1969 by Sea  Gudinski


A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back
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Debut author Gudinski presents a story of music and time travel.

Rhiannon Karlson is an 18-year-old in Fresno, California, in the year 2000. She loves playing the drums, and her classic rock cover band is pretty good. They’re so good, in fact, that a record label wants to sign them to a lucrative contract. Rhiannon’s mom, however, hates rock music, and the regular shouting matches between mother and daughter are heated. Everything changes when Rhiannon smokes a powerful hallucinogenic crystal that transports her to 1969 San Francisco. As luck would have it, she happens upon a rock band called the Day Trippers who need a drummer. So begins her journey that involves hippies, drugs, and lots and lots of music. She meets singer-songwriter Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, drops acid in Golden Gate Park, and as a high-water mark, takes a trip across the country with the Day Trippers to Woodstock. But as the band reaches a modicum of success, trouble lurks just around the corner. There’s also the larger question of whether Rhiannon will ever return to her own time. Some readers may take exception to the fact that the protagonist doesn’t seem to care that her actions in the past could have consequences on the future. Nevertheless, Gudinski doesn’t dwell on such details, instead putting the focus on Rhiannon’s long, strange trip through the titular year. The book deftly describes the excitement around Woodstock and the many voices in its crowd, as when one concertgoer exclaims, “I am He and He is me, we are three—Exist!” The problem is that Rhiannon doesn’t really deal with very much of significance over the course of the tale, and a jolly old drifter and an agitated hitchhiker that she meets along the way seem like little more than stereotypes. It’s only post-Woodstock that the groovy days begin to waver. The real question that will keep readers’ attention is what Rhiannon will do with these experiences. Will it all be forgotten in modern times?

Plenty to groove on, despite some dull stretches. 

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-578-48779-3
Page count: 569pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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