The Gunners

The Gunners

Achieving bold emotional complexity, The Gunners explores just how much one moment, one decision, or one person can change us Following on her wonderfully received first novel, Another Place You’ve Never Been, called "mesmerizing," "powerful," and "gorgeous," by critics all over the country, Rebecca Kauffman returns with Mikey Callahan, a thirty-year-old who is suffering f...

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Title:The Gunners
Author:Rebecca Kauffman
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Edition Language:English

The Gunners Reviews

  • Suzanne Leopold

    The Gunners are a group of six childhood friends from Lackawanna, New York. Together they congregate for hours at an old abandoned house whose mailbox provides the group namesake “ The Gunners”. At sixteen, Sally exits the group without an explanation. The members are baffled by her actions but continue to meet until the end of high school. Fifteen years later, the group finally reconnects for Sally’s funeral.

    They spend a weekend together reminiscing about their youth and sharing more recent gos

    The Gunners are a group of six childhood friends from Lackawanna, New York. Together they congregate for hours at an old abandoned house whose mailbox provides the group namesake “ The Gunners”. At sixteen, Sally exits the group without an explanation. The members are baffled by her actions but continue to meet until the end of high school. Fifteen years later, the group finally reconnects for Sally’s funeral.

    They spend a weekend together reminiscing about their youth and sharing more recent gossip from their lives. Mikey, who still resides in Buffalo was closest to Sally and is still seeking answers about why she abandoned them. Each member begins to share their own private observations and many mysteries begin to unwind.

    I enjoyed “The Gunners” by Rebecca Kauffman with its detailed characters and complex childhood revelations. It is a story about friendship, family and overcoming life's obstacles.

  • Elyse

    Audiobook...

    TOTAL DELIGHT!!!

    I can’t ever remember finishing an audiobook in two days. It’s simply a longer process than reading the same book.

    But this was SO ENGAGING!!!!!

    I was so involved with the characters and their stories, that I literally had my iPhone attached to me for 2 days —hours of listening without ever wanting a break.

    For readers who enjoyed “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “The Big Chill”, “A Little Life”, there’s a great chance you’ll enjoy this story.

    It’s heavily character driven.

    Mikey,

    Audiobook...

    TOTAL DELIGHT!!!

    I can’t ever remember finishing an audiobook in two days. It’s simply a longer process than reading the same book.

    But this was SO ENGAGING!!!!!

    I was so involved with the characters and their stories, that I literally had my iPhone attached to me for 2 days —hours of listening without ever wanting a break.

    For readers who enjoyed “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “The Big Chill”, “A Little Life”, there’s a great chance you’ll enjoy this story.

    It’s heavily character driven.

    Mikey, Sally, Alice, Sam, Jimmy, and Lynn... will stay in your thoughts long after finishing the book.

    Tara - Running ‘n’ Reading wrote a perfect review of this book.

    I think this type of book is easily a reader’s ‘self- select’ just by the blurb alone. I knew instantly I wanted to read this book - and I hadn’t read one review. I just ‘knew’.

    I’m guessing and trusting - other readers know who you are too ....if this book is for you or not. I LOVE BOOKS ABOUT MESSY RELATIONSHIPS - FAMILIES - FRIENDSHIPS - THEIR STORIES...

    “The Gunner’s” satisfies all these things.

    No need to share much. Best to enjoy these characters - their individual personalities- their redeeming qualities and flaws through your own journey.

    ENJOY!!!!! Much pleasure!!!!!!!!

  • Bianca

    What a wonderful, little gem of a novel this was.

    Six childhood friends grow up, spread their wings and meet fifteen years later at one of their friend's funeral. Sally had committed suicide. She was special to all of them. Each of them knew different sides of Sally, while Sally knew secrets about each of them. Nobody really knew Sally, or each other, as a matter of fact. And isn't that the case about everyone we know?

    Each and every individual has their own take on what had happened and why Sally

    What a wonderful, little gem of a novel this was.

    Six childhood friends grow up, spread their wings and meet fifteen years later at one of their friend's funeral. Sally had committed suicide. She was special to all of them. Each of them knew different sides of Sally, while Sally knew secrets about each of them. Nobody really knew Sally, or each other, as a matter of fact. And isn't that the case about everyone we know?

    Each and every individual has their own take on what had happened and why Sally had broken all ties with everyone in the group. Each of them is convinced that they were the cause for Sally's departure. It could have been each and every one of them, all of them together or none of them. Nobody could be sure as Sally never said anything! And now she is dead ...

    is a novel about friendships, about the seemingly little things in life that can affect us, change us and stay with us forever. It was also about perspective, about memory, about belonging and so many other things. But most of all, this was about the human limitations and flaws.

    I'll leave it at that and encourage you to read it. It's simply written, but nevertheless, evocative and touching.

    It made me think - this is why I read!

  • Perry

    Splendid, easy-on-the-eyes novel exploring friendships and friends we relish and reminisce, and moments we regret, from our youth, and deftly displaying love's legion latitudes and lambencies. 4.5 The characters' emotions are raw, true and human, moreso than in nearly all novels I have read. And yet, Ms. Kauffman never seemed to be aiming at a reaction from me, as reader. That combo is special. Really special.

    I loved this little novel. I lapped it like a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

  • Diane S ☔

    They called themselves the Gunners after the name on the mailbox of the old, deserted house that they used as a meeting place. They had been friends since early grade school, shared pranks, secrets, were there for each other, were each other's safe place. Three boys, three girls, inseparable friends, until they are sixteen and Sally stops speaking to them. The other five profess not to know why this has happened, but she would never speak to them again. Mikey and Sallywould be the only ones to s

    They called themselves the Gunners after the name on the mailbox of the old, deserted house that they used as a meeting place. They had been friends since early grade school, shared pranks, secrets, were there for each other, were each other's safe place. Three boys, three girls, inseparable friends, until they are sixteen and Sally stops speaking to them. The other five profess not to know why this has happened, but she would never speak to them again. Mikey and Sallywould be the only ones to stay in their hometown, the rest would scatter to different areas, different lives. Then when they are in their early thirties, Sally commits suicide, and the remaining friends come together again for her funeral.

    Everyone once in a while one picks up a book that takes them back to their youth. For me, this was the book. I too had a group of friends like this, though we didn't meet in an old house, but in a school yard. Nightly we were each other's safe haven, friends we thought forever, but of course we drifted apart. Although I know what happened to some, a few I stay in touch with, but many I have no clue. Friends in your youth, always have a special place in your heart. This book is written in alternate chapters back stories, and the present. When they get together secrets of the past are revealed, and they find out that they didn't know each other as well as they thought.

    Such a bittersweet tone to this, regrets, sadness, confessions but also joy at being together again. The family they chose, instead of the ones into which they were born. They each have a role, defining charactetists that are still apparent even after many years apart. Loved the steadiness of Mikey, his quiet compassion, and Alice is an absolute hoot, then and now. These are the two that we learn the most about, though we learn a little about all of them. In such a small amount of pages the author does an amazing job covering much. Quite a good and for me, identifiable read.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Dianne

    On a recent vacation to Washington DC, my husband (a non-reader, but a very lovely man nonetheless) graciously agreed to stop by Politics and Prose bookstore, a visit that was somewhat of a “holy grail” mission for me. A number of my Goodreads friends live in the DC area and I have always been super jealous of their access to amazing author events. That particular Saturday, authors Mira T. Lee (“Everything Here is Beautiful”) and Rebecca Kauffman (“The Gunners”) were scheduled to present. As luc

    On a recent vacation to Washington DC, my husband (a non-reader, but a very lovely man nonetheless) graciously agreed to stop by Politics and Prose bookstore, a visit that was somewhat of a “holy grail” mission for me. A number of my Goodreads friends live in the DC area and I have always been super jealous of their access to amazing author events. That particular Saturday, authors Mira T. Lee (“Everything Here is Beautiful”) and Rebecca Kauffman (“The Gunners”) were scheduled to present. As luck would have it, I already had both books on my Goodreads “To Read” list, so I was really anxious to meet them and get personalized copies of their books. We booked it from Philadelphia to DC and just made it in time. Such delightful ladies! I had a nice chat with Kauffman, who is a fellow Midwesterner. I decide to start with her book first.

    “The Gunners” is about a small group of childhood friends (three boys and three girls) from the same depressed neighborhood in Lackawanna, New York. The group uses an abandoned neighborhood house (the mailbox on the house announces the previous owners as “The Gunners;” hence the title of the book) as their defacto meeting place. The group sticks together from elementary school to high school, sharing secrets and bonding closely. When they turn sixteen, one of the friends (Sally, the most sensitive and vulnerable) cuts off all contact from the group, with no explanation. The friends try in vain to find out why she has done this, but Sally will not speak to them. She isolates herself from her childhood friends and everyone else, forming no new friendships and maintaining an icy and distant demeanor. The group reluctantly allow Sally her space and move on. After high school, most of the group move away, to college and other endeavors. Sally remains in Lackawanna, as does Mikey, the main character in this book. Mikey leads a quiet and withdrawn life, working maintenance at a General Mills factory and dealing with early macular degeneration, which will render him blind in a few years. The five friends stay in loose touch via sporadic emails.

    Twelve years after their high school graduation, Sally commits suicide by throwing herself off the Buffalo Skyway. The group comes back to Lackawanna for her funeral and to try to make sense of this senseless act. Why did Sally leave the group fourteen years ago and why did she end her life? Each member of the group seems to feel it’s their fault that Sally cut herself off from them years ago. They reveal their secrets as they get together after the funeral.

    This novel has a real ”The Big Chill” vibe, if you have seen that movie. It’s interesting to observe these characters grow from children to adults and to take in their interactions with each other. They are very different people and have very different lives, but their childhood bond and love for each other endures. I especially loved the main character Mikey and his relationship with the most boisterous and direct friend in the group, Alice. These two couldn’t be more opposite, but their sweet friendship gave me all the feels.

    "The Gunners" is a very well done novel that is a tender but powerful homage to the enduring blessing of childhood friendships. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy character driven novels.

  • Tammy

    Psssst. Do you want to know secrets? This book has many secrets; almost too many. A group of friends reunite after one of them commits suicide. Feeling The Big Chill? The narrative moves back and forth between childhood and adulthood as the group tries to make sense out of the senseless. There's gestalt going on here and one's perception of the truth will never equal or exceed the whole truth. The writing is uneven. At times, I was reading literary fiction and exploring group dynamics as well as

    Psssst. Do you want to know secrets? This book has many secrets; almost too many. A group of friends reunite after one of them commits suicide. Feeling The Big Chill? The narrative moves back and forth between childhood and adulthood as the group tries to make sense out of the senseless. There's gestalt going on here and one's perception of the truth will never equal or exceed the whole truth. The writing is uneven. At times, I was reading literary fiction and exploring group dynamics as well as meditations on love, loneliness and belonging. At other times, I was reading chick lit and knee deep in a morass of contemporary coping mechanisms. As a whole, The Gunners succeeds but maybe there is more to it than that.

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars.

    From a young age, the six of them were inseparable friends—Mikey, Jimmy, Sam, Alice, Sally, and Lynn. They pranked and teased, protected and supported each other, and even helped each other cheat in school. They became The Gunners, after the name on the mailbox of the abandoned house in their neighborhood they took over as their de-facto clubhouse. Even into their teenage years, they knew they'd be friends forever. But of course, that wasn't what happened.

    "As children, The Gunners coul

    4.5 stars.

    From a young age, the six of them were inseparable friends—Mikey, Jimmy, Sam, Alice, Sally, and Lynn. They pranked and teased, protected and supported each other, and even helped each other cheat in school. They became The Gunners, after the name on the mailbox of the abandoned house in their neighborhood they took over as their de-facto clubhouse. Even into their teenage years, they knew they'd be friends forever. But of course, that wasn't what happened.

    "As children, The Gunners could not have imagined that by the time they were sixteen years old, one of them would turn her back on the others, and the group would be so fractured by the loss, the sudden and unexplained absence of this one, that within weeks the other friendships would also dissolve, leaving each of them in a dark and confounding solitude."

    Mikey Callahan never leaves their hometown, although the rest of The Gunners head off in every direction. All of them except Sally, whose sudden, mysterious departure from the group caused its demise. Sally still lives in town as well, but even though she and Mikey see each other, she never speaks to him or even pretends to know him. It further reinforces Mikey's feelings of loneliness and disconnection—he has a tenuous, almost formal relationship with his father, and he is slowly going blind due to macular degeneration. For a 30-year-old, he feels old and alone.

    Although Mikey and his old friends keep in sporadic touch, they are all brought together when Sally unexpectedly commits suicide. Jimmy, Sam, Alice, and Lynn return home, each bearing their own wounds from life. As they reunite and reminisce, each is buoyed by rekindling the bonds of friendship, and pained by Sally's absence, and the confusion and hurt they all still feel about her abandoning the group. But many are also burdened by the belief that it was their actions that caused Sally's break from the group and their lives, and perhaps led to her suicide years later.

    It's always amazing how vividly childhood memories can live on into adulthood, and how the hurts we sustain in childhood can continue to haunt us as well. Rebecca Kauffman's heartfelt story captures the innocence and the pain of growing up, the beauty and the disillusionment that friendship can bring to our lives, and how the memories and the connections we make are ones to be cherished our entire lives.

    tells a familiar story in many ways, yet Kauffman throws in her own unique touches. The narration shifts from childhood to adulthood, alighting on different memories of each of the friends. This is a beautifully written, poignant book with fascinating characters, but we don't get to know all of them as well as I wish we had. Mikey, however, is the heart and soul of this book, and his journey, his longing, tugs at your heart and your emotions.

    For those who are disturbed by such things, there is a segment toward the end of the book (which runs far too long, although I understood the overall point Kauffman was looking to make) which takes place in a meat processing plant, so there are descriptions of animals being killed and processed. I pretty much skimmed most of it, but it may upset some.

    While the plot of

    didn't remind me of the movie

    in any way, I couldn't stop thinking of my favorite quote from that movie while reading this book: "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

    This book is a wonderful tribute to the power of connection, of belonging, and the beauty of friendship. I so enjoyed this.

    See all of my reviews at

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Debra

    The "Gunners" were a group of childhood friends (Mickey, Sally, Sam, Alice, Jimmy, Lynn) who named themselves after the family who owned the old abandoned house which they used as their hangout location. They were inseparable and had many adventures together, until one day Sally, broke apart from the group and never spoke to any of them. Losing one member, eventually drove them apart as the grew up and moved away. Mickey and Sally were the only ones who remained in their hometown, but still, the

    The "Gunners" were a group of childhood friends (Mickey, Sally, Sam, Alice, Jimmy, Lynn) who named themselves after the family who owned the old abandoned house which they used as their hangout location. They were inseparable and had many adventures together, until one day Sally, broke apart from the group and never spoke to any of them. Losing one member, eventually drove them apart as the grew up and moved away. Mickey and Sally were the only ones who remained in their hometown, but still, they did not speak, and their paths did not cross.

    Mickey, now thirty-year-old, has been told that due to his macular degeneration, he will be losing his sight. As he prepares for a life of darkness, he learns that Sally has committed suicide. The Gunners return to town for Sally's funeral and confront the past. Each sharing their memories and informing the other of some of their secrets - secrets only Sally knew. Mickey also has secrets- secrets about his past, his relationship with his father and questions that were never answered in his youth.

    This plot is simple yet heartfelt and powerful at the same time. Our friends often become our "family" and what happens when one member of your family leaves you. People often confide their secrets to their friends - but what happens when you keep secrets from your friends? The book focuses on secrets and how they can affect, and change lives. The burden of carrying secrets, of being secretive and the reasons for keeping things from those who are close to us weigh on individuals. As the group gathers to mourn one of their own, they also learn forgiveness, strengthen their bonds and face the truth together.

    Wonderfully written, this book may have the reader reflecting on his/her childhood and childhood friends. Some may be able to relate, and some may see his/herself in some of the characters. This book has a sense of nostalgia. As the book transitions between childhood and adulthood, it is easy to become invested in these character's lives. We get to know two of the characters more than the other's- Mickey being the main character. Even though not all the characters receive equal billing, we are shown enough to care about them and their secrets.

    Reward and thought provoking, the Gunners does not disappoint.

    Read more of my reviews at

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