Monday, January 30, 2017

"Return to Autumn" by John Richards

Return to Autumn
by John Richards

Return to Autumn by John Richards is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Adam will never forget the summer of 1992, when his reality was forever altered by the temptations presented to the teenage boy. The summer before their senior year was supposed to be spent with his best friends drinking a few beers and trying to hook up with girls at the pool. But when Adam takes a lawn care job at the Autumn’s, he’ll come to know the meaning of love, lust and loss. As Adam’s focus turns to Carolyn Autumn and less on his best friends, he will have to make choices that will lead him to lose everything he had at the beginning of summer.
Return to Autumn is a coming of age story that explores a series of firsts for the boys.

Chapter One
The Beginning of Summer
Every year on the last day of school it was our ritual to exit the school bus by jumping out of the emergency exit in the back. Mark, Joey, and I had been doing it since we were in sixth grade. Irritating the bus driver went back further than the sixth grade though. In third grade when we had a substitute bus driver that didn’t know the route, we would yell, “That’s it! That’s my house!” This shouldn’t have mattered since the driver was only supposed to stop and let us out at designated stops. Nonetheless, she slammed on the brakes and jerked the bus to a halt and we hid behind the tall-backed green seats calling out “Why are you stopping?” or “NO! Not here you idiot.” The woman just sat there looking back at all us kids in her huge rearview mirror, stunned and trying to figure out if someone was actually going to get off. Someone would eventually tell her no one was getting off, and she would start driving again to the chorus of our profanity. The bus was so full she wouldn’t have a clue who was doing all the yelling, and in hindsight, I don’t think she cared who was yelling. She just wanted off the bus herself. Now, we were juniors in high school. Even though we all had our driver’s licenses we couldn’t drive to school until we were seniors due to limited parking spaces.
You could only jump out the back of the bus on the last day of school. If you did the jump midyear, the principal would be waiting on the bus after school the next day and the bus wouldn’t leave for home until he found out who had activated the fire exit. He would threaten to give everyone a detention if nobody tattled or confessed. I know because we tried to do it on a Friday once in eighth grade, and the next Monday there he was waiting for us inside the bus. Carolyn Autumn was the one who told on us. She didn’t even hesitate; she wanted to get home and ‘prepare’ for a history test she had the next week. Carolyn was constantly worrying and studying. She lived down the street from us and we rode the bus together since our first-grade year.
“I’m sorry Adam,” she said. “I had to. I thought I was going to fail.”
But she was one of the most successful students in school. She was always on the honor roll, as long as I could remember anyway. Her obsessive worrying was likely the reason for all her success in school.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"A perfect coming of age story. I was perplexed by the authors character. I felt submerged in the trios activities. The joys of finding love, and the heartbreak of losing it. I hope the author is writing more, because I want to know what happens to Adam." ~ Mike
"Really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read that kept my attention every page. Hoping this turns out to be a series to see what happens to Adam, Mark and Joey." ~ Tracy S. Woods
"Return To Autumn is perfect for high school age boys experiencing the trials of adulthood." ~ Max
"A well written story of a young man's journey through his coming of age. A beautiful and heartfelt novel that I found to be thought provoking and emotional. The author Richards does an excellent job of portraying Adam the main character, typical of a teenage boy growing up. A great read that I couldn't put down." ~ Mrs O
"A well written story, coming of age story that captures the true nature of loss and grief in young adults." ~ Erica Garvin

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Beginning in the summer of 1992, Return to Autumn follows Adam and his friends, Mark and Joey, from their last day of junior high to the first months of college. Over that first summer, Adam does yard work for Mrs. Autumn and falls for her daughter, Carolyn. As Adam draws closer to Carolyn, he drifts further away from Mark and Joey, leading to some unfortunate consequences. We watch the boys grow up, as they struggle to deal with new relationships, parents' divorce, drug addiction, and even death.
The book starts of well, with humorous tales of boys drinking, swearing, pumping iron, swapping conquest stories, and smoking pot. The book later turns into something totally different, with some really confronting scenes. In essence, the genre changes from Young Adult to New Adult, so it's difficult to discern the appropriate audience. The boys' banter is realistic and believable - albeit a bit juvenile for my taste. In contrast, the adults' speech is stilted and too formal. The writing, which flows quite naturally at the beginning of the book, later becomes a series of short, choppy sentences. Numerous editing errors appear, especially in the second half of the book, including references to things that weren't current at the time. It's almost as if the book was written by two different people - or the editor (or author as editor) gave up half-way through.
This is a quick, entertaining read, that holds the reader's attention. It is, however, by no means a light book, and it ultimately left me feeling uncomfortable and grossed out (sorry, can't think of a better way of putting it).
Warnings: coarse language, sex scenes, underage drinking, drug use.

Guest Post by the Author
Inspiration for Return to Autumn
Return to Autumn was based on many events that actually occurred while I was in the 7th grade through senior year of high school. Not the same exact events, but similar. The characters in the novel are also based on people that I have known along the way. It was funny because my editor would tell me that something I wrote wasn't actually believable or that people don't really talk like that. I would tell her on those occasions that the events actually happened or that we actually did talk like that. Much of what she had wanted to cut, I left in to be true to the story. Carolyn, who is Adam's main love interest, was based on a girl I knew from the first grade. She was an awesome student, and never did anything wrong. She grew up to be stunningly beautiful.

About the Author
John Richards was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs where he currently resides with his wife, kids and German Shepherds. John worked as a book seller for a few years before attending law school and becoming a litigation attorney. John’s writings are loosely drawn from personal life experiences but would never admit to it. When not at work or writing, John and his family enjoy spending time outdoors and vacationing in the Mountains of Tennessee.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards.