Bluesman

( 5 )

Overview

With House of Sand and Fog, his National Book Award-nominated novel, Andre Dubus III demonstrated his mastery of the complexities of character and desire. In this earlier novel he captures a roiling time in American history and the coming-of-age of a boy who must decide between desire, ambition, and duty.

In the summer of 1967, Leo Suther has one more year of high school to finish and a lot more to learn. He's in love with the beautiful Allie Donovan who introduces him to her ...

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Overview

With House of Sand and Fog, his National Book Award-nominated novel, Andre Dubus III demonstrated his mastery of the complexities of character and desire. In this earlier novel he captures a roiling time in American history and the coming-of-age of a boy who must decide between desire, ambition, and duty.

In the summer of 1967, Leo Suther has one more year of high school to finish and a lot more to learn. He's in love with the beautiful Allie Donovan who introduces him to her father, Chick — a construction foreman and avowed Communist. Soon Leo finds himself in the midst of a consuming love affair and an intense testing of his political values. Chick's passionate views challenge Leo's perspective on the escalating Vietnam conflict and on just where he stands in relation to the new people in his life. Throughout his — and the nation's — unforgettable "summer of love," Leo is learning the language of the blues, which seem to speak to the mourning he feels for his dead mother, his occasionally distant father, and the youth which is fast giving way to manhood.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Affecting…. A gentle and winning first novel…. Dubus is a sympathetic and compassionate chronicler of ordinary lives.”–Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a gentle and winning first novel by the author of The Cage Keeper and Other Stories , 17-year-old Leo Suther faces some difficult growing up in the summer of 1967. Leo lives in a small Massachusetts town in the Connecticut River Valley with Jim, his father. This summer, he will learn to play blues harmonica from Jim's best friend, Ryder, and will win and then lose the daughter of a self-proclaimed communist who is, to complicate matters, his boss on a construction crew. Against the distant rumbles of the Vietnam War, Leo comes of age, discovers his late mother's inner life through her diaries, suffers ups and downs in his sometimes confused love for girlfriend Allie and impulsively rushes into a series of dangerous decisions, culminating in his enlistment in the Army. The author makes all these developments entirely believable, and Leo's sometimes rocky but deeply loving relationship with Jim is affecting as well. Like his well-known father of the same name, Dubus is a sympathetic and compassionate chronicler of ordinary lives. He understands the rhythms of hard labor and the needs of the people who do it; the sensitivity and decency of his working-class heroes make them genuinely compelling and likable. May
Library Journal
It's the summer of 1967, and Leo Suther is about to turn 18. It's the time of urban riots and heavy fighting in Vietnam, but all that is far from home for Leo, and even the fantastic pennant race of the nearby Red Sox is less on his mind than Allie Donovan. He's just fallen in love with her, is dreaming about marrying her, and is about to learn she's pregnant. That summer of 1967 holds many discoveries for Leo. He learns about his long-dead mother from her journals and poems; from his boss, Allie's father, a crusading Communist, he learns that there are people willing to sacrifice themselves and their families for their beliefs. He learns too that he has a talent for the blues harmonica and that he has the blues in his soul. Dubus ( Broken Vessels, LJ 7/91) captures well those small, mundane moments upon which lives really turn, and he captures too the enthusiasms and confusions of adolescence confronting adulthood. Recommended for both young adult and adult collections.-- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375725166
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/13/2001
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 331,898
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2002

    A Darling Gem

    A wonderful story about a boy becoming a man with the back drop of a first love, blues music and the Viet Nam War. Leo Suther is at the sublime moment in life when he discovers who he truly is and what he wants in life. One of the truest characters written in modern fiction. This was a book I didn't want to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2001

    Part of the Story

    Bluesman is a novel written by Andre Dubus III. During this novel the main character, Leo Suther, falls in love and faces challenging situations. Leo falls in love with Allie Donovan, who, like Leo, is a junior at Heywood High School. As the summer progresses their relationship grows and is suddenly cut short when a conflict arises. This novel appeals to a vast audience: teenage boys, teenage girls, and mothers and fathers. Throughout this novel the characters in each of these categories must deal with extraordinary situations, enabling nearly everyone to relate. As an 18-year old boy, I can relate to a lot of Leo's thoughts and feelings, although I have not encountered most of his situations firsthand. I enjoyed this novel because I felt as if I was in Leo's position, which is a good testament to the quality of writing by Dubus. Andre Dubus III has written an exceptional novel about 17-year old Leo Suther during the summer of 1967. It is exceptional because the reader becomes engulfed in the story, and can relate to the situations the characters are placed in. Leo Suther and Allie Donovan are in a serious relationship throughout the summer. Leo is very much in love with Allie, and believes he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Problems occur when Allie becomes pregnant with their child. Leo looks at this as a beautiful thing, but Allie is influenced by her parents and decides to abort the unborn child. When Leo discovers that his child is gone, he is devastated and upset. He realizes that his dreams in life are different than Allie's, and that there is no future for the two of them together. Throughout this summer Leo learns about himself and his beliefs, and also about the value of love. Overall, the summer of 1967 was one in which Leo Suther begins his journey into manhood. When Leo first began dating Allie, she was the world to him. He bought her flowers and treated her like the princess that she was to him. Dubus started their love story so perfectly to pull us further into the story. By making us so happy for the characters, Dubus can take away that happiness to create a feel for what Leo is going through. Both extremes of a relationship are present, and this contrast evokes extreme emotions from the audience. The writing was detailed to the point where the audience could feel as if they were going through the same situations the characters were facing. By putting us right in the minds of the characters, Dubus succeeds in making the reader part of the story. That is one of the best features of this novel, the fact that the reader becomes emotionally attached to the characters. Dubus not only tells us about Leo's journey through manhood, but also puts us in the driver's seat. While reading about Leo growing up and going through curious circumstances, I began to see similarities between Leo's views and those of my own. I consider myself a romantic, and Leo's position with Allie was one that I could picture myself in. In the sense that I would do the same thing if I were in his shoes. When Leo learns that Allie is pregnant, he is not worried or upset, but overjoyed. He is excited about the thought of raising a family, and spending the rest of his life with Allie. I believe that if I were faced with the same situation, I would react in an identical manner, and would be just as excited to pursue such an opportunity. Likewise, I would also be devastated to hear that my child was destroyed without my consideration. I truly felt for Leo while he was going through this ordeal. The audience is first introduced to Allie Donovan as a sweet girl who has the full affection of Leo Suther. When Allie aborted the child, Leo is understandably devastated. Their relationship goes downhill fast from there, but not by Leo's choice. Allie begins treating him like he did something wrong, although he was doing all he could to maintain good relations with the girl who threw away their child. Leo is upset with Allie's dec

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2001

    Excellence, couldn't lay it down

    I loved this book. Sad and sweet, a real page turner. The characters are so real and lifelike, I wish I could meet them in person.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2001

    Touching,Honest portrayal.

    A truly sincere piece of work about becoming a man. The honesty of Leo's character brings him to life, and the author portrays phase one of growing into manhood with heart and inspiration. Being a bluesman myself, the description of the blues lifestyle is honest, and right on the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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