1964, in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., garage bands play popular songs in school cafeterias and church social halls
14-year-old Beck Lyons is in love with Randall, a popular local rock musician. Randall offers Beck a life that’s different to one spent being the perfect daughter of a powerful politician.
When Randall gets Beck pregnant, she turns to her grandmother for help. Her grandmother - more concerned with protecting Beck’s father than Beck - sends Beck to a Catholic home for unwed mothers.
After giving up her baby for adoption, Beck returns home to Lake Barcroft uncertain who knows the truth. Still in love with Randall, her experience at the Catholic home has imbued Beck with a desire to follow in the footsteps of Saint Therese and join the Carmelite order of nuns. Her grandmother, a prejudiced Virginia Episcopalian, is shocked, but Beck perseveres until Randall, now a famous musician, asks Beck to marry him.
Uncertain if Randall knows, Beck doesn’t tell him even when she discovers that their daughter has started to follow his band.
Will Beck risk possible incest to keep her secret, and what will happen if she reveals the truth?
Filled with details about the lives of Washington elite and rock musicians, LAKE BARCROFT is a suspenseful telling of a life and its tragic end.
Oshins’s experience as a singer/songwriter shines through as Beck explores the “rush of independence and teenage freedom” in garage band rock and roll. The sets of lyrics peppered throughout the narrative mature with the characters as the narrative touches on heavy, period-appropriate topics such as the Vietnam War, abortion, drugs, and mental illness, but doesn’t allow them to overtake the story. Moments of welcome levity lighten Oshins’s exploration of themes like religion as a means of redemption and the fallout of a life based in lies.
Beck’s journey is compelling, but rather than show readers its natural development her relationship with Randall is presented as something of a settled given: “‘Then we’ll get married.’ He said it so assuredly, it sounded like the most natural thing in the world as if they’d both always known.” Oshins devotes welcome time to exploring Beck’s surrounding friends and family, a richly characterized group that includes her charming but reckless step-sister, Sonia-Barton, desperate to grow up too soon, and the villain-esque Miss Kitty, abrasive, outspoken, and trying to rebuild her life by going into the music business. Readers will enjoy spending time with characters that are flawed, real, and struggling with inner demons.
Takeaway: An emotional tale of a 1960s teen struggling to balance a traditional view of family values with the world of rock and roll.
Great for fans of: Iain Banks’s Espedair Street, Martin Millar’s Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-