*Are You Experienced? — Recommended

Out in September is a fascinating young adult science fiction novel. Are You Experienced? sends 15-year-old Rich back in time to Woodstock — where he meets his 15-year-old father, a young hippie goddess named Willow, and dad’s beloved older brother who died young.

As Rich experiences the festival, taking us along with him through mud, mind alterations, and music, he also finds out a lot more about how and why his father became the man he now is. I thought, at first, that the gimmick was going to overtake the story, but I quickly got caught up in the events and characters. I have little sympathy for hippies or drugs, but these kids were real friends, struggling with questions of how to survive the draft and, closer to home, abusive families. Jordan Sonnenblick does a terrific job with the voices and the details without forgetting the humor.

Plus, Rich gets to see John Sebastian, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. This is pitched as a story for teens — who’ll find the discovery of the first time someone waved a light at a concert of historical interest — but adults might enjoy seeing the world’s most important rock concert introduced to a new generation. I did. Particularly the small things, such as the lack of logo-sponsored clothing back then, or how skinny everyone was, or how much better a real sugar Coke tasted. Most of all, the feeling of hope is encouraging; perhaps that will reappear in a new generation. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

Similar Posts: The Lack of Visible Women and the Need for Support § *Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright — Recommended § *She Is Not Invisible — Recommended § The Archies Greatest Hits § Say I Love You Book 2

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