Summer of '69

Summer of '69

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the remarkable summer that led up to it. Featuring Sir Lucas of the Round Table(t). Astonishingly autobiographical. Remarkably personal. Profoundly irresponsible.Drawing from his teenage years, Todd Strasser's novel revisits a tumultuous era and takes readers on a psychedelically tinged trip of a lifetime.With his girlfrien...

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Title:Summer of '69
Author:Todd Strasser
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Summer of '69 Reviews

  • Marshall Green

    Wow, just finished the ARC (Thanks, Candlewick!) last night around 1 am. This is a page-turner for sure. Not sure it's really YA material, but what a ride. I guess I should say, what a trip since that's what the main character Lucas spends a lot of time doing. The author says it's mostly autobiographical and it does indeed feel that way. I have to admit that one thing that kept me going was not being able to guess where the story was headed. But I guess that's the point. That summer the author d

    Wow, just finished the ARC (Thanks, Candlewick!) last night around 1 am. This is a page-turner for sure. Not sure it's really YA material, but what a ride. I guess I should say, what a trip since that's what the main character Lucas spends a lot of time doing. The author says it's mostly autobiographical and it does indeed feel that way. I have to admit that one thing that kept me going was not being able to guess where the story was headed. But I guess that's the point. That summer the author didn't now where he was headed either. I wasn't alive then, but even if I was, this is a world I don't think I would have ventured into. A real eye opener as to what young people were up to back then.

  • Sam Bough

    first there was Cheech an d Chong, then Dazed and Confused, Dude, where's my car, the big Lebowski, Seth Rogan ... and now, introducing Sir Lucas Baker of the Round Table(t) lol!

  • Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

    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 depress

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

    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.

    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.

    I'm not going to purchase this for my library because of the sexual content, language (although the f-bombs were used very judiciously for YA), but definitely would recommend for high school and public libraries. This 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.

  • Sandy

    I received this ARC from Candlewick Press with the agreement that I would write a candid and unbiased review. This is, indeed, a very candid overview!

    Todd Strasser’s story of a summer during the hippie era turned out to be a surprise for me. Some background to my expectations seems necessary, to provide the context for my review of Summer of ‘69: in 1969 I lived in the hippie capital of Canada (Victoria, BC). My experience of embracing the counterculture society of the day was rather different (

    I received this ARC from Candlewick Press with the agreement that I would write a candid and unbiased review. This is, indeed, a very candid overview!

    Todd Strasser’s story of a summer during the hippie era turned out to be a surprise for me. Some background to my expectations seems necessary, to provide the context for my review of Summer of ‘69: in 1969 I lived in the hippie capital of Canada (Victoria, BC). My experience of embracing the counterculture society of the day was rather different (followng a sustainable lifestyle, supporting a socially-active justice system, supporting anti-war protests [we hated Nixon, Dow Chemical and our University’s unenlightened white-man administration], sheltering draft-dodgers, living in a communal house, attending university). Yes, there was a lot of drug use amongst the 20-somethings (marijuana, hash, LSD, mushrooms [

    grows rampantly in the Pacific Northwest], the latter two were still legal to possess). But in the mid- to late-sixties, the younger kids in high school were not turning on and getting wasted. That was more a feature of the mid 1970’s, when grass seemed mainstream and a great deal of it grown locally (BC Gold). So my context for the 1969 milieu Strasser describes was somewhat different. Hence, I was expecting something groooovy, man! A story that embraced more flower-power, more social activism and maybe carrying a Haight-Ashbury vibe.

    Instead, Todd wrote a poignant memoir, albeit somewhat fictionalized (I think), of being in high school, having love-relationship problems, using drugs to escape the realities of living in a sadly dysfunctional family and facing the iniquitous draft. New York was obviously a radically different environment to the softer counterculture-back-to-the-landers group where I hung out on Vancouver Island. Strasser's narrative swept me back to the era of Nixon, the relentless draft of kids too young to ever be forced overseas and the horrors of ‘Nam. I relived the memories of some sad and some very resilient draft dodgers. I’d forgotten the hilarity of post-weed munchies and how we loved a music scene that was so vibrant. So, yeah, it was a book both of memories as well as gaining some inside knowledge ~ horrors detailed in Chris’ letters from the war zone and what Lucas had to cope with in his young life.

    You’ll note I gave this book a five-star rating. However, a couple aspects weren’t 5-star features: if Rudy was in Saskatchewan in 1968-1970, he would definitely have found a supportive music scene, so I wonder if Strasser just picked the locale based on an uninformed stereotype. There were better communities to cultivate that angle. The other development that seemed strange was the flip flop relationship with Robin. Such neediness in a pothead-acid-dropping kid just out of high school didn’t translate into a realistic liaison with the persona created for Robin. Lucas certainly matured as the summer progressed, although in the end he didn’t seem to acknowledge the effect soft drugs were having on his capacity to think clearly. Robin was ‘straight’ in the sense that she saw what she wanted in her education towards an adult career. She had insights into her behaviour being unfavourably modified by hanging out with Lucas. So the book’s conclusion didn’t quite add up there. It was still a great read, despite these criticisms, and certainly prompts me to check out Strasser's other work.

  • Lana

    This was a wild ride of a Summer of ‘69, for sure! This was a fast paced, part autobiographical account of this crazy summer. Lucas is 18, and has just found out he didn’t get accepted to the college of his choice and is now faced with possibly getting drafted to Vietnam. This story contains violence, sex and lots of drug use, but feels like an accurate description of the time. Lucas also experiences Woodstock in the story which was awesome. I’d highly recommend this historical fiction, just not

    This was a wild ride of a Summer of ‘69, for sure! This was a fast paced, part autobiographical account of this crazy summer. Lucas is 18, and has just found out he didn’t get accepted to the college of his choice and is now faced with possibly getting drafted to Vietnam. This story contains violence, sex and lots of drug use, but feels like an accurate description of the time. Lucas also experiences Woodstock in the story which was awesome. I’d highly recommend this historical fiction, just not too sure I’d suggest it for YA.

    Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for this ARC!

  • Amber

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    I did not think I was going to like this book? Right off the bat, I’m not saying it’s the best book ever, but I requested this ARC on a whim because I like the publishing house and I haven’t really read much about the ’60s. A lot of the reviews leading up were talking about the focus on drugs and

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    I did not think I was going to like this book? Right off the bat, I’m not saying it’s the best book ever, but I requested this ARC on a whim because I like the publishing house and I haven’t really read much about the ’60s. A lot of the reviews leading up were talking about the focus on drugs and for some reason I thought there was going to be a lot of focus on Woodstock.

    While the drugs were a constant presence, I think Summer of ’69 was mostly about the fear of the future in a time where many people’s future was uncertain. There’s a lot of conversation about the Vietnam War and Lucas trying to get Conscientious Objector status. Like I said, I don’t know much about this era outside of basic popular culture, so hearing about Thomas Aquinas was interesting. I also think it’s worth noting that the book was written by someone who lived through the era and not just a piece of historical fiction based on a lot of research. Despite all the best research, personal experience makes a big difference in the genuine voice of a piece.

    Lucas as a character really bothered me, but not because he’s poorly written. Lucas reminds me of an ex-boyfriend, of whom I have very cringy memories. Lucas isn’t a bad person, but he doesn’t seem to understand how the world works. Yet, at the same time, he’s very aware of this personal failing, and agrees when other people tell him about it. The character has a lot of blind spots, and he knows it, but he still behaves poorly. He’s a rich white kid and he knows he’s privileged. Whenever the Panthers are brought up, he seems to get uncomfortable, but there’s no blatant racism. I didn’t like Lucas, but I’ve seen people like him.

    The relationship aspect was what was most uncomfortable to me. Lucas was a heavy drug user without a plan for the rest of his life or interest in really changing. He was a lot of hot air. And I’m not just talking marijuana – the kid was dropping acid all the time with the overture “I’m going to stop soon”. His girlfriend, Robin, is away counseling at camp and expresses that she’s not comfortable with their relationship or the person she is when she’s with him or his constant drug use. She essentially dumps him in multiple letters and Lucas’s response to this is to beg her not to leave him and promise to change and to profess his undying love. It’s like… no matter what she says, it just makes him cling more. From a purely literary point-of-view, I get that Robin is the only thing in Lucas’s life that probably feels stable, but the emotional manipulation is just not okay. Of all his behavior, I suppose it’s weird that I’m latching on to the way he behaves as a boyfriend, but honestly between him begging her to stay while he has a fling with Tinsley… it wasn’t okay. Nothing to do with the writing – I just thought Lucas was a bit of a crappy person.

    The story didn’t really go anywhere, a slice of life for a white boy just out of high school in ’69 who is afraid of being drafted and afraid of all the changes around him. It drew me in a lot more than I thought. There was something lyrical to the way it was written. I also liked all the short poems interwoven in the story. I’m not sorry for reading it, and I think that people interested in the era and in historical fiction would most likely enjoy Summer of ’69.

  • Stacey

    This book is different than any YA book I've read. This is a semi-autobiographical account of the author's youth which is likely why the book genuinely feels so lates 60s- early 70's. Everything from the slang, to the descriptions of clothing, hair, cars, and home furnishing leads to completely immersive experience as the reader. Since this is marked as a YA novel, I think that this will be a great reading experience for teenagers of today. You can see how EVERYTHING as changed in good and bad w

    This book is different than any YA book I've read. This is a semi-autobiographical account of the author's youth which is likely why the book genuinely feels so lates 60s- early 70's. Everything from the slang, to the descriptions of clothing, hair, cars, and home furnishing leads to completely immersive experience as the reader. Since this is marked as a YA novel, I think that this will be a great reading experience for teenagers of today. You can see how EVERYTHING as changed in good and bad ways since that time. Now with it being marketed as YA I want to emphasis that depicted with the novel are sex, war and other violence, and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. This is certainly outside of my experience with the YA genre. However it works here because the book is so honest and true to that era. The story takes place mostly within that summer of 1969. Lucas didn't do so well in school and finds out that he wasn't accepted to the college of his choice and now the draft is staring him in the face. His girlfriend went away for the summer and things may have been souring in their relationship leaving Lucas confused and heartbroken. (Never was the era more obvious- there was no cell in phone in sight for him to call Robin. When he did make calls it was from a landline with ridiculous charges) . He gets letters from his friend who is fighting in the war and reads first hand how dire the situation is for the soldiers there and he can't imagine fighting for a war he actively objects to morally. A lot changes over the course of this book, over the course of that summer. I enjoyed this book and I'm really glad to have read it. This book told me more about the Vietnam war then anything I've read before (which wasn't much). I also enjoyed the mentions of different musicians from the era and references to other things from that time. I especially enjoyed the scenes where Lucas went to what would later be called Woodstock. We've all seen the pictures but the story describes a bit about what else was going on there. I certainly recommend this book. I'm glad Todd Strasser finally decided to write down his story.

  • Britt

    *I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

    Anyone who knows me knows that I adore history, and that the 1950s and 1960s are my favorite era to study. While I wholeheartedly understand that the era was certainly not the best for minorities — women, PoC, and LGBT+ folks alike — I love the pop culture, which *definitely* influences my interest. So, needless to say, I was SUPER excited when I stumbled across this book on NetGalley, and even more so when I got approved to r

    *I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

    Anyone who knows me knows that I adore history, and that the 1950s and 1960s are my favorite era to study. While I wholeheartedly understand that the era was certainly not the best for minorities — women, PoC, and LGBT+ folks alike — I love the pop culture, which *definitely* influences my interest. So, needless to say, I was SUPER excited when I stumbled across this book on NetGalley, and even more so when I got approved to read it! It sounded right up my alley.

    That being said, this book was rather... disappointing. The era was cool, and the atmosphere/imagery of the Summer of ‘69 was pretty on point, as far as I can tell (coming from a 20 year old who studies the era, but never actually lived it), but the writing itself was not that great. There were also formatting issues, but I’m going to hope that was just NetGalley screwing up, at no fault of the author.

    The writing, though, as I said, wasn’t great. It was pretty choppy sentence and structure wise, there was a lot of telling instead of showing, and there was this... really weird thing where the POV would continuously switch from first person to third? I *think* it was meant to be a stylistic thing, meant for while the main character was high or tripping, but it didn’t work very well. Instead of coming off as a clever plot device, it read as very choppy and awkward instead.

    And, while the imagery itself was pretty cool, nothing much really... happened, plot-wise? The book walks us through the summer of 1969, and we follow the main character, Lucas, as he tries to avoid being drafted and faces long distance drama with his girlfriend, but in the end everything wrapped up a little *too* perfectly, and the whole ordeal ended up being almost pointless. There was also somewhat of a summer fling type love triangle, but one side of the triangle kinda ends up just... disappearing from the plot, with not much resolution.

    I will say that this book does do a pretty good job of exploring the Vietnam War from an antiwar perspective, and my favorite thing to read about were definitely the different music and hippie festivals that Lucas goes to. It’s a shame that the rest of the book didn’t follow that same decent consistency, because I have a feeling I would have liked it a lot more if it were more like that. It definitely captures the *spirit* of 1969, I just... wish there was more to it.

    Overall, perhaps if the formatting weren’t such an issue, and the writing was a bit better, this book would be perfect for the right audience. Summer of ‘69 is supposed to be based around the author’s own experiences, so I definitely think there are people out there who would enjoy the plot that, admittedly, was more simplistic than I was hoping for. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t a huge fan, but I do think it has overall potential and I would definitely still recommend checking it out if you’re interested in the 1960s antiwar era!

  • Ilona

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser. I've read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    The Summer of '69 is a story about Lucas who has just graduaded high school, said good-bye to his girlfriend who's leaving for camp and has been rejected by a college which results in a very high chance that he'll be drafted for the Vietnam war. The story details how Lucas tries to find a way to not get drafted for the war, while dealing w

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser. I've read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    The Summer of '69 is a story about Lucas who has just graduaded high school, said good-bye to his girlfriend who's leaving for camp and has been rejected by a college which results in a very high chance that he'll be drafted for the Vietnam war. The story details how Lucas tries to find a way to not get drafted for the war, while dealing with feelings about the war, his relationship and his future. In order to surpress his feelings about all of this, he takes different kind of drugs.

    Summer of '69 is partly based on the real life of the author which made for an interesting read. I was drawn to the aspects of the character's fear about being drafted for the Vietnam war and the circumstances in that period. Unfortunately, apart from the drafting storyline, the story didn't resonate with me. I felt that the shift between first person and third person was annoying at times, even though it showed the difference between sober Lucas and Lucas on drugs. I couldn't really connect to any of the characters which resulted in me not connecting to the story.

    I do think that this story might be more appealing to people who know more about the Vietnam war and perhaps the repercussions it's had on people. Being from Europe, I've only read about the Vietnam war in History class in high school, so it's interesting to learn more about it in this way. But apart from that I couldn't connect to it that deeply.

    I recommend this book if you want to read a story that takes place in the sixties and deals with Woodstock, all types of drugs, the Vietnam war and the fear of being drafted for a war you don't believe in.

  • Moony MeowPoff

    * Got this ARC in exhange for a honest review by Netgalley*

    DNF 16%

    It sounded interesting when i read about what the book was about. But as i started it, at first Lucas, he main character seemed like a lovesick complaining puppy, then as i went further in he ended up as a pot-smoking wierdo? Needy and apperaently can't be a man himself? Because he let Tinsley do those things, and think those sexual things. But it dosen't matter? because his girlfriend are miles away in Canada...? He was mixed bet

    * Got this ARC in exhange for a honest review by Netgalley*

    DNF 16%

    It sounded interesting when i read about what the book was about. But as i started it, at first Lucas, he main character seemed like a lovesick complaining puppy, then as i went further in he ended up as a pot-smoking wierdo? Needy and apperaently can't be a man himself? Because he let Tinsley do those things, and think those sexual things. But it dosen't matter? because his girlfriend are miles away in Canada...? He was mixed between an annoying weed-smooking needy guy to a lovesick puppy and i just could'nt invest further to see if he managed to get into college or not. I even had slight problems detecting the time-line where this was written. Maybe this is just me, because i've seen it get high praise. But, i just could not last.

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