfect family.

Author Notes

Kathi Appelt is the author of many books for young readers. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she teaches writing to both children and adults. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their two sons.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-12. Growing up in Houston, Texas, in the 1960s, Appelt always missed her beloved dad--first when he was in the Persian Gulf, then later after he returned to Houston but was with a woman on the other side of town. In short, simple prose poems and occasional family photos, Appelt vividly captures moments of her childhood and teenage years. The dense particulars (what they bought, ate, wore, and watched on TV) may appeal most to nostalgic adults, but kids today will be drawn in by the author's sadness, clearly expressed in her obsession with her absent parent. Everything reminds her of him, and everything in her life becomes a metaphor for missing him--whether it's steps (stepdaughter . . . watch your step ), roads, or the wars abroad and at home. True to one young girl's viewpoint, the anguish and longing are also universal. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This memoir told in brief chapters, often centered on a single image or event, reveals painful moments in Appelt's (Kissing Tennessee) growing-up years in Texas in the 1960s, before and after her parents' divorce. But like the snapshots that accompany the text, the chapters offer glimpses into her family life but do not add up to a complete portrait. For example, while the author emphasizes that during the summers spent with their father and his new family, "it was a good time to have sisters, to have each other," she never delineates her two younger sisters' personalities. Because the narrative sometimes moves forward, other times flashes back, readers may find it difficult to get a beat on the narrator herself. Often the childlike voice gives way to an adult perspective, which can distance the audience from the events. The author ably demonstrates the trauma accompanying neighbors' gossip about her parents' marriage, the challenges her father faces as his second wife, an alcoholic, becomes violent towards herself and him and her mother's eventual growth and rebirth. But readers never witness young Kathi's anger toward her father when he abandons the family; the mother's emotions, as reported here, and the father's actions as someone suffering but unable to express his emotions, seem more realistic and therefore more sympathetic. The memoir considers universal themes of growing up including crushes, friendships and love in some thought-provoking moments, but ultimately readers may wish the vignettes were consistently compelling. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Nostalgia and longing waft through this spare collection of poetic vignettes. The selections capture a girl's life in the late 1960s and early '70s pitted by the pungent absence of her father, who is working for long stints in Arabia. He returns, but there's the larger distance of a dissolving marriage and establishment of a new family. Lyrical prose probes the heart, as in "Long Division": "-Then there were the three of us, sisters. All loving him. But there was a remainder. My mother still loved him too." Throughout the confusion of adult discord, there's a constant, the tight ties between a daughter and her father. The uplifting joys of a happy girlhood and the conflicting slide of loss are well balanced. Appelt uses historical events and black-and-white family photos to anchor the emotional timbre of her youth, and the nonlinear selections roll past like snapshots from a scrapbook. Unfolding in Houston, TX, this past might have been "anywhere USA." Appelt bridges the continent and the baby-boomer generation with heartfelt reflections. The question is whether today's readers will understand the fluid connection of these seemingly disjointed images. This may be one of those YA treasures especially suited for adults.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.