Picks and Pans Review: All Summer Long

updated 06/14/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/14/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Bob Greene

Greene brings to his first novel the same warm, folksy style that graces his syndicated Chicago newspaper column. All Summer Long is the story of three childhood pals who meet again at their 25th high school reunion and, in a kind of triple-header mid-life crisis, decide to leave their families and careers, jump in the car and drive cross country all summer.

This is less a journey into America than a journey into their shared past. As Ben (a disaffected TV journalist), Michael (a quiet high school teacher) and Ronnie (a rich CEO) savor their memories of growing up together in the '50s and '60s in a tranquil Ohio town, they are in fact reassessing their present lives and examining their personal successes and failures as sons, husbands and fathers.

On one level, Greene, a 46-year-old native of Bexley, Ohio, has created a paean to a sheltered, small-town America that no longer exists. Beyond that, the novel is a testament to the homespun values of family and friendship that endure no matter how tar you roam from Small Town, U.S.A. Despite a tendency to be a bit too sweet, Summer is as refreshing as a tall glass of iced tea on a July afternoon. (Double-day, $23)

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