Please Don’t Come Back From The Moon

The summer Michael Smolij turns sixteen, his father disappears. One by one other men also vanish from the blue-collar neighborhood outside Detroit where their fathers before them had lived, raised families, and, in a more promising era, worked. One man props open the door to his shoe store and leaves a note. “I’m going to the moon,” it reads. “I took the cash.”

The wives drink, brawl, and sleep around, gradually settling down to make new lives and shaking off the belief in an American dream that, like their husbands, has proven to be a thing of the past. Unable to leave the neighborhood their fathers abandoned, Michael and his friends stumble through their twenties until the restlessness of the fathers blooms in them, threatening to carry them away.

Hailed as “a triumph” by O, The Oprah Magazine, this haunting, unforgettable debut novel is for anyone who has ever been left longing.

Praise

“Gorgeous, painful, and exquisitely written, Please Don't Come Back From the Moon is about the impossible things we believe because the truth may simply be too hard.”
— The Boston Globe

“By deftly welding magic realism with social satire, Bakopoulos captures the dark side of the working-class dream.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“Bakapoulos’ endearing first novel . . . is a tale that, despite the boys' empty longing, is full of hope.”
— People

“ ‘When I was sixteen, my father went to the moon.’ Thus begins this debut novel about the mysterious disappearance of the men from a working-class suburb of Detroit. They go gradually, one by one, leaving for parts unknown—though more than one mentions the rocky orb up above. Michael Smolij's father is one of the last to vanish; once he's gone, Michael's musician mother plays "Norwegian Wood" on her violin, then takes two jobs to make ends meet. Michael, like all the boys in the neighborhood, has to grow up fast, working at the mall while taking community college courses. When Michael's mother remarries and moves away, leaving him the family house, Michael lands a job as a writer at a local radio station and starts dating a single mother with a five-year-old son, as if in an attempt to singlehandedly forge a new family for himself. The process of settling down, however, awakens a strange restlessness in him. Magic serves more as an emotional undercurrent than a mystery in this odd novel, part fable and part gritty realist chronicle. As Bakopoulos writes in an author's note, the book is a kind of elegy for his father's generation of downtrodden working-class men, but their disappointments are tempered by the modest hopes and ambitions of their sons in this gentle and moving tale.”
— Publisher's Weekly

“The term ‘heartbreaking’ appears frequently in reviews of this debut novel, whose title is derived from a Charles Mingus jazz composition. With its undercurrent of magic and social satire, Michael’s coming-of-age story struck a strong chord with most critics. The main character is, at times, annoyingly indecisive, but the 12 years of his life presented in this compelling story ring true. Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon should be read as a tribute to the past generation of working-class American men.”
— Bookmarks Magazine

“During the summer of 1991, when times were tough, the men of blue-collar Maple Rock outside Detroit disappeared one by one, with one of them leaving a note saying he was going to the moon. The women rage and weep, then start new lives--finding jobs, remarrying, moving to nicer suburbs. But the fatherless sons, among them 16-year-old Mikey Smolij, flounder for years. After an initial period of freedom and licentiousness, during which they take over the local tavern and serve as studs for older women, these teenage boys live with doubt about whether whatever caused their fathers' disappearances might get them too. Twelve years later, with Mikey's young adulthood marked by some dwindling relationships and depression, there is a mystical reunion, but how much happiness is possible in the face of a void that is never filled?”
— Booklist

 

Show More