cover image All Summer Long

All Summer Long

Bob Greene. Doubleday Books, $23 (387pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42589-6

The first novel by newspaper columnist Greene ( Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan; Be True to Your School ) is a sunny, nostalgia-drenched ramble across much of the U.S. While attending his high school class's 25th reunion in the sleepy town of Bristol, Ohio, TV reporter Ben Kroeger is drawn to memories of his summers as a teenager, when the season ``was everything--it was freedom, it was joy, it was the promise of adventure and maybe of romance.'' Ben comes up with an inspired scheme: he and his two best friends from boyhood will spend the summer traveling the country. With no particular destination in mind, they will simply try to recapture the season's lost mystique. Ben's network gives him a three-month leave of absence, and--conveniently enough--his 40-something pals can also vacation freely: steady, goodnatured Michael Wolff is a high school teacher, while cigar-chomping Ronnie Hepps just happens to be a multimillionaire. And so the three men take in such bits of Americana as the Fourth of July parade in an Iowa town and the butter cow at the Ohio State Fair; they discuss the meaning of life at motel swimming pools and stop in at Las Vegas casinos, Wrigley Field and the NBC studios. Despite brushes with tragedy, the mood here is one of gentle, upbeat reverence for times past. Open and direct, this novel will win over readers who, like Ben, believe that ``You should never live in any town that doesn't have a Main Street.'' Author tour. (July)