The Summer of '69

Featured
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
824 0
The Summer of '69
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
April 09, 2019
ISBN
978-0763695262
Buy This Book
      

With his girlfriend, Robin, away in Canada, eighteen-year-old Lucas Baker’s only plans for the summer are to mellow out with his friends, smoke weed, drop a tab or two, and head out in his microbus for a three-day happening called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. But life veers dramatically off track when he suddenly finds himself in danger of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. If that isn’t heavy enough, there’s also the free-loving (and undeniably alluring) Tinsley, who seems determined to test Lucas’s resolve to stay faithful to Robin; a frighteningly bad trip at a Led Zeppelin concert; a run-in with an angry motorcycle gang; parents who appear headed for a divorce; and a friend on the front lines in ’Nam who’s in mortal danger of not making it back. As the pressures grow, it’s not long before Lucas finds himself knocked so far down, it’s starting to look like up to him. When tuning in, turning on, and dropping out is no longer enough, what else is there?

Editor reviews

1 reviews

The Times, They Were A Changing
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Lucas' summer is ruined when his girlfriend Robin decides to be a camp counselor some distance from their Long Island home. He's doing some work for one of his father's businesses, but otherwise just hanging out with his friends Milton and Arno and his cousin Barry. His home life is not happy. He has a developmentally delayed younger brother, Alan, for whom he has to care; his mother gave up her career as a reporter years ago and seems perpetually depressed; and his father is controlling and distant, preferring to spend his time playing tennis at the club or seeing other women on the side than spending it with his family. Lucas does a lot of drugs, smoking marijuana daily and taking LSD when offered, although he wisely draws the line at heroin. A friend from work, Chris, who dropped out of school at 16, is fighting in Vietnam, and his letters worry Lucas. Lucas' cousin Barry, who is 4-F due to mental health issues, hangs out with a woman named Tinsely who is whole heartedly embracing the Free Love mentality of the era, and who is happy to share these experiences with Lucas, although he is somewhat conflicted about her philosophy in a very middle class, bourgeoise way. He and his friends do attend Woodstock, but instead of being the beginning of a carefree, happy lifestyle, it is the end of summer, end of Lucas' irresponsibility, and the beginning of the end of an entire era.
Good Points
This is the best description I have read about the different options young men pursued to avoid Vietnam. After Lucas realizes he has not been accepted into ANY colleges, he starts to panic and weigh his options. We hear about their friend Rudy's flight to Canada, stories of young men who try to smoke cigarettes dipped in ink to replicate symptoms of tuberculosis or who cut off fingers, and options that include jail time or taking the physical in San Francisco where the doctors are more likely to declare a 1-Y (qualified for service only in time of war or national emergency) status. Lucas spends a lot of time meeting with a draft counselor, although he is unable to secure a conscientious objector status. It is quite touching that one issue Lucas thinks his father is pushing on him for odd reasons turns out to be his father's way of getting him out of military service.

Loosely based on some of his own experiences during this time, Strasser's details reflect a somewhat bitter nostalgia. During this summer, Lucas realizes that his self-centeredness hasn't helped him or his family, and he seems at a loss as to how to refocus his life. His family, shattering even as he watches, is no help. At first, I thought this might be a sequel to Fall Out because of the details about the family bomb shelter (and how many of those were used a decade later for teens smoking weed?), but it's not.

I am only about 15 years older than Lucas. This means that I was not surprised by the attitudes toward women and different sub groups that are described in the book. I vividly remember my parents gawking at hippies and making comments about their long hair! Alan is discussed as not having been diagnosed as "retarded", but still having difficulties. This was a standard term at the time, although it is very offensive today. The family dynamics were also something that seemed fairly common. However, I was very surprised at the amount of drug use in a middle class, suburban setting, especially since one of the characters is actively dealing and making quite a bit of money. A nice detail was that Lucas kept his condoms and weed in a sock in the back of a drawer, where it was meant to be found, but in order to get to his pills and acid, he had to unscrew the bottom of his stereo.

Very little of what I read is aimed at readers higher than middle grade, so it was an absolute delight to revel in Strasser's sparklingly dark prose, with its elegant turns of phrase and inventive combinations of words.

This does have sexual content, language (although the f-bombs were used very judiciously for YA), and abundant drug use, but is the only book I have read about this time period that made me really understand what all the sturm und drang among teenagers was about. Summer of '69 rings absolutely true to the Vietnam era in ways most people have forgotten.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Dog and Rabbit
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A funny, sweet story of unrequited friendship from the creator...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lena and Campbell aren't friends. ...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her...
Prophecy Untold (Shadow Realms book 3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Finding out my mother was taken by the demons was...
Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier―...
Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha)
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Seven hundred years in the future, a powerful alien...
Perfectly Oblivious
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
4.3 (1)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal...
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA...
The Rift
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two...
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures...

Latest Member Reviews

Abraham Lincoln: The Making of America #3
 
4.5
"A highly accessible biographical overview of (arguably) the most renowned and history-altering of all the United States presidents. The book..."
The (other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce
 
5.0
"3 Reasons You Need THE OTHER F WORD on your shelves: 1.) The list of contributors: The range of..."
Susan B. Anthony: The Making of America #4
 
4.0
"Why we still need biographies of first wave feminists: "A married woman taking her husband's name reflected that under legal..."
Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets
 
4.0
"June 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York City, so it's great to..."
Hello Girls: Friendship on Fire
 
5.0
"Some friendships are unbreakable. In “Hello Girls,” the latest novel by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry you will find a..."
The Rule of Many
 
4.0
"The Rule of Many is an action-packed sequel to “The Rule of One” written by Ashley and Leslie Saunders, twin..."
 
4.0
"THE YOUNG ACTOR’S HANDBOOK by Jeremy Kruse is essentially a 101 course on acting. With a bare bones approach, Kruse..."
A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II
 
4.5
"This is a enthralling telling of the brave Soviet airwomen who flew missions during World War II. They fought in..."
Seven at Sea
 
4.0
"SEVEN AT SEA is told in alternating point of views between Erik and Emily Orton. After watching sailboats drifting on..."
Dear Ally, How Do You Write A Book?
 
5.0
"DEAR ALLY, HOW DO YOU WRITE A BOOK is perfect for anyone interested in writing. It doesn't matter if you're..."
What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems
 
4.0
"WHAT IS POETRY: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO READING AND WRITING POEMS by Michael Rosen is a nonfiction, how-to book intended..."
Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis
 
5.0
"During WWII, there were dozens and dozens of departments and units doing things that 95% of the population still has..."
Captured: An American Prisoner of War in North Vietnam
 
5.0
"Jeremiah Denton was a naval aviator who was shot down and captured by the North Koreans in 1965, and was..."
Colorblind
 
4.5
"While Colorblind won’t be shattering barriers, it opens the conversation in racism from a standpoint not yet explored. Colorblind,..."
Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories
 
5.0
"The Parkland massacre took the lives of 17 students the day it happened and the very recent passings of two..."
Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII
 
5.0
"Because of the enormous need for men to be at the front battle lines, or in one of the theaters..."
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
 
4.5
"While the author says in an end note that he excluded a lot of information, the average reader will be..."
A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II
 
4.5
"A Thousand Sisters tells the story of Soviet Airwomen in great detail, drawing on the experiences of many women pilots,..."
Mend A Story of Divorce
 
3.0
"What worked: Explores one teen's experience of dealing with the divorce of her parents. For those going through a similar..."
Clink A Story of Cyberbullying
 
3.0
"This is a graphic novel adaptation of a real teen's experience of being bullied online. What worked: This is..."