SUMMER OF '69 by Todd Strasser


Age Range: 14 & up
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The prolific Strasser (Price of Duty, 2018, etc.) offers a semiautobiographical account of a transformative Long Island summer in 1969.

High school grad Lucas Baker is working for his dad’s bulk-mail facility for the summer, and it’s not exactly stimulating, but he has the company of his good friends Arno and Milton and plenty of acid and grass at the ready. But his parents seem headed for divorce, and his girlfriend is off at camp, sending letters hinting at a possible breakup. He’s also been rejected by the only college he had much hope of getting into, closing off his best shot at avoiding the draft. There are a few bright spots: the lovely Tinsley and the upcoming Woodstock music festival, which promises to be epic. Before he gets to Woodstock, he’ll have to wrestle with his views on the war and the draft and escape a few hairy situations with his friends, including a memorable tussle with a biker gang. Strasser perfectly captures the golden haze of youth and life on the cusp of adulthood. Readers fascinated with this time period will find much to enjoy. All main characters are white, but Lucas’ African-American conscientious objector counselor, Charles, offers his perspective on the war and the treatment of African-American soldiers.

Vietnam, Woodstock, road trips, and acid trips: a sweetly bittersweet, surprising, even melancholy bildungsroman set against a world in flux. Groovy, man. (author's note) (Fiction. 14- adult)

Pub Date: April 9th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9526-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019


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