Meanwhile, with friends Moose, Fletcher, Angie, and more, the pair get caught in the changing times, which Reardon captures with vivid detail and contextual precision, demonstrating that everyone knew what a big deal it was to go to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival—but also why most of the cast, worn out from their interpersonal drama, sits out days two and three. Experiments with drugs, a trip to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, and impassioned debates about feminism, the war, and more are convincing and exciting, though the novel’s heart is in its multiple POV characters’ struggles to connect with each other and to understand themselves.
Jeremy and Celia’s story is touching and often frustrating, in that real-life way, as Jeremy fights against lowering his walls even in the face of Celia’s campaign of sunbathing and lemonade-offering. But perhaps this quite long novel’s most moving passages concern Fletcher, Celia’s current bestie, a young man who knows he’s gay, even though Celia can’t quite admit it. Reardon’s handling of Fletcher’s self discovery, and eventual liberation in San Francisco, is deft, right down to the embarrassed confusion, on all sides, when his friends spot him kissing another man. An accomplished, humane, engaging novel.
Takeaway: Humane, engaging novel of coming-of-age in the summer of love.
Comparable Titles: David T. Iassak’s A Map of the Edge, Emma Cline’s The Girls.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A