Summer of '69

  • Type: Books
  • By: Todd Strasser
  • Age Category: Teens
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780763695262
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Life-changing events against a backdrop of war, weed, and Woodstock

In this semi-autobiographical novel, Todd Strasser lets us into the world of Lucas Baker: white,  upper middle class, and a recent high school graduate, whose lack of ambition and fondness for drugs has led to academic mediocrity and rejection from his college of choice.   This means Lucas is eligible for the military draft, and with the Vietnam War raging, that could be a death sentence.  Trouble at home and the absence of his girlfriend only complicate matters.

This book is so rich in period detail that even modes of transportation become aspects of character development.  Feckless but self-aware Lucas drives a freaked-out VW microbus, and when it breaks down he buys a British motorcycle (but not a Triumph – too pricey).  His emotionally stunted father has a classic MG sports car that, says Lucas, he cares about more than his family.  And one of Lucas’s friends, a would-be drug dealer who never quite embraces the Hippie peace-and-love vibe, goes around in a pavement-pounding GTO.  

Sex, drugs, and violent death are discussed openly, so this may not be a good choice for younger readers.  But otherwise, this is an absorbing look at a tumultuous time in American history that some people survived and some did not.