Redwood Summer is a novel of San Jose, California set in the year 1990. Haunted by loss as winter approaches, Jason can’t understand how the charmed life of parties, good times, and an optimistic future he once knew suddenly came to an end, and worries if he’ll ever get it back. His memories then turn back to summer, and he takes a more focused look at the important events of the previous six months of his life in an extended flashback. He reflects upon the changing relationship with his girlfriend, the struggles of his best friend, the diaspora of his greater circle of friends, his quest for an ever more expensive education, fear that he’s disappointing his family, and worsening conditions at his Silicon Valley workplace. Gradually he gains a deeper understanding of what happened and what was lost. At the end he comes full circle to where’s he at in the first chapter, a bit wiser for the experience, wondering if he can reclaim the happy life he once knew, and faced with a decision about which path to follow for the rest of his days.
San Jose, and the greater Santa Clara Valley, has a rich, varied, complex history, and continues to be a vital center of innovation and technology. It is also a flashpoint for controversies such as urban sprawl, runaway real estate prices, and the struggle for economic survival amidst a growing wealth gap, all of which makes up the background of the novel. In addition to these themes, Redwood Summer is also a story of love, friendship, competition, betrayal, making choices, letting go, and finding your voice.
The events of Jason’s life also parallel the brief period of hopeful optimism between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the first Persian Gulf War with its resulting abandonment of the peace dividend. What happens to Jason is metaphorical of concurrent real life events.
And finally, Redwood Summer is a heartfelt tribute to my hometown.
Following are the links to all 17 chapters as well as an opening short story.
The Hill, a short story prologue https://robertkirkendall.com/2014/10/17/the-hill/