do-overDo-Over!: In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassmentsby Robin Hemley


Robin Hemley’s childhood made a wedgie of his memory, leaving him sore and embarrassed for over forty years. He was the most pitiful kindergartner, the least spirited summer camper, and dateless for prom. In fact, there’s nary an event from his youth that couldn’t use improvement. If only he could do them all over a few decades later, with an adult’s wisdom, perspective, and giant-like height…

Despite being bigger and taller, Robin learns that the bullies haven’t gone away. Neither have the papier-mâché projects, his bedroom at his childhood home, or the senior prom, which he finally gets a second chance at going to—at his actual former high school, with his actual teenage crush.

In the spirit of cult film classics like Billy Madison and Wet Hot American SummerDO-OVER! brings readers the thrill of recapturing a misspent youth and discovering what’s most important: simple pleasures, second chances, and the forgotten joys of recess.

My thoughts:

There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in this book, like when he’s playing pretend in kindergarten. One of the kids has borrowed a book Hemley has with him and they are using it as a pretend recipe book, A Million Little Pizzas.

He pulls out a plastic pizza from the oven and says, “You want sauswidge?” Then he offers me an array of drinks, including Dr Pepper, Coke, and “things that kids can’t have,” which, he elaborates, means alcohol. A kindergartner serving up pretend alcohol, out of a pretend recipe book, made from a pretend memoir about alcohol addiction, to a pretend kindergartner. Sounds like a dangerous mix, so I opt for water instead. (pg. 19 ARC)

Hemley’s got a great sense of humor and it really is funny seeing the lives of kids and teenagers through an adult’s eye. He also makes some wonderful observations about human nature. It amazes me how willingly the kids accepted him as one of themselves. They let him in on their games and didn’t expect him to moderate fights.

The faculty and other adults he ran into during his project had mixed reactions, but most seemed to understand. I, however, didn’t. I just didn’t get this book or his project. It was funny, but really, what was the point? I know: to have a do-over, to make new memories, to find some degree of closure, to become a better father to his own kids. It sounds good, but to be honest, I just didn’t get it. I felt like it was a waste of my time. I was amused fairly often, but I didn’t care about Hemley or his “project” and really thought it was kind of odd. I think I’d be creeped out if a 48 year-old man was joining Amber’s class or camp for a week – as a student. Maybe the fact that I can’t ever imagine wanting to “do-over” any of those points in my life didn’t help.

The Giveaway:

That being said, it is a funny book and well-written. If you’re looking for some laughs or have ever dreamed of redoing your childhood, this may be right up your alley, and I just happen to have five to giveaway.

To enter, just leave me a comment below. For an extra entry, tell me about one time or event in your life you would like to do-over. Sharing, somehow, somewhere, will get you up to two extra entries, just make sure to let me know.

The deadline for entries is May 29, with the winners announced May 30. Since this giveaway is courtesy of Hachette Book Group, it is open to the US and Canada only, no PO Boxes.


* I just went back and edited this. Apparently I couldn’t actually spell earlier today. Sorry!


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