"Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950's. This is none of Ireland's subtle seasons mixed for a connoisseur's palate, watercolor nuances within a pinch-sized range of cloud and soft rain; this is summer full0throated and extravagant in a hot pure silkscreen blue. This summer explodes on your tongue tasting of chewed blades of long grass, your own clean sweat. Marie biscuits with butter squirting through the holes and shaken bottles of red lemonade picnicked in tree houses. It tingles on your skin with BMX wind in your face, ladybug feet up your arm; it packs every breath full of mown grass and billowing wash lines; it chimes and fountains with birdcalls, bees, leaves and football-bounces and skipping-chants. One! two! three! This summer will never end. It starts every day with a shower of Mr. Whippy notes and your best friend's knock at the door, finishes it with long slow twilight and mothers silhouetted in doorways calling you to come in, through the bats shrilling among the black lace trees. This is Everysummer decked in all its best glory."
"Move closer, follow the three children scrambling over the thin membrane of brick and mortar that holds the wood back from the semi-ds. Their bodies have the perfect economy of latency: they are streamlined and unselfconscious, pared to light flying machines. White tattoos - lightning bolt, star, A-flash where they cut Band-Aids into shapes and let the sun brown around them. A flag of white-blond hair flies out; toehold, knee on the wall, up and over and gone.In two pages, just two, French manages to thoroughly immerse her readers in the book's setting and the darkness that will enfold them. Brilliant.
The wood is all flicker and murmur and illusion. Its silence it a pointillist conspiracy of a million tiny noises - rustles, flurries, nameless truncated shrieks; its emptiness teems with secret life, scurrying just beyond the corner of your eye. Careful: bees zip in and out of cracks in the leaning oak; stop to turn any stone and strange larvae will write irritably, who an earnest three of ants twines up your ankle. In the ruined tower, someone's abandoned strongholds, nettles thick as your wrist seize between the stones, and at dawn rabbits bring their kittens out from the foundations to play on ancient graves.
These three children own the summer. They know the wood as surely as they know the micro landscapes of their own grazed knees; put them down blindfolded in any dell or clearing and they find their way out without putting a foot wrong. This is their territory, and they rule it wild and lordly as young animals; they scramble through its trees and hide-and-seek in its hollows all the endless day long, and all night in their dreams.
They are running into legend, into sleepover stories and nightmares parents never hear. Down the faint lost paths you would never find alone, skidding round the tumbled stone walls, they stream calls and shoelaces behind them like comet-trails. And who is it waiting on the riverbank with his hands in the willow branches, whose laughter tumbles swaying from a branch high above, whose face in the undergrowth in the corner of your eye, built of light and leaf-shadow, there and gone in a blink?
These children will not be coming of age, this or any other summer. This August will not ask them to find hidden reserves of strength and courage as they confront the complexity of the adult world and come away sadder and wiser and bonded for life. This summer has other requirements for them."